By Robert Ito
Many years ago I was standing in a barracks in Pearl Harbor when a fellow marine pushed his hand about an inch and a half through the wall. Termites had eaten most of the wood behind the paint, he told me, and a lot of the rest of the structure besides. Across the street from our barracks, which we shared with geckos, cockroaches, the aforementioned termites, and a colony of feral cats, was the beautiful, collegial-looking home of the base’s guard company. We might be living in a place like that, my friend explained, but our own crumbling two-story abode couldn’t be torn down until a guy came by to take some photos of it, for posterity, because it was on some kind of “register of historic places.” He said it like it was the most supremely stupid thing in the world. “That’s why we’re living in this shit hole,” he told me. “Because it’s historical.”
Take that story and turn it completely upside down and you’ll get some sense of what’s happening at Lincoln Place, a complex of 696 garden apartments near Penmar Park in Venice. Unlike our Pearl Harbor home, Lincoln Place is still quite habitable—what’s left of it—and unlike my bitter barracks mate, its residents, many of whom have lived there for several decades, want to stay.
Photo: a 1951 brochure trumpeting the charms of the then-new Lincoln Place apartments.