SAVE THE SAMOHI HISTORY BUILDING
Demand Adaptive Reuse Now!
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) will begin demolition soon on the historic Samohi History Building. It is a prime example of the WPA-era construction under the New Deal and was the setting for James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause. But the self-proclaimed progressive and sustainable SMMUSD refuses to study adaptive reuse and claims “21st Century Learning” can only be accomplished in new buildings that cost twice as much.
"The greenest building is the one that already exists."
Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects
SCHOOL BOARD IGNORES COMMUNITY, COSTS, AND ENVIRONMENT
DEMOLITION COULD START ANY DAY NOW
Over 6,100 residents and alumni have signed a petition asking the school board to save the History Building. The Alumni Association and the Santa Monica Conservancy have asked for it to be saved as well. The History Building received national attention when the National Trust for Historic Preservation featured it as “threatened” in its spring magazine. Five of the seven Santa Monica Neighborhood Organizations (the official resident groups recognized by the city) have asked the school board to study adaptive reuse of the History Building.
The school board has ignored all of these pleas and doubled down on its plan by accelerating demolition even though a new classroom building planned to open in the fall is not done, and there are no approved plans or costs for the replacement structures. In addition, disturbing new information shows that SMMUSD has known for a year that declining enrollment means they don’t need a new classroom building. And after all that, the school board still refuses to consider adaptive reuse of the History Building as a much-needed library and student center that will cost $34 million less than new construction.
All of this is being done with the backdrop of SMMUSD (despite being one of the wealthiest districts in CA) deficit spending since 2013 and backfilling with reserves, resulting in being placed under a fiscal stabilization plan by the LA County Office of Education. SMMUSD’s structural deficit and looming pension obligations caused Moody’s to downgrade SMMUSD’s construction bond ratings in April. So the school district that is running out of money rushes forward, against the demands of residents, alumni and experts, to demolish a historic building and spend twice as much on a new building we don’t need.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Please write to elected officials, preservationists, sustainability advocates, film historians, and the press to demand that SMMUSD halt demolition and save the History Building!
Community members, residents, alumni, students and experts ask the school board to
save the History Building and study adaptive reuse.