Thursday, October 20, 2011

Angeleno Heights preservation pioneer leaves behind a colorful memory of the neighborhood’s past

When it came time to paint his Angeleno Heights home, Tom Morales took a set of colored pencils and began coloring illustrations of the 1887 Victorian to determine the perfect color combination.  Morales then tested colors on his childhood home at the southwest corner of Carroll Avenue and East Edgeware Road to find out how they looked like  in sunshine. After all that he selecting approximately 17 different shades of sage green accented with golds and burgundy.  This might seem like extreme behavior for even the most house-proud of Angeleno Heights residents but not for Morales. Not only did he turn his home into one of head-turning Victorian jewels of the neighborhood, he also spearheaded the protection of Angeleno Heights architectural treasures after a Victorian mansion across the street was stripped of its grandeur. On Saturday, Sept. 15, Morales, who had lived most of his life in the Victorian landmark,  died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer, said his son Christopher.
In a 1987 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Morales, whose parents purchased the 13-room house in the early 1940s for $3,000, spoke about what it was like during the 1970s when he and others began efforts to form a historic district to protect the blocks of old and often neglected homes:
“Back then, people thought you were eccentric for living in these houses, trying to get them on the National Register of Historic Places and lobbying to create a preservation district. But it bonded the neighborhood.”
Morales served as head of the board overseeing the Angeleno Heights Preservation Overlay Zone, which reviews exterior changes to most of the neighborhood’s buildings. It was the first such historic zone created in the city.  The Morales family home, which exhibits signs of the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles,  was declared city Historic Cultural Landmark #51.
Morales leaves behind his wife, Priscilla, and son, Christopher.

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