August 23rd, 2010–On August 19th the Indian Wells City Council decided unanimously to trash the Carl Bray home and gallery, despite months of public pleas to save it and despite the findings of an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) that the home is a significant historical resource meriting protection under federal law. For more on artist Carl Bray, see:
In a hoped-for last-minute save, art dealers Kevin and Diane Stewart offered to purchase and restore the gallery. But the couple withdrew their offer after meeting with city officials and encountering only roadblocks.
The alleged reason for the demolition–safety–is an excuse. While access from busy Highway 111 is a legitimate concern, state preservation experts have said the access issues can be solved. As councilman Doug Hanson pointed out at Thursday’s meeting, alternative means of accessing the gallery were never explored by the City. The City’s claim of safety concerns lacks credibility given that they originally said the buildings were falling down and thus had to be demolished. Subsequent engineering studies found the buildings to be perfectly sound.
The City has angled for decades to wipe out the last old building on the sleek new highway, and has been willing to try any gambit (homeless people camping in the gallery? A pressing need for senior gardens?) in pursuit of this goal.
Yet, history is not made by “cities” it’s decided by individuals. For the books, let it be known that the last remaining piece of the original Village of Indian Wells was eradicated by City Council members Ed Monarch, William Powers, Douglas Hanson, Larry Spicer and Patrick Mullany along with Planning Director Corrie Kates and City Manager Greg Johnson.
The Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation has requested that Bray’s gallery sign–a landmark to California drivers for more than half a century–be donated to the group.