ARTICLE: WESTCHESTER/PLAYA HISTORICAL SOCIETY DISCOVERY CENTER CELEBRATES ITS OPENING

By: Cozette Vergari

The new Westchester/Playa Historical Society Discovery Center opened to the public August 1st of this year, celebrated by the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce at the August 24th Ribbon Cutting. In attendance, to offer their congratulations, were City Controller Ron Galperin, City Attorney Mike Feurer and Airport Commissioner Val Velasco. The city officials recognized the hard work and dedication of the Westchester/Playa Historical Society Board of Directors, in reaching their targeted goal, as well as the value of their mission to the community at large.

Notwithstanding the challenges that Covid-19 has rendered, after an exciting year of strategic planning and implementation, the Westchester/Playa Historical Society Board of Directors have been working diligently to bring its dream of a public location for visitors to explore the rich history of our local communities to fruition. The mission of the Westchester/Playa Historical Society, incorporated as a nonprofit entity just over a year ago, is to gather, study and preserve the history of the communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista, providing educational and research opportunities for all ages. The new WPHS Discovery Center will be a major component of that mission.

Also recognized at the Ribbon Cutting were Founders Circle Donors, Cozette Chattin Vergari Family, Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, Westchester Rotary Foundation and Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Foundation, along with Diamond Donors Richard Moon, Amy Frelinger and Los Angeles World Airports, as well as Emerald Donors Patty Crockett, Maria Davis, Director of Carousel Schools, Marc Mohaher on behalf of Technologent, John and Gail Grover, and Lisa Schwab.

The Discovery Center is located at 6207 W. 87th St.  in the Westchester Triangle commercial district, which in and of itself is considered an historical commercial retail district, within the Los Angeles region. Architect Lara Hoad was hired to collaborate with Board members, Cozette Vergari, Marcelo Cruz, Art Wexler, Mike Heffernan  and David Russell in the design of the buildout, after which Contractor Robert Sawyer was engaged to implement the new design of the Discovery Center. The WPHS Board also collaborated with Otis College of Art & Design students in the new branding assets of the Westchester Historical Society, including the interior murals, dramatically and relevantly depicting local history as far back as 8000 B.C. The Discovery centered throughout this process of implementation has been equipped with updated technology both to serve and protect access to its archives. The start up of this location would not have been possible without the support of Drollinger Properties and Truxton Investment Company.

As health protocols permit, the Westchester/Playa Historical Society Discovery Center will be open to the public on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and otherwise by appointment or special event. Student filed trips will be available to schools, to enrich the California mandated history curriculum, requiring students to study state and local history. Beginning in January will be full and ongoing calendaring of Historical Exhibits, memorializing major themes in the history of the region and individual pioneers who directly impacted the birth of our local neighborhoods in the early 1900s, and others who followed to protect and preserve thoughtful development. Individuals with historical ties to the community will be invited to record their oral histories to be housed among the historical society’s archives. The Discovery Center will also be available for special events, partnering with The Book Jewel and other local businesses. As soon as reasonably possible, the WPHS Walking Tour and WPHS Driving Tour will be resurrected. When the pandemic shut our lives down, WPHS was forced to cancel the very first “sold out” tours that were planned for May of last year.

Visit the newly launched Westchester/Playa Historical Society website at www.wphistoricalsociety.org . If you are interested in supporting the efforts of the WPHS, please reach out at wphistorical@gmail.com. There are donor, contributor, exhibit sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

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