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Will Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak live long enough to become a Los Angeles landmark?

About This Webinar

Join Esotouric, L.A.'s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for the second in an occasional series of free webinars exploring timely historic preservation issues and how YOU can get involved.

Our guest is distinguished horticulturist Dr. Donald R. Hodel.

When Dr. Hodel published “Exceptional Trees of Los Angeles” (1988), he wasn’t aware of the oak sapling presented to Olympic gold medalist Cornelius Johnson at the 1936 Berlin Games, which has grown to maturity behind his parents’ modest West Adams bungalow. If he had been, it would certainly have been included.

Now, the Olympic Oak is in the race of its life—owned by a developer who wants to demolish the house and chop down the tree, but also under consideration as a protected city landmark.

The campaign to preserve Cornelius Johnson’s oak and family home has attracted local and national attention, with a feature story in the New York Times. The Cultural Heritage Commission has been supportive. But even a series of yes votes by the CHC, PLUM Committee and City Council may not be enough to save Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak.

In this webinar, we’ll go down to the vacant Johnson home at 1156 South Hobart, just north of Pico Boulevard, to do an endangered tree status check from over the fence. You’ll hear Dr. Hodel’s expert opinion on the grim state of this historic tree, and what needs to happen immediately if it’s going to live long enough to be named a city landmark.

Learn more about this special tree and Dr. Hodel’s prescription to save it here:


Then we’ll take your questions about the landmarking process and the special problems and opportunities posed when a living piece of cultural history suffers from potentially fatal neglect. This is an opportunity for the City to step up and take an active role in protecting this threatened (almost) landmark, before it’s too late.

Watch this short webinar when it airs at 7pm on August 2 (or later, on demand), then tune in and call in on August 4 at 10am, when the Cultural Heritage Commission meets to vote on landmarking the Johnson Oak and family home. We’re asking people who care about this piece of Los Angeles and Olympic history to help amplify Dr. Hodel’s prescription for saving this beautiful tree, through public comment and by spreading the word.

This webinar is an illustrated lecture that will bring the history and future of Cornelius Johnson’s oak tree and family home to life, while inspiring you to look around your own community for ways you can help to keep old places around with fresh new uses. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app.

So tune in and discover the incredible history of Los Angeles, with the couple whose passion for the city is infectious. Can’t join in when the webinar is happening? You can tune in later, though you’ll miss the opportunity to ask questions in the chat.

FYI: Immediately upon registering, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join the webinar. The webinar is reliable on all devices, Mac, PC, iOS and Android.

About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one other on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high-level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging ever deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.

Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.

Who can view: Everyone
Webinar Price: Free
Featured Presenters
Webinar hosting presenter Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper (“one of L.A.’s brightest torchbearers” – Electric Literature) is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

Webinar hosting presenter Richard Schave

After his undergraduate studies in art history at UC Santa Cruz, Richard Schave set out to explore the American interior as an itinerant brick mason. His return to his native Los Angeles coincided with a renewed acquaintance with Kim Cooper, a once-detested academic colleague who would become his bride. Together, fusing scholarly research with new digital tools, they launched the 1947project time travel blog, along with In SRO Land, and On Bunker Hill, as well as the Esotouric tour company. With the success of Kim’s True Crime tours, Richard developed a series of Literary and California Culture excursions. Richard is a dedicated preservationist, and the host of the LAVA Sunday Salon and the LAVA Literary Salon series, named Best L.A. Literary Salon by Los Angeles Magazine. He also curates an ongoing series of forensic science programs at Cal State Los Angeles. Richard is also a reader at the Huntington Library.

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Esotouric webinar platform hosts Will Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak live long enough to become a Los Angeles landmark?
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Further Reading on Will Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak live long enough to become a Los Angeles landmark_ _ Esotouric.pdf
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