Art teacher restores 103-year-old home

Jacob Goodman

Visual Arts teacher Art Tobias completed work in June on a pair of plaster corbels, which are decorative features at the top of columns, for an old Wilshire house in the historic Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams.

The assignment, which took six months, was brought to him by the new owners of the house, who were looking to complete major renovations but were in a bind due to the regulations of living in a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. An HPOZ restricts modifications on historic houses in the neighborhood for the purpose of preservation.

“Because we’re in an HPOZ, they couldn’t put up just anything; they had to put up something that looked exactly like what had been there,” Tobias said.

The couple met Tobias during a historic homes tour in December. They invited him to see the house around Christmas and showed him the damaged corbels.

“I made the mistake of saying, ‘If you can’t find anybody, I could do it,’” Tobias said. “And so they came back in January and said, ‘Yeah, we can’t find anyone.’”

The project required two months of planning after the original commission in January. Tobias started physical mold and plasterwork over spring break in March and completed the installation of the two corbels four months later.

In addition to the corbels, Tobias also published a new chapter to his book entitled, “The Root of the Matter: The Cabin and Indian Scene on Colt’s Model 1855 Sidehammer Revolver,” which is available as a 14-page pamphlet along with the book.