HISTORY OF PALISADES VILLAGE GREEN
When the Methodists developed Pacific Palisades in 1923, they placed a small park in the heart of the village, and commissioned the Olmstead Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts to design the village and business center. This triangular shaped parcel of land is located at the intersection of Sunset, Swarthmore and Antioch, and it appears in the foreground of the thumbnail picture to your right. Unfortunately, the property was leased to Standard Oil and was converted to a gas station in 1945.
The citizens had dreamed of again creating a park in this triangle and in 1968 the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce made the initial contact with Standard Oil, which at that time had a lease on the property running until June of 1972.
Interest in obtaining the site did not die. In 1972, Standard Oil decided not to renew its lease and the property became available. The 15 person Pacific Palisades Community Council established a five member group called the Village Green Committee. The purpose of the committee was to look into obtaining and developing the property into a village green (park).
Members of the committee included Robert McMillin, president; Margaret Wylie and Wally Miller, vice presidents; Robert Abernethy, NBC News correspondent; and Arwin Ahren, treasurer. A lease was signed giving the Village Green Committee an option to buy the land if it could raise the necessary funds.
The kick off for the fund raising was October 1, 1972. In less than three months the people of Pacific Palisades raised nearly $70,000, a large sum of money at that time, to buy the triangle and create the Village Green.
$46,000 of this was used for the purchase of the land and the remainder was used for the architect and design. The basic idea of the Green was that it should be a place to be enjoyed from within and admired from a distance. This meant walkways, benches, trees and flowers, as well as grass. There should be a water effect, a flag pole, and a drinking fountain. The only thing that was not accomplished was the water feature because of lack of money (the fountain was finally installed in 1990).
The community came together and worked hard. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were drawn up and we were certified as a California non-profit corporation. The Palisades Village Green was formally dedicated on August 17, 1973.
The committee had originally planned to give the Village Green to the City of Los Angeles when it was completed because of the responsibility and cost of maintenance, but eventually the committee decided to retain ownership. To this day, it is still owned by the Village Green Committee and managed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
The Palisades Village Green represents an amazing grassroots effort. To this day, it stands as a symbol of our community’s spirit, generosity and love of beauty.