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Finding Aid for the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts Records
1388  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1954
    Collection number: 1388
    Creator: Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts
    Extent: 25 boxes (11 linear ft.) 7 oversize boxes
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: The Towers in the Watts area of Los Angeles, nine major sculptures of structural steel covered with mortar, were built by Simon Rodia. He called the towers “Nuestro Pueblo,” and built them without the use of machine equipment or scaffolding. In 1954, Rodia deeded his property to a neighbor, and after the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety ordered the structure demolished, The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts collected signatures and money, and devised an engineering test that proved the Towers' safety (1959). In 1975, the Committee gave the Towers to the city, and in 1978 they were deeded to the state, which undertook restoration work. In 1985, restoration responsibilities were given to the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department, and the Towers are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The collection contains materials generated by the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts relating to the effort to save the Towers, a selected bibliography of articles about the Towers, photographs and pictures, legal documents, audiotapes, films, slides, videotape, transcripts of interviews with Simon Rodia and others, and material regarding the Watts riots and the community response to the Towers.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian, Department of Special Collections.] Credit shall be given as follows: [c in circle] The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts Records (Collection 1388). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    • Gift of William Cartwright, 1984.
    • Gift of J. Bud Goldstone, 1992.
    • Gift of Norma Ashley-David, 1992.
    • Gift of Herbert Kahn, 1997.
    • Gift of Jeanne Smith Morgan, 1997.

    Biography

    The Towers built in the Watts area of Los Angeles, nine major sculptures of structural steel covered with mortar, are the work of one person, Simon Rodia; born Sabato Rodia in Rivatoli, Italy in 1879, his family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1890s and settled in Pennsylvania, and Rodia found work in rock quarries and as a tile setter after moving to the West Coast; purchased property in 1921 and by himself began building what he called Nuestro Pueblo, without the use of machine equipment or scaffolding; in 1954 Rodia deeded his property to a neighbor, and after the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety ordered the structure demolished, The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts collected signatures and money, devising an engineering test that proved the Towers' safety in 1959; in 1975 the Committee gave the Towers to the city, and in 1978 they were deeded to the state, which undertook restoration work; in 1985 restoration responsibilities were given to the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department; the Towers are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and are the location of cultural programs.

    Scope and Content

    Collection contains correspondence, plans and drawings, newspaper and magazine clippings, pictures, and internal and other papers generated by the Committee relating to the effort to save the Towers. Also contains selected bibliography of articles about the Towers, photographs and pictures, and legal documents relating to the Watts property, among them a copy of Simon Rodia's will, announcements of Building and Safety Commission hearings, copies of grant deeds that were drawn up to continue financial support to the Towers, and an insurance policy. Also contains audiotapes, films, slides, videotape, transcripts of interviews with Simon Rodia and others, and material regarding the Watts riots and the community response to the Towers.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • Background (Box 1).
    • Correspondence (Box 1).
    • Minutes, proceedings, etc. (Box 2).
    • Printed material (Box 2).
    • Miscellaneous (Box 2).
    • Ashley-David (Boxes 3-4).
    • Goldstone (Boxes 5-6).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the repository's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Rodia, Simon, 1879-1965.
    Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts--Archives.
    Simon Rodia's Towers (Los Angeles, Calif.).