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Burnett C. Turner Records
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Collection Overview
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The Burnett C. Turner Collection consists of materials used in the restoration and revitalization of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, dating from 1905 and 1999, including buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Architectural drawings by Turner and other firms make up the bulk of the collection, which also includes photographs, artifacts, administrative files, and maps.
Burnett Coburn “Sandy” Turner was born December 3, 1902 to Harry Coburn and Marie Ada (Burnett) Turner. A native of Los Angeles, California, Turner attended Los Angeles High School, 1917-1920, and the University of California, Los Angeles, 1920-1921. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (1925) and Civil Engineering (1926) from Princeton University. He also received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1928. Turner acquired architectural licenses in both D.C. and New York, where he worked prior to World War II (1928-1934). On January 23, 1932, Turner married Miriam Fechimer. Following his return to the West Coast, Turner attained his license in California and served as Architect-Engineer and Consulting Architect for various Federal Housing Agencies (1935-1942), which included work for the U.S. Housing Authority in San Francisco and the Defense Housing Division of the Federal Works Administration in Los Angeles. Between 1942 and 1946, Turner was an officer for the Corps of Engineers in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1946 and serving as an active reserve officer until 1958. After WWII, Turner founded a private architecture and planning consultancy practice in Los Angeles. In 1946, at the request of the American Institute of Architects, Turner was hired by the County of Los Angeles to design a Master Plan for the Civic Center. During this process, Turner met Christine Sterling, known as the “Mother of Olvera Street” for her role in preserving and promoting the buildings around the plaza, including Olvera Street. Sterling established the Plaza de Los Angeles, Inc. to manage Olvera Street and to preserve its historic buildings. Sterling asked Turner to create a Master Plan for the area around the plaza in 1947. In 1953, the plaza area was designated a historic park by the State of California, which appointed the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historical Monument Commission to manage the park. In 1974, the agreement was revised and the City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation division assumed management of the park. From 1946 until 1975, Burnett Turner served as consulting architect for the development of the park area, functioning as both architect and advocate for preservation of the area’s historical buildings. (A chronology of Turner’s work at El Pueblo Park is listed below.) Turner played an important role in securing the registration of many of El Pueblo buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Burnett C. Turner maintained an active role as a member and leader of various civic and professional organizations, including the Historical Society of Southern California, the California Heritage Council, the Economic Roundtable of Los Angeles, the American Institute of Certified Planners, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Society of Architectural Historians. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1979-1980 served on Mayor Tom Bradley’s Bicentennial Commission (the Los Angeles 200 Committee). Burnett C. Turner passed away on March 29, 1997.
617 Linear feet: 243 oversize folders, 1 roll, 8 document boxes, 7 cartons
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to El Pueblo Historical Monument by mail or email (eptours@lacity.org). Permission for publication is given on behalf of El Pueblo Historical Monument as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access. Contact eptours@lacity.org