A new skillet

The skillet sign in front of Ontario’s Iron Skillet (805 N. Euclid) was looking pretty worn when I shot the photo below in spring 2016 for my Restaurant of the Week post. More recently, some piece broke, I think the top beam, causing the sign to droop, and the wood of the sign split. It was sad looking. It might have been the original sign from 1980.

But on my most recent visit over the weekend, there was a new sign. It’s virtually the same design, but brand new, and sturdier-looking. The owner told me it’s been up two or three months. It certainly presents a better appearance to motorists and reflects the resurgence of the restaurant itself.

If you like Americana-type places, Iron Skillet is doing a good job of it under its current ownership, and business seems to be on a steady upswing — just like the sign.

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Paul R. Williams, architect

The pioneering African-American architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), responsible for some 2,000 private homes in Southern California and such landmarks as Los Angeles International Airport, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Los Angeles County Courthouse, was posthumously awarded a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in April.

Williams designed two Ontario structures, both still standing: the Robert Norman Williams home, 205 E. 6th St., above, in 1948, and the former Post Office, 125 W. Transit St., below, in 1926. The latter is now used for artist lofts and an art gallery that bears his name. Click on the links above for more on each from the late architect’s website. The home sounds particularly interesting with glass walls offering views of “multiple gardens” and custom Maloof furniture.

For the record, the web page for the 6th Street home mentions a third Ontario commission from 1935, the Alfred E. Thomas residence, with no further explanation. The city planning department and the library’s researcher looked into this for me and can’t find any reference to the home or to Thomas. Perhaps the citation for Ontario was in error. Until we hear otherwise, we’ll assume only the two structures were ever built.

Update: After my inquiry to the Williams Project website, I got this reply from its director: “The Thomas house citation is in Ontario, Canada. We will delete that reference.”

So: There are two Paul R. Williams structures in Ontario — and both are still with us. Who says Ontario doesn’t have any history?

Read about Williams on Wikipedia, his website or the AIA announcement.

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Column: These properties are models of preservation

You were probably on pins and needles, you may have had your bets in in Las Vegas, but the wait is over: Ontario’s historic preservation awards were announced recently. I list them and describe them in Sunday’s column, followed by news about a library card catalog, some cultural notes, a plug for this blog and a vignette. Above, the home at 214 E. 4th St., one of the winners. Clearly the awards are not based on size.

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Column: Local man made sure Hollywood Sign would last

Illustrating once again that there’s a local angle to everything, a longtime Upland man, Cornelius Van Dam, was the structural engineer who oversaw the new version of the Hollywood Sign in 1978. The modest Van Dam, long retired, now lives in a retirement home in Ontario and says he was never a publicity hound. Nevertheless, at his wife’s urging, he talked to me for Wednesday’s column.

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