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Parts of the architecture of classic homes in Northeast Los Angeles are fences and gates. Original designs are preferred, but new vintage-looks are possible.

According to Robert Frost, good fences make good neighbors, right?

That depends. If your home is in an historic district such as the Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone), you need to go about adding or restoring a fence with care. Those buying real estate in Garvanza or selling homes in Highland Park have found there are strict rules when fixing up a home for sale or after purchasing.

The rules there stipulate that alterations of landscaping, including the installation of fences, that are visible from the public right-of-way (streets and sidewalks) are subject to HPOZ board review. If any historic retaining walls, pathways, stairs, or fences exist on a property, “they should be rehabilitated or preserved in place,” states the HPOZ Preservation Plan. “If they must be removed, they should be replaced in kind. If reinforcement is necessary, finish materials should match the original in materials and design.”

The Plan also says adding a fence where none existed previously “is strongly discouraged.” This allows an exception in cases where public safety demands a semi-transparent wrought iron fence painted in dark green, dark brown, or black. In other words, if your Victorian home in Eagle Rock is on a very busy street corner, a see-through iron fence might be painted in a color that matches some of your gingerbread trim.

But part of the richness of vintage homes in Glassell Park, Hermon, and Mt. Washington is that some have arroyo stone as original elements in fencing, retaining walls, porch columns, balustrades, and as exterior wall cladding.

Gates on vintage homes largely fall under the same rules or preservation aesthetics as fences. If it was in the original design, fine, and if not, no. One style of home, albeit rare, that has a distinctive front gate is the mid-century “oriental ranch,” with a motif that includes a circular moon, sometimes of cast-iron hardware and best complemented with a Japanese-style Zen garden.

Where fencing can be extraordinary is around the Arts & Crafts Movement-inspired California bungalows and Craftsman homes.  And outside of HPOZ jurisdictions, it is possible to add a fence where none existed previously. Newly produced, commercially sold fencing and gates are available that are inspired by the windows, furniture and other motifs and themes of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Artisanal, one-of-a-kind fences and gates are also available that borrow from the great architect’s leaded glass lotus designs, which melded well with his iconic rectilinear Prairie Style. 

Realtor Tracy King is familiar with the styles of fences and gates as well as the planning restrictions around their use. Talk to her or her staff (323-243-1234) to learn about NELA homes, particularly those with stunning vintage characteristics.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or