An Icon - Watts Towers, Los Angeles
When Rodia finished his towers in 1954, he gave them, along with the deed to his triangular shaped land (pointing eastward to Italy) to his neighbor Mr. Louis Sauceda. Mr. Sauceda sold them to Joseph Montoya for $1,000.00 six months later. Mr. Montoya decided to convert the Watts Towers into a commercial venue. But, when he went to get a building permit the City of Los Angeles placed a demolition order on the structure because Simon did not get a permit to build his masterpiece.
Along came Bill Cartwright and Nick King who purchased the Towers from Mr. Montoya for $3,000.00 in 1959. They founded The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts and saved the Towers from demolition with a "stress" or "load" test, designed by Bud Goldstone. The Towers proved stronger than the test equipment. Therefore, the test was stopped and the Towers were deemed safe, and preservation efforts began. The Watts community considered the Watts Towers part of their heritage and called upon the new owners to also invest in the community. Thus the Watts Towers Arts Center began. The 52-year old Watts Towers Arts Center is synonymous with the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia. It has been the guardian and curator of the Watts Towers since its inception in 1961 when Lucille Krasne taught the first classes on the foundation of the burned down home of the man himself, Sabato Rodia.
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