The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission Thursday unanimously recommended that Tom Bergin's, a recently shuttered Irish tavern and restaurant that has been a fixture on South Fairfax Avenue in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood for 70 years, be added to the city's list of historic-cultural monuments.
The recommendation came over the objection of the owners of Tom Bergin's, who argued that decades of renovations and alterations had rendered the structure "dismembered," and that a historic designation would limit its use and thus limit potential buyers of the building.
Tom Bergin's closed in 2018, but many of the establishment's regular customers spoke at the meeting and said it was a vital part of the neighborhood's history.
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"Tom Bergin's was a safe space before we knew what safes space were. It was a place that everyone could go to," said Jim O'Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association.
Originally named Tom Bergin's Old Horseshoe Tavern and Thoroughbred Club, the tavern first opened in 1936 at 6110 Wilshire Blvd. and moved to its present-day location on South Fairfax Avenue in 1949, according to a report from the Department of City Planning.
The department found that the building "exemplifies significant contributions to the broad cultural, economic or social history of the nation, state, city or community" but should not be recognized for its architecture, although the applicant, the Los Angeles Conservancy, had argued for an architectural designation as well.
"The misconception is that if it is nominated the business will magically reopen, and that's not the case," said a co-owner of Tom Bergin's, Derek Schreck, who added that it has closed three times in the last nine years and is simply not a viable business anymore.
The recommendation for monument status for Tom Bergin's will now go to the City Council for consideration.