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Diane Keaton builds on a passion to preserve L.A.'s architecture

Actress Diane Keaton smiled as she surveyed the expansive interior of Vibiana Place, a new community arts center in downtown L.A.

``It's a wonderful example of reuse,'' said Keaton, an L.A. Conservancy board member, who attended the center's opening gala last weekend.

The building, formerly St. Vibiana Catholic Cathedral at Main and Second streets, was the object of a preservation battle in the 1990s. Successful lawsuits on the part of the conservancy saved the building from demolition, and now, new owner/developer Tom Gilmore plans to use it for both public and private events.

``Saving St. Vibiana was a major turning point for our organization,'' says conservancy executive director Linda Dishman. ``Once the fight was over, it really became all about trying to show the vision of what it could be.''

On the celebrity front, Keaton was joined at the party by fellow conservancy board member Ben Stiller and his wife, actress Christine Taylor. Keaton, a fan of Los Angeles architecture, said she first got involved with the conservancy five years ago. That's when she struck a deal with TV producer Leonard Hill. Driving by Hill's house one day, Keaton asked to see the interior of the 1927 Spanish revival home.

He agreed - on the condition that she join the conservancy. ``That's how it started, but then I got much more involved,'' Keaton says. ``Then they asked me to be on the board, and it forced me to action.''

Keaton, who says she often buys old homes, has restored three of her own in L.A., including a 1928 house designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright. ``There just aren't that many of them, and they're really spectacular.''

She also restored her latest home, a 1920 hacienda-style house.

``The history of Spanish colonial architecture and hacienda architecture is very moving to me from my childhood,'' says Keaton, who is currently working on a book on this topic. ``They're beautiful homes that have a kind of outdoor/indoor family feel to them that I really love.''

Dishman says she knows that many Los Angeles residents share Keaton's passion for Southern California architecture and wants to educate people about what's in their community. ``There's a perception that we don't have any history in Los Angeles and that people don't care about it, but that's not true. You see historic resources everywhere when you drive around (L.A.).''

- Diana McKeon Charkalis

BLUE (AND OTHER) PLATE SPECIALS: New York-based company Fishs Eddy offers an eclectic line of fun and festive plates that are great for mixing and matching. The double-fired, commercial grade sturdy-ware - dishes used for diner and restaurants - come in a variety of retro-inspired designs. And most retail for less than $15.

``It's the blue jeans of dinnerware,'' says owner Julie Gaines. ``It's casual and fun. And it's probably the best value you can get: Because it's made for restaurants and hotels, it doesn't chip.''

Their patterns include the black-and-white Chintz line, inspired by the original 1950s design from Carr China, and the pachyderm pattern, which depicts colorful elephants stomping around mugs, cereal bowls and plates.

New next week: The Pantone palate plates, based on colorful sample plates traveling salesman used 50 years ago to show clients what color options they had. Fishs Eddy collaborated with Pantone, the color experts, for the new line, which feature color names and numbers inscribed on each plate.

For more information, visit or call (212) 420-9020.

- D.M.C.

STOP THE CLUTTER: Harried homeowners, rejoice! Good Housekeeping's new book, ``The Complete Clutter Solution: Organize Your Home'' (Hearst Books; $19.95), offers handy room-by-room strategies to make organization easier. Topics include ways to save money and realize good value in things used to organize the home, great ways to store free grocery bags and tips for creating simple concealed overhead storage spaces in your garage. The book also offers tips on storing hazardous materials and guidelines on how to turn your basement or garage into an emergency space in case of a disaster.

- Simone Schramm


4 photos


(1 -- color) Ben Stiller, left, Diane Keaton and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attend the opening gala for Vibiana Place, a new community arts center in downtown L.A.

(2 -- 3 -- color) no caption (Fishs Eddy dinnerware)

(4 -- color) no caption (book: ``The Complete Clutter Solution: Orgazine Your Home for Good'')
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 19, 2005

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