Over 450 people gathered at Hillside cemetery Thursday to honor the life of Len Hill, who passed away earlier this week after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Hill was a prolific television writer/producer who used his considerable skills to advocate for preservation of our historic neighborhoods. He was not afraid to venture into controversial issues, challenging city leaders and others to enforce the zoning laws designed to preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods. Those who had the opportunity to work closely with him regard him as one of the essential leaders in the effort to implement Historic Preservation Overlay Zones in Hancock Park and Windsor Square. The Larchmont Chronicle described Hill as “leader in the national movement to protect the zoning of single-family neighborhoods.”
Hill’s careful restoration of his June Street residence, the Lucille Mead Lamb Home, “La Casa de las Campanas” (House of the Bells) won him recognition from the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society who designated the home a local historic landmark in 1978, their third after Gilmore Adobe and Wilshire Ebell. Hill graciously opened his home for various tours and his garden was documented by the Hancock Park Garden Club for the Archive of American Gardens Garden Club of America Collection held by the Smithsonian Institution.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Hill began his more than 30 year career in the film and television industry as a writer for the television series “Adam 12.” Through Leonard Hill Films (LHF), Hill produced more than 50 network television movies, four mini-series, and three dramatic series. He was a visionary in the television industry forming the first consortium of independent television movie directors, Allied Communication, Inc. (ACI) which he later sold to Pearson, Plc. in 1994. His offices were located at the entrance to Fremont Place for many years until he sold the building around 2004.
“I met Len twenty-five years ago when he recruited me away from Disney, recalled Jamie Bennett, longtime resident of Windsor Square who now splits his time between Hancock Park and Ojai, where he serves as the director of the Ojai Valley Music Festival.
“Len was the king of TV Movies at the time. He made more of them than anyone and he put together a consortium of peer TV producers and was the chair and largest shareholder. It was a small studio of TV movie makers and then generously stepped aside and let me run the company. Len was always the smartest guy in the room and became a good friend and international traveling companion for the five years we worked together. Len was a passionate collector of “things”, Persian rugs, California Art, silver, pipes, watches, and so on. We shared those interests and would drop in on auction houses in London looking for deals whenever we traveled there together,” Bennett shared with the Buzz.
In 2001, Hill and Yuval Bar-Zemer formed Linear City, a real estate redevelopment company, that focused on the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial buildings into architecturally distinctive mixed-use lofts. Linear City has won numerous awards for projects such as the Biscuit Company Lofts, The Toy Factory Lofts, Seventh + Bridge, the Traction Lofts and The Elysian.
In January, Hill made a $1.9 million gift to the City to fund the design, construction and programming of an arts plaza beneath the new Sixth Street Bridge, The proposed Leonard Hill Arts Plaza, pending City Council approval, will sit underneath the bridge between Santa Fe Avenue and the Los Angeles River. The Plaza is expected to be constructed in 2019 and begin arts programming in the space in 2020.
Len will be missed but his legacy of preservation and civic engagement lives on.
This story was updated June 10 at 3:37 pm to correct a date.