Resident finds value in historical preservation from Alicia Edquist on Vimeo.

Fond memories of going to The Avenue movie theater in Downey are just a few of the places that Malia Phillips, Downey resident recalls about growing up in the City of Downey, Calif.

She is a substitute teacher and graduate student who is majoring in Social Work. She has lived in Downey for her entire life of 32 years.

While she has not been active in historical preservation of specific places in Downey, she finds value in keeping places in Downey that have had significant importance for the city.

“I think it makes our city more interesting that we have the historical landmarks and it’s always something to tell people when they are asking about where you live,” Phillips said.

The World’s Oldest McDonald’s on Florence Avenue and Lakewood Boulevard is the one that she tells people about the most. The McDonald’s is known for its Googie-style architecture, Speedee figure and food system, and car culture and outside burger stand.

Another historic place that Phillips finds interesting is Johnie’s Broiler that is now Bob’s Big Boy Broiler because it has been in movies.

When it comes to the impact that historical preservation makes on a city is important to her.

“It makes it (city) more interesting otherwise we would have a boring city with not a lot going on. It makes it interesting for people who are visiting and when you have friends who come visit you have places to show them,” she said.

Phillips believes that the city is not doing enough to help save and restore places in Downey.

“I think there are places like the Avenue movie that are sitting empty and could be refurbished and being used. I think they try, I know like with the Bob’s Big Boy they helped to get that going and the McDonald’s that are open now,” Phillips said.

Historical preservation for Phillips means that we are preserving our history like a legacy to tell the children in the next generation and the world that something important or interesting happened in Downey.

With the recent demolition of the old NASA Boeing site, where the Apollo Space Program called home, with the exception of one of two buildings that were not taken down will soon have a shopping center called Tierra Luna.

Phillips is one of those residents who are not happy about the new shopping center being built on the land where the Apollo capsule was built.

“I don’t think we need another shopping mall, so it’s kind of disappointing. I am glad to see they are doing something with the property cause I really hate see buildings sit empty and wasted space like that…That space could probably be used differently and to better serve community. I really don’t think we need more shopping in Downey,” she said.

She follows several Facebook groups that talk saving parts of the city such as The Downey Conservancy group. While she doesn’t participate in conversations online about historical preservation she does take what she sees in the groups and has conversations with people about it.

Having personal memories of places in Downey has often been the starting point for saving a place because of the influence of the personal memory it has on someone.

For Phillips she also feels that saving places have to deal with the personal relationship you or your family has had with a place.

“It has a lot to do with their personal lives and what they choose to want to save and choose to want to restore and what they don’t care about,” Phillips said.

For her, it’s her personal memory of The Avenue movie theater which was built in 1922 that has been shut down and empty for years.

“We used to go there all the time when I was a kid, cheap movies and it was an adventure. We didn’t have a bigger movie theater until I was much older so that is where we went to the movies most of the time unless you wanted to go to a different city,” she said.

Several years ago, there was a campaign to Save the Avenue but since then not many have heard about what might happen to the old movie theater and wonder what has become of the saving it.

“We have a very interesting history and would just like to see it get preserved,” she said.