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Preserving the Past for the Future

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

The Art Deco style, 12-story Clock Tower Building is Santa Monica’s first, and was, for a long time, its only high-rise building, designed by Walker and Eisen in 1929. For around 40 years, it held the record for the tallest building in the skyline.

Steve Lehne always knew he wanted to work with his hands as he was growing up. He spent time with his dad’s company, Lehne and Son, as a painting contractor while he was going through school. But, after college, he ended up helping to restore the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles. How did that exciting project come about?

It turns out that his mom and sister had formed a company, KC Restoration, that was refurbishing some of the wonderful buildings located around Los Angeles that had been created many years ago.

In addition to painting, Steve got into refinishing wood, doing interior metal work, and learning about exterior sandstone. “I wanted to restore everything!”

he explained enthusiastically.

His sister, Carolyn MacLeod, had studied to be a paint conservator, and she had worked with Roz Westmoreland, a well-known conservator. But, eventually the

two joined their mother, Kay, and KC Restoration evolved into a complete restoration company.

Some of their projects included Union Station, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Angel’s Flight, the Tower Theater, and the Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store, which was one of my favorite places to visit.

Many of you Santa Monica residents may recognize the Clock Tower atop the building at 225 Santa Monica Blvd., between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Steve’s goal is to repaint the outside of the building and to restore parts of the exterior concrete that have broken off over the years. He is also responsible for restoring the famous clock.

For this project, Steve hires masons, painters, metalsmiths, all trained craftsmen who are specialists in restoration. He also works closely with an architectural

engineering firm, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

This photo shows the rusted metal and the spalls on the building that have to be repaired.

Steve described that the original concrete breaks off from the steel structure, known as rebars. It is because the moisture penetrating the rebars causes them to expand, thus resulting in pieces of concrete chipping off. These pieces are called spalls. In restoring the walls, the workmen have to remove the damaged concrete, treat the rusted rebar and patch the affected area with a specialized concrete patch material. The masons will resculpt the damaged decorative patterns and profiles that define this Art Deco building.

To complete this project of repainting the 12-story building, Steve estimates it will take about 180 days. He predicts it will take 15 weeks to remove the paint. He will have six to eight painters and six to eight masons working.

There is metal work around the clock that needs to be replaced as it has been rusted.

By the time this Santa Monica Star October paper 2022 paper is in print, you may see scaffolding up around the building.

For more information about KC Restoration and their amazing projects, go to, or call 310-280-0597.

According to their website they focus on the preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of historic properties, having worked extensively on many landmark buildings in Southern California.

If you want to learn more about

Photos by Kaden Lehne

By Diane Margolin

Publisher, The Santa Monica Star

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