The IAMLA Announces a Generous Gift from
The G.H. Palmer Family Foundation
The G.H. Palmer Family Foundation of Beverly Hills, California
made a generous contribution to the IAMLA
and has joined the Museum's
elite cadre of donors known as the Founding Families.

The IAMLA’s Founding Family designation was created as a way to recognize individuals and families whose dedication, generosity and
achievements make them ripe for distinction.
The Palmer family’s journey to the United States began not in Italy but in Hungary and the Ukraine during the early twentieth century. Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I, a period of political instability ensued in Hungary. The nation’s fledgling attempt at a modern democracy, the Hungarian Democratic Republic, failed, and the Hungarian Soviet Republic, a communist state, took its place.
Consisting primarily of unemployed soldiers, intellectuals, and Jews, the Hungarian Communist Party created a constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as well as free education, linguistic and cultural tolerance, and voting rights. It nationalized industrial and commercial enterprises and socialized housing, transportation, banking, medicine, cultural institutions, and large landholdings. To consolidate its power, however, the government resorted to arbitrary violence, including executions and expropriations of grain from peasants, acts that came to be known as the “red terror.”
Hungarian Social Democratic Party poster from 1919 that reads,
“Painting the Hungarian Parliament Building r
ed.”
A Hungarian mother and her children arrive at Ellis Island in 1909
The regime’s vengeful violence led to its fall after only four months. A militantly anti-communist authoritarian government replaced the communist party, and a two-year period of repressive violence, known as the “white terror,” ensued. Thousands of Jews, intellectuals, communists, socialists, and suspected sympathizers of the former regime were imprisoned, tortured, and executed without trial. Many victims were hanged in public places as a warning. The country’s Jewish community, numbering approximately 825,000, was particularly targeted for retribution. The white terror prompted the exodus of an estimated 100,000 people, while internal chaos, unemployment, and soaring inflation led scores of others to leave.
Bella and Armand Weisinger’s petitions to become naturalized citizens of the United States
Among the emigrants were Armand and Bella Weisinger and their two-year-old son, Danesh, who arrived in New York in 1922 and settled in Harlem. Armand, who had been a sheet music publisher in Hungary, found work as a salesman and piano worker before establishing a Hungarian import business. Bella became a dressmaker in New York’s garment district.
Five years later, the family sent for Bella’s mother, who had remained in Budapest. Their timing was fortuitous. The loss of nearly two-thirds of Hungary’s lands, together with the postwar socioeconomic upheaval and ballooning foreign debt, catalyzed deep feelings of humiliation and resentment among many Hungarians. Anti-Semitism, which had repeatedly led to tragic consequences, intensified. Following the Nazi occupation, tens of thousands of Jewish young men were pressed into forced labor. An estimated 435,000 Jewish men, women, and children were transported to Auschwitz. By the end of World War II, approximately 469,000 Hungarian Jews had been murdered, including members of the Weisinger family.
Hungarian Jewish women and children upon their arrival at the Auschwitz death camp in 1944
Like many immigrants, the Weisingers regarded the United States as a place of refuge and freedom, where hard work and frugality were integral to realizing the opportunities the country offered. Although half the nation’s Jewish population lived in New York City, making it the world’s largest Jewish community, Jews faced considerable discrimination in housing and employment and were denied membership to universities, clubs, and organizations. Despite this, Armand and Bella’s son, Danesh, later gained admission to the prestigious New York University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1942. Shortly after his graduation, Danesh changed his name to Dan Saxon Palmer.
1940s view of Washington Square and New York University
While attending NYU, Dan met his future wife, Doris Weintraub, who was also an architecture student. Doris’s parents, Jacob Weintraub and Anna Fialkoff, were immigrants who had fled pogroms in Eastern Europe. Derived from the Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc,” pogroms were anti-Jewish riots, attacks, and massacres that took place with de facto government approval from the 1880s onward in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.
Yearbook photo of Doris Weintraub, in the second row on the right, who was a member of Yonkers High School’s female debate team, the Philaltheans
The Weintraub family had been wealthy grain merchants in their native Ukraine, and was forced to sell their property at a fraction of its value. Bertha Weintraub, the family matriarch, traded the money the family received from the sale of their land into diamonds, which she hid in a small pouch and sewed underneath the lining of her coat. When the family arrived at the Belarus border, where they would continue to Holland and board the ship to the United States, Bertha’s coat was confiscated. The Weintraubs arrived in New York nearly penniless.
The Weintraub family in the early 1900s
Anna Fialkoff and Jacob Weintraub, like tens of thousands of their Jewish and Italian immigrant contemporaries, found their first jobs in schmatta, or the garment industry, where they later met. Anna worked as a tailor before becoming a bookkeeper. As seamstresses, pattern makers, pressers, and machine operators, Jewish and Italian immigrants played an integral role in making New York a center of the clothing industry. They also stood at the forefront of the labor movement and struggles for humane working conditions.
The International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) stages a strike against the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. Months later, in March of 1911, a fire in the factory killed 146 people, the majority of which were Jewish and Italian women and girls.
The German-Jewish Straus family, who assumed ownership of Macy’s department store in 1896, and their longtime competitor, the Gimbel Brothers, also Bavarian Jews, whose department store chain was once the nation’s largest, are two examples of American business empires whose origins can be traced to a humble pushcart and general store. Jacob Weintraub, the youngest of seven children, worked as a tailor in a sweatshop by day, and attended school in the evenings.
During World War I, the factory where Jacob was employed received a contract to manufacture pea coats for the military. After learning that the owners needed to sell the business, Jacob’s years of parsimony prevailed; he offered the proprietors a fair price, all cash, which they accepted. Jacob later became a masonry contractor and finally, a builder. Over a thirty-year period, Jacob constructed seventeen high-rises in New York. Anna and Jacob, who had truly achieved the American Dream, wanted the best for Doris, their only daughter and an exemplary student with a passion for design.
Doris Weintraub as a young woman
During World War II, Dan served in the Army Corps of Engineers as a mapmaker, draftsman and photographer in England and France. Following the completion of his military service, Dan and Doris married and the couple moved to California, where Dan eventually established an architecture firm. The fledgling company, Dan Saxon Palmer AIA, hired William Krisel who was then completing his studies in architecture at USC. They later formed the partnership Palmer and Krisel AIA. Palmer and Krisel became pioneers in the modernist movement, designing modernist tract homes that became the backbone of Southern California's suburban post-war boom. In the early 1950s, Palmer and Krisel received a commission for a housing tract, Corbin Palms, in the western San Fernando Valley, which was followed by other developments such as Devonshire Woods and Parkwood Estates, Pomona’s Valwood Estates, Midland Meadows in Fullerton, and Gilbert Grove Estates in Anaheim.

Dan Palmer, left, and William Krisel in 1958
Credited with bringing modernism to the masses, Palmer and Krisel’s signature homes, with post-and-beam construction, open floor plans, an abundance of glass, and clean, simple lines, have become synonymous with Southern California mid-century architecture. The team designed an estimated 30,000 homes in Southern California alone, and won several prestigious awards for architectural innovation and design.
A midcentury home designed by Palmer Krisel in Rancho Mirage, California


Palmer also designed commercial developments that played an integral role in the development of the city’s modern financial district and its skyline, including, in 1968, the iconic City National Bank building in downtown Los Angeles, pictured left, which was among the city’s first high rises. In collaboration with prominent Los Angeles architect Welton Becket, Palmer designed Mount Sinai Hospital on Beverly Boulevard, which is now Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
As early as 1944, Doris received recognition for her designs, some of which were co-executed with her husband, including a modular, paneled, aluminum system case study house, which was featured in Arts and Architecture magazine. In the design statement for the “Designs for Postwar Living” competition that the couple entered, Doris asserted, “The standard of living has advanced, technical achievement has reached new heights, new materials have come to the fore. A new design must evolve integrating the industrial advancements into a pattern for post-war living.”
Arts and Architecture magazine cover from 1944 featuring a Ray Eames design.
The Palmer family first settled in Silverlake, a sleepy, residential community north of downtown, where they lived in the iconic Falk Apartments designed by architect R.M. Schindler. On the weekends, Doris often donned her white gloves and a fashionable suit and, with her children in tow, boarded the Red Car, an electricity-powered street car, in the direction of downtown Los Angeles. Geoffrey, Doris’s second-born son, loved to accompany his mother on such outings. To young Geoffrey, the bustle of the Historic Broadway corridor contained a seemingly endless number of fascinating sights and experiences: opulent historic movie theaters, relics of a bygone era; young couples, arm in arm, peering into jewelry store windows, their showcases filled with sparkling diamonds; mannequins dressed in stylish couture at Bullock’s; and, his favorite, Desmond’s department store, whose displays of the latest children’s toys never failed to entice.
Lobby of the historic Los Angeles Theater on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles
(photo courtesy of Discover Los Angeles)

Although downtown Los Angeles experienced a rapid decline in the decades that followed, and the Palmer family would soon move to Westdale, a middle class neighborhood adjacent to Mar Vista on Los Angeles’ Westside, Geoff’s love for the city’s historic core intensified. Growing up surrounded by noteworthy architecture, with a designer for a mother, an architect for a father, and a builder as a grandfather, it is little wonder that Geoff, pictured right, knew from the time he was a child that he would pursue a career in real estate.
After completing his undergraduate work in finance and real estate at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Geoff enrolled at the Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, California, for his Juris Doctorate. In 1978, Geoff established G.H. Palmer Associates and began developing apartments for sale throughout Southern California. Six years later, the company, significantly capitalized, initiated the development of income properties to hold. In 1985, he built 384 townhomes in Santa Clarita with 4,500 apartments to follow. Three years later, Palmer constructed Skyline Terrace, a 198-unit complex adjacent to downtown Los Angeles that boasted soaring views.
View from the Skyline Terrace Apartments in downtown Los Angeles
Considered a trailblazer of downtown Los Angeles’ revival, Geoff believed in the urban core long before downtown became one of the most sought-after urban housing markets in the country, and luxury residential towers, trendy boutiques, and restaurants lined its streets. The year was 1992, and civil unrest had left a significant scar on the city. After three days of arson and looting, 3,767 buildings were burned, 53 people were killed, and more than 2,000 were injured. The estimated value of property damage exceeded $1 billion. The civil unrest, and lingering fears about the city’s volatility, drove out commerce and jobs, and discouraged investment. Over 100,000 local jobs vanished; the California Economic Development Department stated that the city’s labor market was "experiencing one of the most severe recessions of the postwar era."
As investors fled, Geoff was among the first to have a crane on the ground in downtown Los Angeles. Questioning the sustainability of building housing in distant suburbs that required two-hour commutes, Geoff envisioned a revitalized community with upscale residences that would appeal to young professionals in part because of its proximity to the city center, entertainment, employment, cultural attractions, and transportation networks. Although Geoff was largely alone in his vision, he continued.

Having traveled the world, Geoff found the architecture of Italy and France particularly inspirational. In 2001, Geoff, completed a 632-unit Italianate complex on Bixel Street near the Harbor Freeway, which he named the Medici, pictured above.
Interactive dancing fountains at The Lorenzo, located at 325 W. Adams in Los Angeles
Following the model of resort-style living in a metropolitan setting, other projects soon followed, such as the 1,072-unit Orsini located at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Figueroa; the 297-unit Visconti, completed in 2006; the 560-unit Piero, completed in 2011; the 913- unit Lorenzo, adjacent to the University of Southern California, completed in 2014; and the 526-unit Da Vinci, completed in 2016.
The Broadway Palace Apartments
Boasting amenities such as Olympic-sized swimming pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys, landscaped courtyards, city views, valet parking, indoor volleyball and basketball courts, and professional fitness centers, the properties, referred to collectively as the “Renaissance Collection,” have attracted young professionals and students to the community. Geoff’s recent project, the Broadway Palace, an apartment complex in the historic South Park District of Downtown Los Angeles, is a nod to the district’s golden-era elegance and glamour that enchanted him as a child.
Today, G. H. Palmer Associates provides housing for over 20,000 people, is among the city’s largest tax payers, and has created thousands of jobs. In 2004, Geoff, pictured right, joined the board of the Los Angeles Music Center. He has also served as trustee for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2006, Geoff partnered with Pepperdine University and endowed the Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law. His historic gift was the largest that the school had received from a Pepperdine School of Law graduate.
The G.H. Palmer Family Foundation’s generous gift helped restore portions of the Italian Hall's historic façade. When the Italian Hall, now home of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, was constructed in 1908, an ornate cornice, decorative corbels, and inset terra cotta panels graced the building’s exterior.
The Italian Hall, circa 1917, showing the original cornice, corbels, and decorative panels
In 1949, the city of Los Angeles passed the Parapet Correction Ordinance, which required that unreinforced masonry and concrete parapets be retrofitted to minimize hazards. The expense associated with retrofitting the cornice likely led to its removal, along with the corbels, in the 1950s. By 2010, several of the building’s decorative inset terra cotta panels had crumbled and were removed. The remaining panels were severely deteriorated. The G.H. Palmer Family Foundation’s gift enabled the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles to replicate the historic cornice, corbels, and terra cotta panels to return key elements of the building’s façade to its original splendor.
The Italian Hall’s restored Main Street façade
Learn more about the façade restoration by watching this video!
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