Los Angeles County Arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof, Arcadia Mayor Bob Harbicht, and many other County and City officials celebrated the unveiling of the Arcadia Historical Society‘s newest History Lives Here marker on Oct. 2 near the entrance of the Arboretum.
The Marker, showcasing vintage photographs and descriptions of the history and evolution of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden that was once the home of Arcadia founder Lucky Baldwin, is the first to be entirely funded and presented by the independent Friends of the Society group, which supports the Society in many ways.
Arboretum workers installed the Marker in a beautifully landscaped area next to the sidewalk just east of the steps from the parking lot the the main entrance.
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Mayor Harbicht said the Markers are a wonderful way of taking history to the community as nine of them are now spread throughout the city in prominent locations where residents and visitors are bound to see one or more of them. Also offering comments of appreciation were Schulhof and Los Angeles County Department of Parks & Recreation Director Russ Guiney. Other dignitaries in attendance included County Parks Chief Deputy John Wicker, Councilman Gary Kovacic, City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto, and Library and Museum Services Director Mary Beth Hayes.
This is the Society’s ninth marker dedication in five years. The tenth Marker is ready for dedication coinciding with the unveiling of a new life-size statue of Lucky Baldwin, tentatively set for this fall or early 2013.
Among the little-seen photographs presented on the Arboretum Marker is an 1889 painting by H. H. Cross of Baldwin and daughter Anita sitting with dogs near the famous lake in front of the guest cottage (now called the Queen Anne Cottage); Lucky Baldwin’s nearby adobe home place of more than three decades (often called the Hugo Reid adobe, though Reid never lived there); and postcard views of the Baldwin Ranch, circa 1905, referred to by the Los Angeles Times in 1893 as one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world.
The 127-acre Arboretum was the heart of the sprawling Rancho Santa Anita, originally an outpost of Mission San Gabriel. Baldwin purchased 8,500 acres of Rancho Santa Anita in 1875 and eventually owned nearly 50,000 acres of today’s San Gabriel Valley before he died in 1909. His daughter Anita maintained her father’s beloved Santa Anita home site for decades but was forced to sell it in 1936 due to financial burdens created by the Great Depression. In 1947, the new owners, a real estate syndicate headed by the Chandler family (longtime owners of the Los Angeles Times) sold the prime property surrounding the adobe and cottage at less than market value to an ambitious group of horticulturists backed by the County and the State for the purpose of create an Arboretum. History still lives here because of their efforts.
The series of Historical Markers are part of the non-profit Society’s mission to create broader public awareness of noteworthy historical events, people, and landmarks in Arcadia. The Society’s first Historical Marker was presented during the Centennial Celebration of First Avenue Middle School in October 2007. Others since then: Los Angeles County’s Arcadia Park near the peacock fountain; the original City Hall on the northwest corner of Huntington Drive and First Avenue; the Woman’s Club of Arcadia on First Avenue; three presented during 75th Anniversary dedications for the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, Santa Anita Park, and Adams’ Pack Station; and most recently The Derby restaurant last year.
Sandy Snider researched, wrote and coordinated the photographs for the Derby, Arboretum, and upcoming Lucky Baldwin markers as a member of the Society’s Historical Marker Committee chaired by myself, Scott Hettrick, with assistance by Marker committee member Carol Libby.
– By Scott Hettrick