Original mural being painted by Robert Freeman, 1967

Original mural being painted by Robert Freeman, 1967

Finished mural.jpg

the year was 1967...

A new branch of the County of Los Angeles Public Library opened on Del Mar in San Gabriel. An enthusiastic Friends of the Library group formed and immediately addressed concerns about the effects of Proposition 13 on library funding. 

As the years went by, the group continued to advocate for library services in tough times and in good times. Through storing and processing donated books, the Friends of the Library group ran large lucrative book sales and funded the purchase of many items to add to the library collection -- books, magazines, and reference materials.

With amazing foresight in 1984, the Friends group commissioned a Native American artist, Robert Freeman to paint a large mural on an overhanging library wall. This mural depicts a scene from the Mission and the inhabitants and surroundings. It depicts the abundance of cattle and grapes that were so much a part of the wealth created around the San Gabriel Mission.

Current Friends members and library staff remember the actual painting of the mural with some amazement. A scaffold was built across the library leaving an ever-changing path for customers to walk under. Artist, Robert Freeman prepped the wall and drew the original mural across the wall free hand. Then he started painting a little at a time. Bright colors came forth with the sky and the foreground. Months of painting went into the creation of this one-of-a-kind mural, now registered with the L.A. Arts Commission as a fine example of public art.

As the years went by, the Friends of the Library stayed in tune to changes. The San Gabriel Library was becoming a community center -- a place for meeting and learning. The group raised money for meetings and programs and events that involved the community coming together. Of special interest were children's programs and the summer reading programs for children that kept children reading in the summer and returning to school academically ready to go. Magicians were hired; wild animals were featured; happy and hungry youngsters made ice cream sundaes. Grants were written; partners were found; a lavish gala fundraiser was run.