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Auto Museum Update

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Progress continues at the San Diego Automotive Museum, where the Balboa Park Committee of 100's contractors, led by job superintendent Shane Liberty of Barnhart-Reese Construction, finishes up wall preparation.



They will install four tile murals and ornamentation, recreating the public on what was the California State Building at the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935-36. The workers braced the upper level of the parapet and patched the stucco that will be painted the historic "bagel" color used originally.


City crews painted the entire building last year, using materials supplied by C100 from donations by members and supporters.


The Balboa Park Committee of 100's Auto Museum project also includes the reconstruction of ornamental elements that originally graced the parapet of what was originally the California State Building during the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition.


Bellagio Precast of San Diego, headed by Michael Matson, has recreated the items in glass-fiber reinforced concrete and they will be attached to the building by stainless steel brackets, fabricated by Ehmcke Sheet Metal, also a local company.


The originals were fashioned by Juan Larrinaga, a Hollywood set designer who oversaw decorative elements at the fair. They were interpretations of ancient Maya and Aztec design motifs used in Central American buildings. But to meet the tight expo deadlines, they were fabricated in Canec, a temporary building material made from sugar cane remnants that quickly deteriorated over time, and were removed after the fair.


The new ornamental features are just part of C100's restoration of the building's artistic elements. Four murals of California scenes over the entrance have been reproduced in ceramic tile.


The first phase of the project will be done by April. The second phase, including the installation of replicas of the 1935 California grizzly bear statues and flagpoles on the roof, is expected to follow once permits are issued.


- Roger Showley

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