by Paul R. Spitzzeri
A new Wells Fargo Bank branch in the City of Industry just a short distance from the museum includes an exceptional mural depicting local history, including a few images provided by the Homestead.
The work, displayed at the new location at the northwest corner of Valley and Hacienda boulevards, includes elements of the ranching and agricultural background of our area, along with other references.
The Homestead’s contributions include an image of the Workman House at the lower left, in front of which is a paycheck from the museum’s collection from the La Puente walnut packing house. A rendering of the packing house, which was the world’s largest when it was completed about 1920, is next to an image of some wording from a Wells Fargo receipt for money sent to Walter P. Temple when he traveled in Mexico in 1894-95—that receipt is also in the Homestead’s holdings. Right of center is a portion of a map of Rancho La Puente, also provided by the museum, with the detail showing the “Puente Valley,” the name of which is reflected in another map highlighted just a couple of days ago on this blog.
Images from other local sources include walnut packing house workers, some posed with large sacks of the nuts (the Homestead was planted with walnuts during the 1920s when the Temples owned the 92-acre ranch); a group of five women, looking to be from about the 1910s, with a Wells Fargo express label in front of them; a couple of bank-related pamphlets; and a picture of Hudson School with students and teachers in front of the 1889 building. The name of the City of Industry is at the lower center with an aerial image of the area behind it.
The mural is a very attractive, eye-catching, and diverse representation of our local history and, hopefully, will draw a lot of attention from bank patrons. The Homestead is glad that it could provide some of the material for the mural.
Wells Fargo, which was founded in San Francisco in 1852, has long been a promoter of the history of the institution and the communities it serves. Its Community Mural Program, according to a web page about it, features “the geography, industry and cultural diversity that give each community its unique character and sense of place.” The program has been in existence now since 2002.
The custom murals involve a research team working with local organizations, such as the Homestead, “to discover the stories that represent that community’s legacy.” Graphic designers working for Wells Fargo then “create a visual narrative” based on the documents, photos and maps gathered in the research phase. Typically, material is emphasized from the mid-1800s, when the bank was founded, to the mid-1900s. Of particular interest are items that reflect “a sense of history, diversity, optimism and progress.” Images of early settlers, agriculture, community landmarks and others are also typical.
The collage effect includes photos that “are cleaned, colorized, then interwoven with” other material so that each mural tells a story about that community. Some of these are outside the branch, though, in this case, the mural is inside. Title frames and mural keys provide some information about the content, as well. The website has nine examples from three regions, including the east coast, southwest and “Pacific Midwest,” but the program has an astounding 2,400 or so examples throughout the country. The company also has a section of the web page devoted to mural examples that highlight civil rights (such as one in Birmingham, Alabama) and LGBT history (West Hollywood).
Again, the Homestead was happy to take part in providing material for the mural in the new City of Industry branch and hopes that patrons are drawn to the beautiful works and learn something about their local history.
For more about the mural program, see this web page.