Restoring a Landmark: A Salute to the Past and the Future
Henry E. Huntington went to great lengths (and heights) to show his patriotic spirit when he purchased a grand flagpole in 1909. Made from 148 feet of solid Douglas fir and standing proudly near the Huntington Art Gallery, this magnificent landmark is undergoing a major restoration that includes reinforcing, sanding, and repainting.
To support the flagpole’s refresh, The Huntington turned to its community of members and donors, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. For long-standing member Andrew Schmoller, the restoration was the perfect opportunity to show his support for The Huntington. Schmoller fondly remembers his mother introducing him to the gardens and art galleries as a child, and it’s a tradition he has continued with his daughters. Huntington visits with family and friends are times that he cherishes, but he also appreciates quiet visits to the gardens, where he can observe the historical details of the estate. “Some of my favorite Huntington moments are in the early morning, getting lost in the gardens and seeing the Stars and Stripes flying high above,” he says. “When I learned that this storied flagpole required major restoration, I didn’t hesitate to get involved. The pole is the foundation for the flag—a beacon of freedom and liberty.”
Towering 132 feet above ground with 16 feet anchored underground in a concrete base, the flagpole has such a convincing metallic paint job that most Huntington visitors have no idea the pole is made of wood. The flagpole’s journey from Oregon to San Marino was no easy task. In his memoirs, William Hertrich, who was superintendent of the Huntington estate from 1905 to 1948, recalls the harrowing road trip through early Los Angeles.
“[W]e used secondary roads whenever possible to avoid traffic,” Hertrich writes. “We made good progress until at one point we reached a right-angle turn in the road. It could not be negotiated without passing over an alfalfa patch in front of a small farmhouse.” After an unsuccessful attempt to locate the owner to ask permission to cross his field, they had no choice but to proceed without it. “Imagine our surprise on starting across to look up and see the farmer marching out of his house with a shotgun in his hand.”
After hasty assurances from Hertrich that they would compensate the farmer for any damages—and after paying a $1 toll for the shortcut—the wagon team was allowed to continue on its way.
The flagpole arrived safely in San Marino and has been standing tall ever since. Thanks to the generosity of more than 200 Huntington friends, donors, and members, the flagpole will be restored to its glory so that visitors can see the flag triumphantly waving from almost every part of the grounds—just as Mr. Huntington envisioned.
“The flagpole serves as a reminder that beyond the beauty of the gardens, The Huntington is responsible for ensuring the preservation of its extraordinary collections for the use and enjoyment of future generations,” Schmoller says.
For more information about supporting the Flagpole Restoration Project, please contact Marina Kohler, donor engagement director, at 626-405-3497 or email@example.com.