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'Red Car Mural' debuts as San Marino celebrates its centennial

February 17, 2013 |  9:25 am


A mural celebrating San Marino's Pacific Electric Railway trolley system made its official debut last week, a gift to the city to mark its centennial anniversary.

The idea sprung from a chance meeting between muralist Brian Kenyon and Councilman City Dennis Kneier, who along with the Rotary Club wanted to present the city with something special to mark its 100th birthday.

“It was good fortune, wonderful timing and pure luck,” Kneier said.

Many local residents have started referring to the painting as the Red Car Mural. The mural is painted on an 18-by-52-foot wall in the 2200 block of Huntington Drive.

It was unveiled Thursday at an invitation-only luncheon at the fire station across from City Hall.

San Marino resident Henry Huntington introduced the trolley system to Southern California in the 1900s, said Wendell Mortimer, president of the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation and advisor to the mural project.

The San Marino line traveled throughout Huntington Drive, Oak Knoll Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard and went all the way to Glendora, Mortimer said.

“San Marino has been a bedroom community for Los Angeles,” Mortimer said. “[The mural] is something that adds to the ambience of the city.”

The mural depicts the red, wooden Pacific Electric No. 1051 car, which was built the same year San Marino was founded, 1913, Mortimer said.

Though the project was in talks for several years, the painting of the mural itself started in mid-January because the host building was being remodeled, Kenyon said.

“San Marino has been very good to me,” Kenyon said. “I wasn’t that familiar with San Marino before I started the mural, but the people have been really nice and reasonable.”

Kenyon and Mortimer reviewed many historic photographs to get the details of the car right, Mortimer said.

“[The mural] is not a photograph; it’s not meant to be, but it does have the spirit of the red car,” Mortimer said.


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Photo: Muralist Brian Kenyon at the dedication of of the 'Red Car Mural' in San Marino. Credit: Tim Berger / Times Community News