“By Gads! This must be paradise,” is the expression famously attributed to Lucky Baldwin in 1875 upon first seeing the land that would, years later, become the City of Arcadia.
Arcadia’s founding father, Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin, will be honored for his pioneering and visionary contributions to Arcadia and the San Gabriel Valley with a bronze statue entitled “A Dawn in the West” that will be unveiled and dedicated on Tuesday, April 16 at 4 p.m. in the Reverend Monsignor Gerald M. O’Keeffe Rose Garden, near the Arcadia Community Center at 365 Campus Drive, Arcadia.
“We are so pleased that we are able to pay tribute to the great visionary Elias Baldwin,” said City of Arcadia’s Mayor, Robert C. Harbicht. “He was a forward thinker and a pioneer in the days when California was just beginning to blossom. He saw the beauty and potential in the San Gabriel Valley and he put into motion the dream he saw for this community. The tradition of horse racing is an excellent example of something that Lucky introduced to Arcadia and that flourishes to this day.” Harbicht said, “The City Council and community at-large are thankful to Lucky’s family for donating to the City this wonderful representation of our cherished past.”
Bringing the statue to fruition was a labor of love for the two donors, Margaux Gibson-Viera and Heather Gibson, great, great, great granddaughters of Lucky Baldwin. “Having Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin memorialized in the form of a statue has been a dream of mine. It gives me great joy and peace to know that this monument will stand for generations to come. I hope that E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin’s legacy is never forgotten and this representation of him will help to achieve that,” said Margaux Gibson-Viera. “This gift is not only to Arcadia, but to all of California and our United States of America. Elias Jackson was one of California’s greatest pioneers!”
“I am happy to donate the statue of Lucky Baldwin to the City of Arcadia along with my sister Margaux to honor the life of our great, great, great grandfather. I wish for this statue to inspire the youth of Arcadia to read and study history -- to look ahead and never give up. It is a reminder to all who come and visit of just how much one man or woman can do in a lifetime,” said Heather Gibson.
Mrs. Gibson-Viera and Ms. Gibson are descendants of Anita Baldwin, Lucky’s second daughter and the only child from his marriage with his third wife, Jane Virginia (Jennie) Dexter.
The majestic statue stands nine feet tall (13 feet with the base) and highlights a dignified yet unpretentious Baldwin in a vest and suit with a bowtie. He is realistically featured with a pocket watch draped across his mid-section and his characteristic hat in his hand. The statue will be positioned west with Lucky’s gaze focused in the direction of his homestead on the ranch and the famous Queen Anne Cottage that he built, which are now part of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
The statue was artfully designed and crafted by artist Alfred Paredes. Paredes, working out of his Pomona, CA studio, was honored to be a part of such a significant contribution to the Arcadia story. “It’s a real privilege and honor to be trusted with a family’s legacy,” said Paredes. “I take it seriously, and I am really glad that the family and City are so pleased with the work.” Paredes has been a sculptor for more than 15 years and has had his work displayed in Beverly Hills, Laguna Beach, on The Ellen Show and inSculpture Review Magazine, to name a few. Paredes has been the recipient of several sculpture awards including the 2010 Roger T. Williams prize by the National Sculpture Society.