Preserving the Memory of the “Pearl of the Pacific”
By Ann K. Williams
August 8 -- For more than thirty years, Louise Gabriel has been fascinated with the history and culture of Santa Monica, collecting memorabilia, photographs and stories and displaying them at her museum on Euclid Street.
Now Gabriel -- president and one of the founders of the Santa Monica Historical Society -- has written Early Santa Monica, a volume of 200 vintage photos and facts illustrating life in the “Jewel of the Sunset Bay” from its founding to 1950.
She had no salary and no staff. So Gabriel made do with donations -- from a rent-free space found by her husband, Bob Gabriel, to display cases donated by a jewelry store that went out of business.
People in town donated artifacts and folks who’d moved out of state sometimes sent her their treasures. A particularly exciting find was a large heavy package that came in the mail from Ohio.
It was covered with stamps, as though the sender had cleaned out her stamp drawer, Gabriel said. When she opened it, she found the guest book from the Santa Monica Hotel, the very first hotel in the city.
Now Gabriel and her staff are getting ready for next year’s move into a “state-of-the-art” museum in the new main public library.
And she’s working on a second volume of Santa Monica history, from 1950 to the present.
It’s all an expression of her “love for Santa Monica,” Gabriel said. “We have everything here you could ever want. I’m just doing my share in keeping it that way.”
You can meet Louise Gabriel at a lecture and book signing this Sunday, August 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth Street, Santa Monica. Admission is free.
For a sneak preview, here are a few more of the photos from Early Santa Monica:
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