SOURCE: Barona Band of Mission Indians

Barona Band of Mission Indians

September 20, 2016 18:22 ET

Barona Cultural Center & Museum to Unveil "Stones in the Meadow: Irving Gill's Church and Cottages on the Barona Indian Reservation" on September 20, 2016

New Barona Exhibit Part of a Multi-Site Collaborative Tribute Honoring the Works of Irving Gill -- A Founder of Modern Architecture

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Sep 20, 2016) - The Barona Cultural Center & Museum will unveil "Stones in the Meadow: Irving Gill's Church and Cottages on the Barona Indian Reservation," on September 20, 2016. Barona Museum is one of ten museums and cultural institutions in San Diego County set to celebrate his influential legacy for six months beginning in late September.

Gill, who trained with Frank Lloyd Wright before moving west, designed many buildings that are now considered San Diego landmarks. Credited with launching the modern architectural movement in San Diego in 1907, his work includes the home of Ellen Browning Scripps (today's Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla), The Bishop's School in La Jolla and the Marston House in Balboa Park.

Until recently, few people knew the culmination of Gill's historic career was on the Barona Indian Reservation. In the early 1930s, he was hired by the federal government to design and build a collection of small homes on the reservation. Gill's work at Barona, his last commission, dealt with an architectural problem that had always concerned him: how to design low-cost housing for people of modest means. In 1932, because of his commitment to such causes, the federal government commissioned him to design 30 small cottages on the Barona Indian Reservation for Barona Tribal members who were forced from their former home on the Capitan Grande reservation to make way for a government sanctioned dam and reservoir.

"We are honored to be collaborating with Southern California's top cultural institutions to offer a look into Irving Gill's work on our reservation," said Bonnie LaChappa, Barona Tribal Councilwoman. "We hope visitors will gain a broader understanding of his architectural works here on our reservation and what it meant to our Barona community."

"Stones in the Meadow" will offer a behind-the-scenes look into the acclaimed architect's work on the Barona Indian Reservation as told by the People of Barona. Many of the items in the exhibit were donated from Tribal members, including the original brick mold used to build the Gill homes, some of Gill's original interior furnishings, photos of the original pencil drawings Gill sketched before building the church and a Fresno scraper used for building roads on the reservation.

"It is fitting that the name of Barona's exhibit is 'Stones in the Meadow' as inspired by one of Gill's most famous quotes about his guiding architectural principles," said James B. Guthrie, AIA, curator of the Gill Exhibition. "He was a deep believer in structures that harmonized and worked in synergy with the land they were built upon, a belief shared by the Barona people. I applaud their efforts to collaborate on this unprecedented project to preserve this compatible legacy for generations to come."

While Gill was chosen by the federal government to build homes on the reservation, a high priority for the Tribe was a place of worship. Gill worked closely with Tribal leaders to design a church that could be paid for and built by the Tribe. Construction on the church began in 1932 and it was dedicated to The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15, 1934. It remains an important place for Catholics to worship today as part of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish.

As part of the new exhibition, Barona will also be offering guided tours of the Barona Mission to the public beginning Friday, October 7 and continuing on the first Friday of every month, by appointment.

Of the 30 homes planned for the Barona Tribe, about a dozen were built. Over the years, the homes have been expanded and modernized and many of them are still occupied today.

"There is excitement in the San Diego community and among architectural fans because many of them didn't even realize Gill's works were accessible on the Barona Indian Reservation," said Laurie Egan-Hedley, director and curator of the Barona Cultural Center & Museum. "With the help of several Barona Tribal members who donated artifacts and shared family history, we have pieced together the story of Gill's last project and created an exhibit for architecture buffs as well as those interested in this little known part of Native American history."

Gill is known as a pioneer of the modern movement in architecture. He designed several buildings considered examples of San Diego's best architecture. Twelve of his buildings throughout Southern California are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many others are designated as historic by local governments. 

The Barona Cultural Center & Museum is located on the Barona Indian Reservation at 1095 Barona Road in Lakeside just one mile north of the Barona Resort & Casino. It is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information or to schedule a group tour, call 619-443-7003 ext. 219 or visit www.baronamuseum.org.

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