AKA: Cabrillo Statue, Point Loma, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: works of art - sculpture - public sculpture

Designers: Alvaro DeBree (sculptor)

Dates: constructed 1939

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Sculptor Alvaro DeBree created this stone likeness of the Portuguese navigator Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (in Spanish and "João Rodrigues Cabrilho" in his native Portuguese), (1499-1543), whose three-ship expedition first explored the California Coast between 09-11/1542. Originally produced for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco's Yerba Buena Island, it was eventually relocated to Point Loma. A National Park Service web site on statuary of San Diego, CA, said of the piece: "The Portuguese government originally commissioned Alvaro DeBree to create a statue of Cabrillo for exhibition at the 1939 New York World Fair. Too late for New York, the fourteen-foot statue arrived in San Francisco for that city's 1940 world fair. The damaged statue never got to the fair but ended up in a private garage in San Francisco. Col. Ed Fletcher, a state senator from San Diego, believed that the statue should come to San Diego. Governor Culbert Olson, however, promised the statue to the city of Oakland where a large number of Portuguese had settled. Fletcher persuaded the owner of the garage that he had the authority to remove the statue and took it to San Diego before Governor Olson could object. At San Diego the statue was placed at the west end of the Naval Training Center where it stayed through World War II." (See "Guns of San Diego: CHAPTER 8: ROADS, STATUES, CEMETERIES, AND FORT ROSECRANS,Accessed 06/13/2012.) The statue of Captain Cabrillo was moved to its current site in 1949. As part of the ten-year-long Mission 66 National Park Restoration effort (1955-1966), the statue was relocated. In 1988, a replica of DeBree's original statue was replaced at its 1949 Point Loma site.

The Cabrillo Statue was included as a contributing element of the Cabrillo National Monument on 10/15/1966; the statue itself, with its full history was created for National Parks Service's National Register of Historic Places inclusion on 09/18/1998. NPS documentation can be found at:Accessed 06/13/2012.)

Since its first placement at the Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument site, the original statue has been removed from public display. A National Park Service web site stated of this transport: "In 1949 the seven-ton statue was moved to Cabrillo National Monument and placed in a patio north of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. By this time the sculpture had received some damage. In 1965, the Park Service moved the statue to a dramatic overlook near the newly completed visitor center. The original statue carved from a porous,stratified limestone and broken in places, suffered greatly from the marine air. In the 1980's steps were taken to have the Portuguese sculptor Joao Charters Almeida carve an exact duplicate of the statue from harder limestone. This duplicate work was installed at the overlook in February 1988, and the original statue was placed in storage. Carved on the rear of the statue is 'Joao Rodrigues Cabrillho. Dascobridor California 1542' and the name of the original sculptor, 'Alvaro DeBree, 1939, Lisboa.' Though the original statue is of prime importance to the park for it purpose in commemorating the voyage of Cabrillo and as part of the 1934 landscape design of the park, it is considered non-contributing because it has been moved from its original site and is now in storage." (See "List of Classified Structures: Statue of Cabrillo,"Accessed 06/13/2012.)

PCAD id: 6735