Father Francisco Garces Statue
The statue “Father Garces” is State Historical Landmark No. 277.
From the LA Times, 7 May 1939, “Indians will unveil, a right reverend monsignor will bless, the statue of Padre Garces at Bakersfield, 2 p.m. today. Made by John Palo-Kangas on the Federal Art Project, it is State Historical Landmark Reg. No. 277, and represents the first white man to enter the Kern region. A Garces Memorial Committee made possible the statue and will conduct today’s elaborate program.”
The sculpture is carved from Indiana limestones on a Carnelian granite base. The figure of Garces itself is 16’4″ and with the base, the statue as a whole is over 22 feet tall.
“The statue was sculpted in 1939 and placed in the center of Garces Circle and was once a prominent feature of US Route 99, The circle was built by the Division of Highways in 1935 as the neighborhood began to grow and traffic along the highway was increasing. The circle was used for years as a public park.
In 1955, with traffic congestion still a problem a bridge was constructed over the circle and the statue was moved to its current location 55 feet from the center. US Route 99 was moved in 1964 to a new freeway facility and the highway is now known as State Route 204.” (https://www.waymarking.com)
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"New Murals, Sculpture Begun By Federals," LA Times, 24 July 1938, p. C7 "Brush Strokes," LA Times, 7 May 1939, p. C8 https://www.newdealartregistry.org https://www.waymarking.com/ Further project information submitted by Bakersfield High School Archives.
Project originally submitted by Douglas Dodd on March 12, 2009.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE
I would be curious to know other intersections between the New Deal and native americans. My uninformed very tentative suspicion is that it was one of the blind spots, or a development that would have needed more agitation from the Left.
Today, not that any government programs show the least amount of guidance by this truth, Missionaries like Junipero Serra and Garces are recognized as brutal colonists. And the reservation system that choked the traditional american cultures from the 1880s onwards is recognized as the continuation of the Missions they begat.
Check out the section of the website called inclusion. It is how the New Deal impacted all sectors of the population. https://livingnewdeal.org/what-was-the-new-deal/new-deal-inclusion/american-indians-and-the-new-deal/