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Touring 5 Millard Sheets Projects in Claremont and Pomona

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It's Sheets Week and we're celebrating Millard Sheets, the artist and architectural designer who dotted Southern California with beautiful modern Home Savings bank branches. Throughout the week, we'll be touring some of the Sheets buildings that still stand.

Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Garrison Theater, Scripps College
The Claremont Colleges umbrella org commissioned the 1963 theater from Sheets (after a lot of back and forth and canceled plans with other designers); he worked with architect S. David Underwood (who also worked on the Sheets studio with him). Garrison has a red polished granite facade set with "three monumental mosaics, thirty feet high, depicting scenes from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear," as described by the LA Conservancy in their Sheets booklet. Inside, there's a curved lobby "dominated by three enormous and colorful tapestries by artists Arthur and Jean Ames" and a 630-seat auditorium. Scripps took control of the theater in 1999 and renovated most of the stage and auditorium out of recognition, but the exterior is in "near-original condition."

US Bank, originally Pomona First Federal
The 1968 Claremont branch of PFF has "huge expanses of stone walls surrounded by an arcade of Egyptian-style lotus columns." On its south wall, it has "a mosaic of Native Americans on horses surrounded by flowering yucca plants"; inside, a "brightly colored painting of Native American villagers and their horses is set on a curved wall facing the entry doors." The building has been sensitively reworked over the years and in 1982 it got a complementary drive-through banking station on the east side of the parking lot, with "travertine cladding and mosaic decoration" designed by frequent Sheets collaborator Denis O'Connor.

American Museum of Ceramic Art, originally Pomona First Federal
BH Anderson (who also worked with Sheets on his studio) designed this building, which includes a 78 foot long mural called "Panorama of the Pomona Valley," designed by Sheets with frequent collaborator Sue Hertel. It "depicts one hundred years of history in the valley before the incorporation of Pomona in 1888, from the time of Native American settlements to the arrival of the railroad." AMOCA bought the building in 2010.

Chase Bank, originally Home Savings Tower
This six-story building was built in 1963 as an anchor for the Pomona Mall (more on that in a minute) for Home Savings, Sheets's frequent employer--"the lacy design on the exterior was created by weaving the initials 'H' and 'S' together. The ground and third floors are both "almost entirely glass" and are separated by a double band of travertine. As you can see, it's hiding behind scaffolding right now and, according to the LA Conservancy, Chase announced plans in 2011 to demolish the building.

Pomona Mall
When it opened in 1962, this "was hailed as one of the first pedestrian malls in the United States and nationally recognized asa blueprint for urban revitalization" (it was originally part of a master plan that would've covered most of the city). The project closed off nine blocks and added trees, benches, art, and fountains (with "plenty of nearby parking"). In 1977, five of the block were reopened to cars; the closed east end has since been swalloed by the Western University of Health Sciences campus. Meanwhile, though, several pieces by Sheets, Arthur and Jean Ames, Betty Davenport Ford, and John Svenson are still in place.

These photos were taken on the LA Conservancy's Sheets tour this past spring (the booklet for the tour is available online here); huge thanks to them!
· Sheets Week [Curbed LA]