Monrovia Public Library
321 S. Myrtle Ave
Monrovia, CA 91016
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Bear Cubs at the Library
Bears seem to be a big theme in Monrovia, especially in Monrovia Library. Not only do we have a giant blue bear greeting you at the entrance to Youth Services, we have a marvelous mural hanging over the Heritage Room in the Adult and Teen Services wing.
The mural's history is a testament to dedication, perseverance and tremendous community spirit.
It all began in the mid-1930s with the formation of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Helen Katherine Forbes, a California artist, was hired to paint a mural in the Post Office in 1940, where it hung until 1964. She actually painted 2 murals on canvas: one of 4 bear cubs and one of their Mother. Her challenge was the large air vent in the middle of the project.
In 1964, when the Post Office closed down to move, the canvases were rolled up and stored in a basement where they languished until 2004, when Monrovian Walt Shelley found one of them. He promptly appealed to the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group (MOHPG) for funds to have the canvas professionally evaluated since it was quite deteriorated. A five year process of restoration, negotiating with the United States Post Office and coming up with $33,000.00 followed. The library was the lucky recipient of the beautifully restored art work. The mystery of the Mother Bear's whereabouts remains unsolved to this day.