A lost mural by Margaret Bruton returns

Money Mural at the Wilshire Hub
Replica of Margaret Bruton's Money Mural by Hattas Public Murals at The Wilshire Hub

A lost mural by Margaret Bruton has been returned to its original location, nearly 70 years after it was first placed on the wall.

Back in 1953, Margaret Bruton was hired to create a mural for the lobby of the Standard Federal Savings and Loan Building on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Los Angeles. Since the mural was located in a bank, Margaret included abstract representations of the evolution of currency; she incorporated images of tobacco, cobs, a money tree, and coins. 

Margaret Bruton's Money Mural
Margaret Bruton's Money Mural
Joseph Young, Mosaics: Principals and Practice (New York:  Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1963)

The enormous mural, which was 12 feet tall and 32 feet wide, came to be known as the Money Mural.  Made in pieces of terrazzo, it was described as "rich in warm hues of green and yellowish brown, laced with gold."[1]   Margaret's modernist mural was the perfect compliment to the mid-century modern architecture.

Margaret Bruton's Money Mural
Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1953

An advertisement announcing the opening of the building proclaimed that the mural, "designed by the internationally famous muralist Margaret Bruton... is most certainly destined to become an outstanding point of cultural interest in Southern California."[2]  Eventually, the mural was removed from the building, probably during a later renovation when it was decided that it didn't complement a new decorating scheme.  It makes you wonder what happened to those heavy pieces of terrazzo when they were removed from the wall.  Were they simply smashed into pieces, or did someone have the sense to save them?  We may never know.

Thankfully, the current owners of the building decided to bring back this important piece of history. Principal owner Sauli Danpour contacted me to let me know about the project. "The fascinating history of the three sisters and their mural work has inspired us to replicate the mural in our lobby," Danpour said in an email. They hired Hattas Public Murals to recreate Margaret's work (check out the amazing murals on their website)

You can see videos of the mural installation in progress on The Wilshire Hub Instagram page.

Artists working on the installation of the Money Mural replica

The completed mural debuted last month, along with a poster that tells the story of the Bruton sisters and the original work.  What an amazing tribute to Margaret Bruton, women artists, and art history.  Thank you Wilshire Hub!


[1] "Bruton Sisters Add Luster to Monterey Name," Monterey Peninsula Herald, November 2, 1953, A15.

[2] Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1953.


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