CIVR Blog: Catalina Island design

Catalina Island's serpentine wall owes its existence to Otis Shepard and his wife Dorothy

Catalina Island’s serpentine wall owes its existence to Otis Shepard and his wife Dorothy

Catalina Island owes its present reality to many people: the Banning Brothers and the Wrigley family in particular were instrumental in shaping the future of the island and crafting Avalon into the tourists’ mecca it is today. Those men were far from alone, however, and many others had a hand in sculpting what Avalon looks like today.

One of the creative geniuses who influenced much of Catalina Island’s design was Otis Shepard, a legendary designer and artist who was a favorite of P.K. Wrigley. Shepard got his start in the 1920s painting billboards. He and his wife, Dorothy, another legendary designer, spent much of the early ‘30s designing and developing architectural guidelines and design elements that brought a cohesive sense of style to Avalon. Inspired by early California, including Spanish missions, Native American elements and Mexican art, much of the Shepards’ vision can still be seen today. The serpentine wall along Crescent Avenue, the distinctive street lights along Avalon’s waterfront and even the font on the street signs all were created by Otis and Dorothy Shepard.

Catalina Island’s design and architecture were far from the only Shepard creations to live on into the future. The Shepards and Wrigley continued to collaborate, with the Shepards creating the distinct style of the advertising for Wrigley Chewing Gum as well as the image of the Chicago Cubs.

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