Fremont Place Monument Rebuilt Over Labor Day Weekend

A Fremont Place entry monument was repaired over the Labor Day Weekend

It seems fitting that we write about the efforts of three stone masons to repair one of the nearly 100 year-old monuments that mark the entrance to Fremont Place over the Labor Day weekend. The small monument on the east side of the entrance of Fremont Place was damaged in mid July, when a Beverly Hills Taxi Cab lost control at the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Rossmore and hit the monument. The monuments are made of cast cement with sand added to make them look like stone, a common construction practice in the early 1900s when Fremont Place was developed.

Originally, the entry monuments were much grander, featuring columns that connected the two large monuments with the smaller ones, creating an arch for visitors to walk through. Long time residents of Fremont Place don’t recall when the columns fell; some suggest they could have been damaged in 1931 Long Beach earthquake. The columns do not appear in an aerial photo taken in 1956.

Aerial photo from UCLA archives of Fremont Place, taken in 1922.

Until earlier this summer, the monuments had never been involved in a traffic accident that any of the locals can recall; a pretty good record over the past nearly 100 years.

Fortunately, the repair of the damaged monument was done Saturday morning by a crew of three stone masons from Bluestone Masonry, owned by Antonio Rodriguez. The crew started early by removing the planted urn sitting on top of the monument. The urns are relatively new, manufactured in 2003 and placed there as part of the front gate renovation under taken by Fremont Place in 2004. But they weigh several thousand pounds and required a bobcat to remove them for safekeeping while the monument was rebuilt.

After taking apart all the pieces, the monument was reassembled using thinset and mortar to put it back together. Fortunately, none of the concrete blocks were damaged in the accident…and magically, like an intricate puzzle, fit exactly back into place. Once completed, it looked as if nothing ever happened.

Below are photos from the day’s work.

First the heavy potted urn is removed using a bobcat tractor
The urn is removed from the base
Now work can begin to repair the damaged monument without the heavy urn.
The urn is placed on its base in the grass where the plants will be trimmed and tidied
Garden designer Libby Simon and helper Kristen Kennedy, trim the boxwood and clean up the potted urn

 

The blocks have to be cut apart so they can be put back together

 

The mortar is placed over the thinset, which serves as an adhesive, and the blocks are set in place
Each block is cleaned
There is no rebar holding the blocks, and the center is hollow, a common construction practice. The blocks are are keep in place by their sheer weight and the mortar.

 

Mortar is pipped in the joints between the blocks

 

Using a level, they check to make sure each course of block is level

 

The base is complete, ready for the top.
The fist of three sections of the capstone is placed.
Casting the stone in a mold enables the creation of the detailed edge on the capstone.

 

The old mortar is removed and new mortar is piped in the joints.
Complete! Now it’s time for the urn.

 

Spots of thinset will hold the urn in place but still allow drainage.
Wood block will allow the masons to place the plinth but remove their hands.
It takes three people to place the plinth on the monument
Once in place, a metal file is used to lower the plinth.
Ready for the urn.
The urn is bought back using the bobcat tractor

 

The urn is carefully lined up over the plinth. The pvc tube allows the soil in urn to drain.

 

Miguel Rodriquez, Roberto Rameriz and Antonio Curel reconstructed the monument.
Roberto Ramirez has been working as a stone mason for 30 years, starting when he was just 15.
Rameriz and Gunther Motz, architect for Fremont Place
Antonio and Miguel Rodriguez clean the cement dust off the grass.
The repaired monument, ready for the next 100 years.

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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