Catalina Island News

Museum's History Gallery Shares Wrigley's Dream for Catalina Island

Catalina Island Museum

To truly understand Catalina Island, you must first learn about William Wrigley Jr. and his democratic dream for this small island in the Pacific. The new Catalina Island Museum has permanently dedicated its largest gallery to sharing the island’s rich history. Exhibitions about William Wrigley Jr., his son Philip K. Wrigley, and their endeavors reveal how the island became the tourist destination it is today.

William Wrigley Jr. embodied the American Dream. Growing up with very little, he went on to become one of the world’s greatest businessmen. His name is synonymous with chewing gum and the Chicago Cubs, but the legacy of his success remains visibly evident on Catalina Island.

Wrigley purchased controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919. Displaying the democratic spirit that guided him throughout his life, Wrigley developed Catalina Island into a world-class resort destination for all to enjoy. Between 1919 and 1932, Avalon became home to California’s largest diesel generator, the world’s largest cafeteria, the most diverse aviary in the world, the tallest structure in Los Angeles County, largest ballroom dance floor and the first theater built for talking motion pictures.

Three years after purchasing the Santa Catalina Island Company, Wrigley articulated his dream for Catalina Island when he proclaimed, “I want to make this little spot an attractive, healthy and enjoyable spot for the thousands of wage-earners who get little chance to rest and enjoy themselves as they would like. I want to get the thing so adjusted that the island is self-supporting, but run without a nickel of profit. Right now it is far from a healthy investment financially, but I am tickled to spend more money to make it the vacation spot for the tired shop girl, the artisan, the clerk or the Boy Scout.”

Avalon’s landmark Casino building, the colorful tiles that line the pathways, planters and fountains, the Catalina Country Club, the chimes tower, Mt. Ada and many other structures are the result of Mr. Wrigley’s passion and sense of responsibility for the island and its people. After his death in 1932, his son, Philip K. Wrigley carried on his legacy. The Wrigley family continues to be involved with the major entities on the island today.

Visit the Catalina Island Museum’s William Wrigley Jr. Gallery to learn more about the Wrigley family, Chicago Cubs spring training, the “Great White Steamers,” Native islanders, Catalina pottery, the island’s role in World War II, Hollywood celebrities and much more!

The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: