Catalina Island News

The Catalina Island Museum Explores William Wrigley, Jr.ís Dream for Catalina Island

2012-08-24
Catalina Island Museum

Synonymous with chewing gum and the Chicago Cubs, William Wrigley, Jr. was one of the world’s greatest businessmen. A Democratic Dream: William Wrigley, Jr. and Catalina Island will tell the amazing story of how his business empire changed the course of American history and his quest to make Catalina Island “the people’s island.”

This exhibition will feature an array of photographs and documents from the Catalina Island Museum’s own extensive archive. To create a more complex portrait of William Wrigley, Jr., the museum has also assembled archival material from the Chicago History Museum, the William Wrigley, Jr. Company, the History Factory and other private collections across the nation.

“The information in these archives has given us prodigious insight into the generosity and compassion of one of the wealthiest men of the 20th century. This exhibition shows William Wrigley, Jr. in stark contrast to the robber barons of his era,” said Catalina Island Museum Curator John Boraggina. “With today’s economic landscape and the struggles of the middle class, it is inspiring to see how one man was able to transform Catalina into what he described as ‘the playground for all, rich or poor, youth or aged.’”

A middle school dropout who became a titan of the industrial age, Wrigley possessed a democratic spirit that guided him throughout all of his personal and business endeavors. In the end, his true passion and perhaps his most lasting legacy was Catalina Island.

Wrigley’s purchase of Catalina Island offered him a nearly blank canvas to express his deeply held ideal of excellence. 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. In little over a decade, Wrigley had transformed Catalina Island into one of the world’s preeminent vacation destinations.

Three years after purchasing the island, 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.”

A Democratic Dream commemorates the 80th anniversary of William Wrigley, Jr.’s death. This exhibition will run from August 31 through November 26, 2012 and can only be viewed at the Catalina Island Museum.

Opening Reception for A Democratic Dream

The Catalina Island Museum invites you to the opening reception for A Democratic Dream: William Wrigley, Jr. and Catalina Island on Friday, August 31st from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Tickets are free for members of the museum and $10.00 for the general public.

For more information or to purchase tickets, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website.