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Event Celebrates 'The Godmother of Santa Monica'

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By Lookout Staff

March 30, 2023 -- Overshadowed in her lifetime by her two husbands, Arcadia Bandini arguably became more famous than both and put her permanent stamp on Santa Monica.
Arcadia Bandini

On Sunday, April 30 from 5 to 6 p.m., Bandini will be the subject of the the Santa Monica Conservancy’s first Mosaic livestream of 2023, produced in partnership with the Santa Monica History Museum.

The virtual Zoom program will offer "an intimate portrait of a woman whose name would have been known to everyone in Southern California during her lifetime," event organizeers said.

Ricardo Bandini Johnson will offer a personal view of his great-great-aunt's life and legacy, while local historian and Conservancy Board member Nina Fresco "will give an overview of Bandini’s history and importance to the region."

Both presentations will be illustrated by an array of exclusive photos from the History Museum and Bandini Foundation.

Bandini was born in 1827 into a prominent California family and "lived to see her Ranchero-era Alta California transition to American statehood and begin its transformation into the nation’s most populous state," Conservancy officials said.

"In the history books, Bandini has been overshadowed by her husbands, Abel Sterns and Robert Baker. But she was a powerful force in her own right and one of the richest people in the country when she passed away in her house on Ocean Avenue in 1912."

Bandini is known as "the godmother of Santa Monica" and a "great benefactress" for her philanthropy and the aesthetic vision that shaped the beachside city.

Later in life, she donated much of her land, including what would become Palisades Park and the Veteran's Administration grounds in Westwood.

She left no children or will prompting a series of bitter and protracted legal battle for her estate.

One that still lingers is a potential challenge over a City-run parking lot next door to the exclusive Jonathan Club she donated for disabled veterans ("Council Votes to Fund Title Search for 1888 Deed to Veterans," July 7, 2022).

"Much of what makes Santa Monica desirable today is due to her generosity, and foresight," Conservancy officials said.

The livestream event is free for members and $10 for the general public. Those who donate $45 or more will receive a one-year membership and discounts to this and future programs.

To register for he livestream event click here.

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