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John "Don Juan" Forster, Don Juan Avila, and Don Jose Serrano

John “Don Juan” Forster, Don Juan Avila, and Don Jose Serrano

T. J. Dixon and James Nelson

The 6 life-sized terra cotta busts in the lobby are sculpted in adobe clay and are life-sized busts of early Saddleback Valley landowners. Laguna Hills is built on one of the major land grants developed during the Rancho Era. Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, those who had served in the government or who had friends in authority, were given vast lands for cattle grazing. Three of these landowners were Don Juan Avila, John (Juan) Forster, and Jose Serrano. The 3 men owned Rancho Mission Viejo, Rancho Los Deschos, Canada de los Alisos, and Rancho Niguel, which covered much of the western portion of the Saddleback Valley. Busts of these 3 initial landowners now sit in the alcove to the left of the Civic Center lobby.

In 1862, a drought devasted the valley and the 3 inital landowners lost their properties to the bank, where they were purchased by Lewis Moulton, Richard O’Niell, and Dwight Whiting. These owners used the ranches to raise sheep and cattle. They also grew olive trees, grape vineyards, eucalyptus, and crops such as alfalfa. In the Civic Center lobby, life-size busts of these men sit on the right.

While growing up in the Southwest, T.J. Dixon enjoyed color and loved to paint but frequently found this artistic medium frustrating. At the age of 26, while studying at an art college in Northern England, she picked up clay for the 1st time. “It seemed to come alive i

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Location: Laguna Hills

Medium type: Terracotta


24035 El Toro Road, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653

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