The Urn Project


When Thousand Oaks was subdivided in 1909, the developers placed monumental urns, in the style of Maxfield Parrish, around the new residential tract. Civic art, like the stone pillars of Northbrae and Cragmont, the fountain at Marin Circle, and the gates of the Claremont and Claremont Court, was popular at that time and gave each new area an identity.

Originally 20 or more urns graced Thousand Oaks, but only one of the original urns, at Indian Trail and The Alameda, remains.

In 2003, Thousand Oaks neighbors began donating to a fund to restore the existing urn and recreate new ones. The Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association took up the project, inviting more neighbors to participate and keeping residents up to date on the project through the TONA Newsletter. The grassroots effort has raised over $20,000, much of it from neighborhood residents.

The project coordinators were Elizabeth Sklut, longtime TONA Board member and past President, and Trish Hawthorne, a local historian. In 2009 a $7,600 grant from the UC Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund supplemented neighborhood donations and included the advisory services of UC Landscape Architect Jim Horner.

With sufficient funds to move into the production phase, a mold was made from the existing urn, and the missing lip was recreated by artist Sarita Waite, who sculpted the bears at the Marin Circle Fountain. Jim Horner assisted in the selection of a fabricator with extensive historic preservation experience, and two new urns were cast.

Jim Horner and Gray Brechin, a historical geographer affiliated with the UC, advised on the selection of the sites for the new urns. In 2010, two historic parks from the original subdivision were chosen: Great Stone Face Park at San Fernando Avenue and Yosemite Road, and a small triangle park at the intersection of The Alameda and Yosemite Road. The city granted permits to install the urns, and approval from Public Works and Traffic Engineering were obtained. City Council Member Laurie Capitelli provided support throughout the process.

In August 2011, the new urns were installed. Local architect and TONA Board member Alesia Connelly, as well as contractors Michael McCutcheon and Jim Duval, donated their services, assisting with site plans and installation.

In September 2011, a community dedication ceremony was held at Great Stone Face Park to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the project.

Donations are still needed to complete the urn project. Checks can be made out to "Partners for Parks" (the Urn Project's non-profit partner) and mailed to TONA at P.O. Box 7572, Berkeley, CA 94707.