Watson Honors The City Of Chino’s Dairy Heritage

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Watson Honors The City Of Chino’s Dairy Heritage

At Chino’s State of the City luncheon this year, the Chino Planning Commission presented the Reva Salter Award for practical and creative achievement to Watson for their art installation on Merrill Avenue, commemorating Chino’s dairy heritage.  

The city of Chino has witnessed a major transformation over the last twenty years from a predominantly agricultural region to the industrial heart of the Inland Empire. Chino dairymen established a reputation for themselves in the early years of the 1900s. By 1926, Chino dairymen were already receiving high honors in the county, state, and nation for production. 

This drew more dairymen into the Chino Valley, where dairying was becoming a clean, efficient and professional industry. Growth continued through the 1930s and the Great Depression, and in the post-war period, Chino was ready to assume a role as an agricultural leader.

In the 1950s, dairies moved into Chino from Artesia, Cerritos, and Paramount. By the middle of the decade, Chino’s annual gross agricultural revenue amounted to 26 million dollars and milk was now the city’s largest agricultural commodity.

Milk profit in the city surpassed 100 million dollars by the mid 1970s. For this era of Chino’s history, it truly was a booming agricultural hub. At the industry’s peak, Chino boasted 400 dairies and 400,000 cows. It was hailed as the most concentrated area for dairies in the world. The city remained an active dairy farm community well into the 1980s. 

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, rising population and land values began to change the city’s dynamics. This once small suburb of Los Angeles had metamorphosed into a city of urban residents with one of the most thriving economies in the region. 

Labrador Retriever

Understanding the magnitude of the development in Chino, Watson Land Company wanted to honor the legacy of the region’s rich dairy history at Watson Industrial Park Chino with the installation of four bronze cows, one calf and one Labrador Retriever sculptures. 

Working hand-in-hand with architect Larry Ryan at RJM Landscaping Inc., we connected right away on agricultural imagery consistent with the dairy industry. This included landscaping that drew on the site’s native environment to transform the center into a model of sustainable design in an urban context. 

A regionally-appropriate plant palette comprised of local plants was selected and located according to water needs, reflecting the surrounding ecology. California native and drought tolerant Oak and Sycamore trees were handpicked, as well as fruitless olive trees. Landscape geometries derived from local granite quarries and Corten steel resulted in topographic features that create a bold, natural identity for the space. 

Custom-made by Randolph Rose Company in New York, the four dairy cows, one calf and one dog were created using the lost-wax bronze process. Cast using this ancient method, the sculptures display brilliant patina finishes that were hand-applied with highlights that create natural variations in texture and color. The cows, calf and dog statues were then polished by hand to bring out the remarkable detail. The sculptures were also created at 120% scale, to allow for better visibility for passing motorists. These works of art are long-lasting as a testimony to the area’s agricultural roots. 

Watson strives to fund, plan for, and develop commercial areas that are effective and functional, but also mindful and honoring. And since the dairy community has been so integral to Chino for almost a century, we wanted to create a space that commemorated the heritage with something special. Additionally, because the bronze sculptures play an important role in the public site’s dedication to Chino’s story, they contribute to a greater sense of community, even through times of transition. 

We’re honored to be a part of the city of Chino. And we hope this art installation gives tribute to the cities roots in a celebratory way while we look forward to the achievements Chino will make in the years to come. To learn more about Watson Land Company’s Industrial Park Chino, click here.