The Santa Monica History Museum’s annual gala celebrates the city’s role in the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe

Crowds gather at Clover Field to witness the completion of the first ‘round-the-world flight in 1924 Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica History Museum

Crowds gather at Clover Field to witness the completion of the first ‘round-the-world flight in 1924
Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica History Museum

By Michael Aushenker

The year is 1924. A sizable crowd gathers on an air strip at Clover Field in Santa Monica (now the Santa Monica Airport), where Douglas Aircraft Company has created the planes completing the world’s first ‘round-the-world flight. A team of military aviators arrives to cheers, having completed the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe in 175 days, covering more than 27,500 miles. History has been made.

That event 90 years ago serves as the launching point for the Santa Monica History Museum’s fundraising annual Gala Tribute Dinner, happening Sunday at Hotel Casa del Mar.

“History will be kept alive as the audience is transported back to 1924 when the famous around-the-world flight was made,” said museum co-founder Louise Gabriel.

The gala also includes a roster of local Santa Monica dignitaries, including Mayor Pam O’Connor, City Manager Rod Gould, Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks and Fire Chief Scott Ferguson.

Last year, the museum held its silver anniversary gala fundraiser at Casa del Mar, celebrating and helping finance the museum’s first 25 years of preserving and providing local history from its space embedded within Santa Monica’s Main Public Library building.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the educational institution should reconvene at the iconic beachside Santa Monica hotel, as Casa del Mar itself has been an eyewitness of history since opening in 1926 as a beach club by the same name. Casa del Mar became a hotel and recreation service for the military during World War II and, eventually, a commercial hotel.

Originally an appendage of the local historical society known as Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, the History Museum opened its doors in 1988 in an industrial building on Colorado Avenue before relocating to 7th Street in October 2010.

Held last September, 2013’s spirited gala — with its 1930s casino theme echoing the infamous S.S. Rex offshore gambling ship — honored museum founders Louise and the late Bob Gabriel, museum architect Kris Andresen, and Mary Ann Powell, CEO of Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier.

This year’s event includes a memorial tribute to Mark Benjamin, a benefactor of the museum’s Research Library.

“The first day I saw Santa Monica, I knew I wanted to spend my life here,” Louise Gabriel said last year of the place where she met her husband. “This was like heaven. This was like God’s country.”

The Santa Monica History Museum Gala Tribute Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. at Hotel Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica. Tickets start at $150. Call (310) 395-2290 or visit santamonicahistory.org.

michael@argonautnews.com

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