A replica of the historic gondolas that cruised the canals in the early days of Venice of America has made its way to the former site of the Grand Lagoon.

Following the Venice community’s founding by Abbot Kinney in 1905, the Grand Lagoon was a haven for gondolas that traveled the canals.

Eighty years after the last canals of Venice’s Grand Lagoon were drained and filled in to make way for automobiles, the Venice Historical Society has returned a replica of those original gondolas to the site now known as the Windward Circle.

On July 1, the historical society installed the replica of a gondola built from the original plans of town decorator, Arthur L. Reese, at the Windward Circle. Reese, who designed the original gondolas that cruised the canals in the early 1900s, was contacted in the early 1960s by Home Savings Bank on Lincoln Boulevard and California Avenue (now the site of Chase Bank), which was looking for the original gondola plans to build a replica to display in front of the bank, according to the historical society.

The bank’s gondola was originally built with an oar, had a wood stain finish and was open, but over the years, the oar disappeared and the gondola was closed to protect its integrity. Since its commissioning, the gondola has seen many different banks occupy the property but the gondola had always remained in the same location.

However, according to the historical society, the latest tenant, Chase Bank, chose to donate the replica piece to the organization. A group of volunteers, made up of lifelong Venice locals, helped transport the replica to Windward Circle, the site where gondolas cruised at one time.

The gondola is considered fragile and will have a sign announcing that no person shall sit or climb on it, according to the historical society. A security camera will eventually be installed to protect the gondola from vandals.

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