Filmmaker George Lucas Wednesday filed for a permit to demolish a building in downtown San Anselmo to make way for a small new park that will become the permanent home of two bronze statues of his popular characters Indiana Jones and Yoda.
Lucas previously started preparations to relocate a large, historical fresco that is located in the building that stands next to town hall. San Anselmo town officials, however, ordered the work halted until the demolition permit, which includes submittal of a historical analysis, is approved.
Lucas, who lives in San Anselmo, announced this summer that he is donating the land the building sits on to the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce, which hopes to raise $150,000 to $200,000 to create a park. Lucas said then that he would donate the statues and has since also agreed to pay for demolition of the building, which includes addresses 535, 539 and 541 San Anselmo Ave.
"The work just got a little out of order," said San Anselmo Town Manager Debra Stutsman. "We wanted them to submit their historical analysis and receive a demolition permit before they do any work."
Stutsman said the demolition application and historical analysis will be reviewed by the town's Planning Commission and Historical Commission.
Sarita Patel, Lucas's estate manager, said, "I think there was some confusion with the town. What we were doing was prepping the mural for its move."
The fresco was painted in 1945 by Jose Moya del Pino, founder of the Marin Art & Garden Center. Its subject matter is the history of pharmacology. The building in which the fresco resides was built the same year to house the Rossi Brothers Pharmacy.
Patel said Lucas is preserving the fresco and donating it to the Spanish consulate in San Francisco, in care of The Spain-USA Foundation.
Lucas hired Annie Rosenthal, a fine art conservator based in San Rafael, to evaluate the condition of the fresco and restore it as best as possible before its move. Rosenthal reported back to Lucas that while a majority of the fresco remains intact, about 5 percent to 10 percent of the design has been lost due to high humidity in the room in which it is located. Rosenthal reattached as much of the flaking paint as possible.
San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce President Connie Rodgers, who has been working closely with Lucas on the effort to create a park, said demolition of the building won't begin until after the first of the year.
"We are not going to do anything through the holiday season," Rodgers said. "We want to make sure there are no disturbances and the merchants get to utilize the maximum selling season."
Rodgers hopes to have the demolition completed in time to do new plantings for the park this spring, and she expects the park to open by summer.
"Definitely in time to be able to market the town to America's Cup visitors in August," Rodgers said.
The centerpiece of the new park will be a fountain that will incorporate the Yoda statue. A similar Yoda fountain is located at the entrance to the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco, where Lucas moved most of his operations in 2005.
Patel said, "The fountain is going to be very similar to the one in San Francisco
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