Saving The Tiny Family Graveyard In Santa Monica Canyon

Midday Sunday

Saving The Tiny Family Graveyard In Santa Monica Canyon

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When 90-year-old Ernie Marquez realized that his family's private cemetery in Santa Monica was about to be completely lost to land developers, he decided to fight back.  The cemetery was established in 1839 when the Marquez family received a huge land grant from the Mexican government.  Their property stretched from what is now Topanga Canyon, westward to present-day Santa Monica.  Over the decades, pieces of the original rancho were sold off until nothing was left but the tiny family graveyard in Santa Monica Canyon. 

In 2011, when a developer was about to begin construction of a new home on the cemetery land, Marquez, his friends and his neighbors began the effort to save the cemetery.  They have succeeded at preserving some of the original cemetery but they've had to resign themselves to the likelihood that many unmarked graves were lost when homes were built above them.

Today's guests are Ernie Marquez and journalist Art Barron who produced the documentary "Saving a Sacred Rancho in the Canyon."  Mr. Barron's project won the Best Documentary award at the 2013 Santa Monica Film Festival.  It is available as a DVD at amazon.com.

Mr. Marquez continues his work, preserving the history of the Marquez family.  He can be contacted at MarquezCollection@gmail.com.

The cemetery is located at 637 San Lorenzo Street in Los Angeles. Click here to see the location on a Google Map.

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