J. (Joseph) Earl Trudeau, known by his close friends as “Jack,” was the architect of St. Therese Church—and one of California’s greatest architects. He was born in California on November 24, 1908, to Joseph Trudeau and Obdalia Delaney Trudeau. At the time he began his career, he was married to Leona E. Trudeau, who preceded him in death at age 41 on January 11, 1950, and had her funeral celebrated at St. Therese.
Mr. Trudeau was a member of the American Institute of Architects from 1945 through 1971, having begun his career around 1930 working with the Los Angeles firm of Weston & Weston. As a result of his excellent work, Mr. Trudeau was advised by his superiors to further his experience and education in New York.
Venturing to New York City at the beginning of the depression, he was able to work with leading architectural firms—gaining experience on projects such as the American Embassy in Paris, among others. He also successfully competed in the Beaux Art Institute, winning the top awards. Awarded the Harvard Scholarship in 1931 and a Bronze Medal of the Society de Ecole Beauz Arts in 1932, his drawings in another National competition won him a Fellowship to Princeton Graduate School of Architecture.
As part of his education at Princeton, Mr. Trudeau traveled throughout Europe to study, paying particular attention to materials and methods of construction of both modern and traditional architecture. Returning to California in 1933, he executed the design and portions of the drawings and specifications on a number of projects in Southern California, including fifteen churches (among these are St. Charles Borromeo in North Hollywood, Blessed Sacrament in Holywood, St. Augustine in Culver City, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Downey). During World War II, while there was a restriction on building projects, he worked for the Los Angeles Office of the War Department as a Chief Engineer Architect. He was also engaged in the war effort with Fluor Corporation and in the motion picture studios prior to reopening his architectural offices in Alhambra in October 1944. Mr. Trudeau worked out of his home at the corner of First and Bay State Streets in Alhambra, He was also an active parishioner of St. Therese, as well as a member of the Alhambra Lions Club, the Elks Lodge, and the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce.
On February 7, 1953, he married his second wife, French Canadian Jacqueline Ethier, at St. Therese, and then they lived at the house Mr. Trudeau had lived in since the 1940’s (126 Champion Place in Alhambra). When Mr. Trudeau retired, the couple sold the house and moved to their beach house in Newport Beach.
In his leisure time, Mr. Trudeau enjoyed painting landscapes and architecture. He was a spectacular artist, creating graceful compositions with deft brushwork and a vibrant color palette. Most of his paintings were given to charities to auction off at their fundraisers, and so are rarely seen in public
Mr. Trudeau died in Newport Beach on June 4, 1990, and, according to his desire, had his funeral here at St. Therese Church, which was celebrated by Fr. Gerald Winters, O.C.D. He left behind his wife and six children—and an architectural legacy
NOTES ABOUT THE PAINTING SHOWN AT TOP RIGHT:
This painting was made by J. Earl Trudeau and was originally purchased at a charity sale (click on the image to enlarge it). It was resold on E-Bay (out of San Francisco) on December 2, 2013, for $203.02. The following was the commentary and description written by the seller:
“…There is a good chance that you may never see another oil painting by J. Earl Trudeau. Why? For those of you who are just learning about California history and architecture, J. Earl Trudeau (born Joseph Earl Trudeau) is one of California's greatest architects in the state's history. St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church (North Hollywood, CA.), Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, (Hollywood, CA), St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church (Culver City, CA), Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Downey, CA), St. Therese Church (Alhambra, CA) and Loyola High School Library (Los Angeles, CA) are only a few marvels of modern architecture that Trudeau designed. As you can see, J. Earl Trudeau was also a spectacular artist. Deft brushwork, a vibrant color palette, and a graceful composition can be seen in this painting. The end result is a painting that shows Trudeau's love for both architecture and the surrounding landscape! Trudeau's paintings are very rare! Being one of America's most famous architects, Trudeau didn't have to sell his paintings. I believe most of the rest of his other paintings were a part of commissioned projects, where they will most likely never see the light of day again. Additionally, after reviewing 25 years of auction records, I have not found any of his paintings being offered for public sale."
ITEM DESCRIPTION: This oil on canvas measures 21-5/8" by 25-5/8", with its frame. The actual painting measures 20" by 24". The painting is signed by Trudeau—on the lower right. The painting is in very good, overall condition. The frame has a few nicks and scratches, but is presentable. When examining the painting under an ultraviolet light, I did find evidence of *inpainting, which accounts for about 5% of the painting's total surface area. The signature is original to the painting and it did not fluoresce under an ultraviolet light.
*Inpainting is the process of reconstructing lost or deteriorated parts of images and videos. For instance, in the museum world, in the case of a valuable painting, this task would be carried out by a skilled art conservator or art restorer.