The 2001 City Council-approved Chamber renovation project was completed with an eye toward comfort and modern technology, while, at the same time, respecting the original art deco decor of Burbank City Hall. In addition to the Chamber renovation, the project included the restoration of two murals by Hugo Ballin: "The Four Freedoms" in the Chamber and "Burbank Industry" in the rotunda.
The Council Chamber
The Council Chamber is located in the west wing of the second floor of City Hall. Its teakwood-panelled walls and striking "Four Freedoms" mural provide the backdrop where the business of the City is conducted weekly. The Council Chamber has built-in rails and tables.
In a 1978 remodel, the Chamber’s original carved wooden pew seats were replaced by padded theater-style seating. The checkered tile floor was carpeted.
During the 2001 renovation, the lowered ceiling in the Chamber was removed. Returning the ceiling to its original height revealed the top of The Four Freedoms mural which had been covered for decades. Other work included: refinishing the teak paneling on the walls; installing new carpeting and new theatre-style seating; and installing new brass lights similar to the original fixtures.
‘Burbank Industry’ mural
The large, 8 feet by 24 feet, mural in the Rotunda -- Burbank Industry --is by the artist Hugo Ballin. The mural features Burbank-built airplanes, the motion picture industry, agriculture, a power plant, and scenes of Burbank family life, all representing the economic and social base of the community.
In 1964 the bottom third was removed to make way for a bridge to the then-new Municipal Services Building behind City Hall. It was kept in storage for 37 years.
The mural was restored in 2001 and the two sections were reattached by fine arts conservation experts.
‘The Four Freedoms’ mural
The 11 feet by 22 feet mural by Hugo Ballin was inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 "Four Freedoms" speech given at the signing of the Atlantic Charter. It is one of Ballin’s masterworks. The mural depicts scenes and figures symbolic of the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. Located on the Council Chamber wall directly behind the Council seats, the mural was in place when the City Hall building was dedicated February 12, 1943.
In a letter to Burbank city officials, Ballin noted "the mission of a mural is to enhance the architecture and to give a harmonious unity to the room in which it is placed. The painter must take into consideration a design which best fits the requirements. Scale, light and color are all equally important and a painter who knows mural painting gives these things paramount consideration."
About the Artist
Hugo Ballin (1879-1956) painted both of these City Hall murals : "Burbank Industry" and "The Four Freedoms." He is well-known for his many murals around the Los Angeles area, including those at the Griffith Observatory and the Times-Mirror Building. He was a skilled painter, writer, stage designer, muralist and motion picture director. Born in New York on March 7, 1879, he studied art in New York as well as in Paris, Rome and Florence. In 1913 he decorated the Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison.
In 1921, Ballin came to Los Angeles to work as a studio art director. He went on to direct and produce over 100 silent films. With the coming of talkies, he returned to mural painting and painted many murals for area buildings. In 1932 he designed the commemorative medallion for the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Hugo Ballin died in Santa Monica on November 27, 1956.
The Four Freedoms