Boy Scout Uses Ambitious Mural Project to Earn His Wings


The colorful sign in front of the lot in Manhattan Beach is a haunting memory of the vivid pottery that used to be manufactured at the location. There are greens, blues and reds that resemble the hues found in the pieces of Metlox pottery made for 62 years on what is now a barren piece of land.

Metlox Potteries closed in 1989 after filing for bankruptcy, and the parcel has been an eyesore since the buildings were torn down a few years later.

But 17-year-old David Milam decided that he would beautify the spot as the community service project he needed to become an Eagle Scout. Starting in November, he spent dozens of hours designing a 120-foot-long plywood mural that would hide much of the property from passersby.


On Saturday, he and nearly 40 residents spent the day painting the designs he had outlined in black pen. The scenes on one end depict community projects residents have worked on over the years, such as restoring Polliwog Park. The other end of the mural shows scenes of community events such as the Manhattan Beach Arts Festival, the 10K run and the annual Hometown Fair.

“I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” the Mira Costa High School senior said Wednesday as he stood next to the mural on Valley Drive. “When I designed it, I didn’t see any of it in color. I had to imagine what it was going to look like.”

While most of his fellow Scouts in Troop 849 worked on restoring a mountain hiking trail to gain their Eagle Scout credentials, Milam preferred to do something that would benefit the community.

It was Manhattan Beach cultural arts director Howard Spector who suggested that a mural would look good in front of the former Metlox Potteries property. The property is owned by the Santa Fe Railroad Co. and Charles Dunn Inc., which leased it to Metlox.

It has been vacant because the property owners had to remove the lead and other heavy metals in the soil that were byproducts of the pottery-making process. The materials were removed about a year ago and the property is for sale.