The City of San Marino presented a proclamation honoring former San Marino City Council Member and Mayor Don Cotton as the Old Mill Foundation’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for 2016 at the the group’s board of trustees meeting on Mon., Oct. 24.
During the 200th year of the Old Mill, Cotton managed many of the projects relating to the restoration of El Molino Viejo, the oldest commercial structure in Southern California. Representing the Old Mill Foundation, Cotton oversaw the restoration and renovation of the Old Mill by obtaining cost estimates and quotes while advocating for much-needed maintenance and improvements. In advance of those projects, Cotton literally went through all of the closets in The Mill, cleaning, cataloging and finding homes for all of the memorabilia that had been stored for other organizations.
Some of the tasks Cotton was instrumental in accomplishing include the removal of a dirt path that linked the driveway and Pomegranate Patio ramp, removing panels in the Granary Gallery and replacing them with moveable panels and and organizing much of The Mill’s historical legacy.
“Don is a very hands-on person,” said Cathy Brown, the Old Mill’s executive director. “He has a great attention to detail and doesn’t ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. He is also very thorough. Most of the things that got done this year would not have happened without Don.”
During the restoration, Cotton interfaced with both the City of San Marino and the office of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, which was instrumental in helping fund the project.
Cotton also helped revise a history brochure distributed at The Mill.
“Don is not just a supervisor,” said Brown. “He will roll up his sleeves and do the work.”
Fin Cotton, Don’s wife, is also involved at The Mill and played the role of Arabella Huntington at The Mill’s 200th birthday celebration.
Cotton served on the San Marino City Council from 1991–2000. When asked about his involvement with The Mill he said “I love the place.”
“I was on the city council when the Old Mill Foundation was set up,” he recalled. “I didn’t immediately join, but did so shortly thereafter. Recently, I decided we had not been doing as much as we might, so when the Foundation received the money from Los Angeles County, I thought I would help out.”