The Lodi Mission Arch, designed by architect E. B. Brown, was built in 1907, the year after Lodi became an incorporated city. The purpose of the Arch was to provide a formal, fancy entrance to the grounds of the Tokay Carnival, the first Lodi Grape Festival.
The 40-foot high Arch cost about $500 to build. It aged over the years and was reconstructed in 1956 after being declared a safety hazard. The threat of demolition inspired a group of Lodians to raise funds for the Arch's restoration, and the structure today rests on a foundation of reinforced concrete, although the original timbers are still intact behind the plaster.
The Arch looks much the same today as it did when first built. The most notable difference is a California Bear now rests atop the structure, facing north. Early records indicate the bear was placed on the Arch about 1910, but it faced south at that time. The bear, originally made of papier mache, was rebuilt in the 1940's and was coated with plaster. The bear was turned north to face our Capitol City of Sacramento after the 1956 remodeling job.
On September 10, 1981, a formal ceremony was held in which the National Register of Historic Places and the State Office of Historical Preservation dedicated the Arch as "California Registered Historical Landmark No. 931." The three-foot bronze plaque notes that "The Arch served as an entrance into Lodi and a symbol of agricultural and commercial growth." Essentially unaltered since construction, the structure is one of few remaining mission revival ceremonial arches left within California.
On June 14, 2001, the Lodi Arch Bear was rededicated after being restored and given a 23-karat, gold-leaf finish.