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Garfield.School.circa.1900

Garfield School in the late 1800s.

As Alhambra’s children get ready to go back to school in early August, here’s a brief history of Alhambra’s schools and a slideshow of a few historic photos of Alhambra’s elementary and high schools throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1880, the San Gabriel School District extended from the Los Angeles City boundary to Duarte, including the great ranches in between. It was considered at one time to be the wealthiest district in Los Angeles county. However, the early school houses consisted of redwood “shacks,” one of which was located under an oak tree on the ranch owned by J. A. Graves. A similar one was situated on Roses Road near the Bradbury Packing House, and another on Santa Anita Ranch, which later became the Baldwin Ranch. A fourth school house was an adobe building at the southeast corner of Las Tunas Drive and Mission Drive in San Gabriel.

San Gabriel District trustees decided in 1881 that they needed a new and better-equipped school house. A special tax was voted and a two-room building was erected at Vega and Main Street, on the west bank of the Arroyo. About 1884, the Alhambra Tract homeowners decided they wanted their own school house. After two bond elections failed, partly because of the strong opposition of the San Gabriel School District, Alhambrans petitioned for a division of the district and agreed to give San Gabriel the school at Vega and Main. Old Mill Creek became the dividing line on the east, with a detour that gave San Gabriel the school.

When the petition was granted, the new school was opened in an empty redwood shack near the corner of Chapel Avenue and Main Street. A hydrant across a plowed field supplied the school with drinking water. When the roof on the school caught fire one day, the children brought water in their lunch pails to extinguish the blaze. A few years later, a $10,000 bond measure was passed to build a school and a site at the corner of Garfield Avenue and Alhambra Road was purchased from John Conner for $175. A four-room, two-story frame school house was constructed.

In September 1887, the school opened with 27 elementary and high school students. Mrs. Edward Jones was the principal. Because of the increasing enrollment, Marengo School was built in 1905 and the cornerstone for Alhambra High School was laid in April of that same year.

Alhambra would go on to construct four high schools: Alhambra High School (rebuilt several times at the same location, south of Main Street and between Second and Third Streets); Mark Keppel High built in 1939 on Hellman Avenue; San Gabriel High, constructed in 1955; and Century High School, located south of the former Marengo Elementary School. Today, there are 13 elementary schools in Alhambra Unified School District – nine in Alhambra and four in the City of Monterey Park.

Ramona Convent – an all-girls boarding school – was opened on January 30, 1890.  The Convent was built on land donated by James de Barth Shorb, Don Benito Wilson’s son-in-law and an early prominent resident. Shorb’s daughter, Edith, disliked going to Northern California to boarding school. It is said that she convinced her father to donate the land for Ramona Convent so that she could attend school in Southern California.

Portions reprinted from the City of Alhambra’s history webpage.

 

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coffee.cup.2Join Alhambra Preservation Group for an evening of coffee, cookies and questions with Alhambra’s two newly elected City Council Members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

901 North Bushnell Avenue, Alhambra, CA  91801

This is an opportunity for Alhambrans to get to know their two newest City Council Members and ask questions about Alhambra’s future and any community concerns. Additionally, the City of Alhambra will have just released its updated General Plan, and we will provide an update on the next steps related to this important development in our city.

This event is free and the general public is welcome to attend. Light dessert refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to info@alhambrapreservation.org by June 25, 2017. We look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrating.10.years.graphic

The City of Alhambra will present Alhambra Preservation Group with a congratulatory certificate marking APG’s 10th anniversary at its evening City Council meeting on Monday, May 22, 2017. You are invited to attend and help us celebrate Alhambra Preservation Group’s 10th anniversary.

Alhambra Preservation Group will host a dessert reception in the lobby of Alhambra City Hall before the presentation in City Council Chambers.

Alhambra Preservation Group Celebrates 10 Years

Monday, May 22, 2017

Celebratory Reception: 6:00 p.m.

City Council Presentation: 7:00 p.m.

Alhambra City Hall, 111 South 1st Street

Please join us as we celebrate Alhambra Preservation Group’s 10-Year anniversary. Please RSVP to info@alhambrapreservation.org or (626) 755-3467.

 

APG.Beginning.PSN.2003

Oscar Amaro and the late Katherine Hildreth founded APG in 2003.

Fourteen years ago this month, a small group of residents met at the Alhambra Historical Society’s Museum to talk about forming a new group. Led by Oscar Amaro and the late Kathy Hildreth, these Alhambrans expressed anger at seeing older homes razed and agreed that it was time to start fighting for the preservation and protection of Alhambra’s historic homes and quaint neighborhoods. And so began the story of Alhambra Preservation Group, or APG. Over time, APG grew from a small group of concerned residents into the successful non-profit organization it is today.

As Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates the 10th anniversary of becoming a non-profit organization, join us for a two-part series back to the not-so-recent past. We’ll celebrate APG’s achievements and milestones. We’ll share APG’s advocacy efforts and awareness-building programs. And, we’ll introduce you to the tight-knit group of members who make up the APG community today and continue to move our city towards the day when Alhambra’s historically and architecturally homes, schools, businesses and churches are recognized, preserved and protected.

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CA.Pres.Found.Conf.Joyce&BarbaraBy Joyce Amaro

Spring has sprung! We’ve all been enjoying the “superbloom”, gentle showers and warmer weather that spring always brings. Here at APG, we’ve also been springing into action to move Alhambra closer to the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance. Here’s a summary of just a few of the activities we’ve been busy with since the beginning of the new year.

At the end of February, I attended a Mills Act Workshop hosted by Pasadena Heritage. This was a good opportunity to learn more about the Mills Act and how owners of historic homes may one day be able to benefit from it here in Alhambra. You can learn more about the Mills Act here.

As many of you are aware, the City of Alhambra heard an appeal of the Lowe’s Development on Fremont on February 27. APG Board Members were in attendance and several spoke at the City Council meeting. The latest information on the Lowe’s Development project can be found here.

In March, I met with City of Alhambra City Manager Mark Yokoyama and Development Services Director Tonya Pace to discuss the status of the adoption of a preservation ordinance in Alhambra and next steps.  Both stated that the adoption of a preservation ordinance as well as the adoption of a Mills Act Program in Alhambra would be addressed in the upcoming release of the City’s General Plan. As you may remember, APG members participated in the 2015 General Plan Survey as well as the community meetings, providing vital input to the City of Alhambra on the need for a historic preservation ordinance. After this meeting with the City of Alhambra, I am more hopeful than ever that APG’s hard work is about to pay off and that we will see goals related to both of a preservation ordinance and the Mills Act included in Alhambra’s draft General Plan. We are still awaiting the release of the draft General Plan. We will let all of you know as soon as we hear more from the City of Alhambra.

Recently, I was asked to serve on Alhambra’s Source’s Community Advisory Board.  I am honored to serve on this advisory board as this vital community resource takes steps towards becoming a non-profit organization.  In mid-April, I met with the Alhambra Source’s editor Phoenix Tso to discuss an article the Alhambra Source plans on writing about Alhambra’s need for a preservation ordinance. I’ll be sure to send it your way once it’s written.

On May 12, Barbara Beckley and I were honored to present “Putting Alhambra on the Map” at the California Preservation Foundation’s annual conference “Preservation at the Forefront” in Pasadena. You may remember the Google map APG created last spring, which maps out Alhambra’s historic homes, businesses, churches and schools. Barbara and I presented information on how the map was created as well as APG’s current and future plans for the map. Have you checked out APG’s Alhambra Historic Resources map lately? We’re in the process of adding photos of historic homes to the map. If you know of a home you would like to include, please send it my way at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Lastly, be sure and put June 29 on your calendar! APG will be hosting an early summer evening event “Coffee with a Council Member” on Thursday, June 29, 2017. More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but you don’t want to miss this opportunity to meet Alhambra’s two new council members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia. This is your chance to spend some time with them and ask them about issues facing your neighborhood and our city.

F.Q.Story.houseEarlier this year, Jane Fernandez, a resident of Alhambra and student from Cal Poly Pomona, contacted Alhambra Preservation Group for assistance with a class project. She and a group of classmates needed to find a historic home for a Cultural Resource Management class. APG helped them find the Francis Q. Story home, located on North Story Place. After completing their project, we chatted with Jane and her classmate, Jennifer Hernandez, about their experience and what this project taught them about Alhambra and preservation.

APG: What was the project and purpose of the project?

Jane and Jennifer: The class was Cultural Resource Management, an introductory course to laws and the practice of CRM. The purpose of this project was to give us a hands-on approach of what it is like to do work within cultural resource management. The project was meant to encourage us as students to take an active role and apply our learning to the real world versus keeping the work within a classroom setting.

APG: Did you encounter any challenges completing this project?

Jane and Jennifer: We had planned doing our project on the Victorian house on Garfield after having read about it in the Alhambra Source. After spending several weeks gathering information, we had no luck with contacting the owner and getting permission to enter the house. We then decided to visit the Historical Society and talked to APG in hopes of finding another home in the area.

Having found the Story home, the owners were very helpful in giving us information so much that we had three criteria to work with. A challenge we encountered from not having full records of the home was the fact that we did not know when the architectural change from a Victorian home to a more Federalist-styled home took place. Another challenge we encountered was the word of mouth story about a Japanese family being housed in the attic after World War 2. We weren’t able to confirm that story.

APG: What did you learn doing this project? Did anything surprise you about this house/project?

Jane: I learned that preservation can be very rewarding in so many ways. It saves history, a place’s purpose and just the overall ambience of a city/community. I was surprised at how much work needs to go into nominating a place to be recognized as historically or culturally significant. I was also surprised at how many places we drive by on a daily basis that have grand stories behind them. I learned that in Alhambra, there are many.

APG: Do you have future plans involving historic preservation?

Jane: I, myself do. At this point the next preservation project I do might be for work since I am graduating, unless other projects come along. For the rest of the group I know that they have previously done some of this work before and might continue to do so. Doing this project on ‘The Story House’ was such a great experience as a resident of Alhambra because I didn’t just appreciate the home for having historical significance. It also brought to life the people and culture from our past.

APG: Any last thoughts?

Jane and Jennifer: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed working on this project within the Alhambra community. It gave us a new perspective on historical preservation and the beauty and history that an old building can hold in the community.

 

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Here is a listing of the tasks that APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee has been working on over the last few months:

 

Lowes Development on Fremont Avenue

On January 17, together with other local community groups, several APG board members attended the Planning Commission’s hearing on Alhambra Court Commercial development project on Fremont Avenue, which includes the building of a Lowes, two six-story office buildings for 2,600 employees, and a one six-story parking garage that includes 1,400 parking spots. Alhambra’s council chambers were full and the public provided public testimony for more than two hours, sharing their concerns about the lack of thorough analysis and the presence of inadequate reporting in the City’s Mitigated Negative Impact Report. The City of Alhambra estimates that customers will generate 4,000 – 8,000+ car trips to Lowes daily; however, that estimate is based on a rural Lowes in Poway, CA.

Alhambra’s Planning Commission voted 6-2 to approve the project on the condition that the project divert cars away from the Emery Park neighborhood on to Fremont Avenue and Mission Road, by blocking off the planned entrances on Meridian Avenue. Neither the effects of that decision nor the impact of the total estimated number of cars on Fremont Avenue were discussed before the Planning Commission voted. An appeal of the decision was filed by Alhambra residents, and the project will now go to Alhambra’s City Council for a decision. You can learn more about the project here.

CEQA Training

On January 23, APG board members and community group leaders attended a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) workshop hosted by Dr. Tom Williams, Senior Technical Advisor for Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and advisor to El Sereno Historical Society. At this evening workshop, Dr. Williams explained the state law, the required CEQA process that the City of Alhambra must follow as the “Lead Agency” in developments and the actions residents and non-governmental organizations can take to require a full Environmental Impact Report for development projects.

Meeting with Alhambra Officials

In December Alhambra Preservation Group President Joyce Amaro met with the newly elected Alhambra City Councilmember, Jeff Maloney. They discussed both short term and long-term preservation goals including the need to update the 1984 Historic Resources Survey and the inclusion of a Preservation Element in the upcoming updated Alhambra General Plan as two significant first steps towards that goal.

City of Alhambra General Plan

We are still awaiting the release of the City of Alhambra General Plan. You can keep up with the City’s progress here.

403 South Garfield Avenue

The “For Sale” sign is no longer in front of the Victorian home located at 403 South Garfield Avenue, and it seems that the current owners are working inside. We’ll continue monitoring this home.

1237 East Main Street

Sadly, the Mid-Century Modern medical building located at 1237 East Main Street was demolished in late January. The razing of this building is the perfect argument for why a comprehensive citywide survey needs to be completed. This building was identified in the 1984 Alhambra Historic Resources Survey as a site that should be evaluated for historic significance in a future survey; however, the City of Alhambra never conducted a second historic resources survey. If a subsequent survey had been completed, this building may have been identified as historically significant and could have been saved.

Alhambra Preservation Group is a 100% volunteer-driven organization, and we rely on each other to advance APG’s mission in Alhambra. We need everyone to advocate for the preservation of Alhambra’s historic homes, schools, churches and businesses.

The next meeting of the APG Advocacy and Action Committee will take place on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in learning more about APG and its Advocacy and Action Committee, please contact info@alhambrapreservation.org or call (626) 755-3467.

The Advocacy and Action Committee has a new webpage on the APG website. Check it out!