First Avenue School
(Click image for enhanced view.)
Location: Corner of First Avenue and California Street (address below).
Dedicated in 2007.
Sign text: In 1907, this yellow clapboard schoolhouse (top photo of sign) was built on the southwest corner of First Avenue and California Street named the Arcadia Grammar School. It replaced the temporary buildings, a packing shed and a vacant remodeled saloon, which were used since Arcadia’s incorporation in 1903. This new school had two classrooms and a library to accommodate the 65 students and two teachers. Grades one through four were taught in one classroom, while grades five through eight were taught in the other. The library was located in the front of the building and the classrooms in the rear. Another school was constructed in 1913 on Santa Anita Avenue close to where Wistaria Avenue ended. It was a two-room schoolhouse that was used until the 1933 earthquake rendered it unsafe.
As Arcadia grew and the school population increased, a new structure (second photo) was constructed on the same site in 1919. It was built to serve 209 students and was considered to be ” … one of the finest examples of school architecture in the state.” The building had eight classrooms, a library, an assembly hall and a swimming pool. All of the lots extending to Santa Anita Avenue were acquired to provide for growing enrollment. Expansion of the facility occurred in 1921 and again in 1939. The Long Beach earthquake of 1933 seriously damaged the building now named FIRST AVENUE SCHOOL. Only the fact that the earthquake occurred after six o’clock in the evening avoided the loss of many lives. Major reinforcement of the structure was needed and at the same time, it was given a new and more modern exterior.
Over the years, additions and alterations have been made to the facility. Major reconstruction took place following a disastrous fire in May of 1979. At this time, citizens dismissed the suggestion that the school be demolished. Instead, they rallied for its restoration and rebuilding, (third photo) and the approval of funds to complete the project.
Arcadia City School Bus. c. 1923. This photograph (bottom) shows a bus transporting kindergarten children to school. Bus transportation became necessary because of the great distances children had to travel to both Arcadia Grammar and Santa Anita Schools.
301 S. First Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91006
All photographs courtesy of Arcadia Public Library, Arcadia, Calif.