Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Well, I stumped everybody this week. In the 1934 photo above, demolition of the Horace Mann building at Pasadena High School is in full swing where Pasadena City College stands today.

There were orange groves and the old Grant School at the 18-acre site when construction of the PHS campus began, and the campus began to take shape the following year with three primary structures including the Horace Mann building.

Here's the Horace Mann building under construction:

And the completed structure:

This closeup shows the spectacular architectural elements:

And this aerial shot illustrates the huge scale of the building:

A population boom in Pasadena after World War I -- 45,000 grew to 76,000 -- created the need for major expansion of the school system. After the passage of a bond issue in 1924 for this purpose, the school board established Pasadena Junior College on the Pasadena High School campus.

The Field Act, passed by the California legislature after a series of earthquakes in the early 1930s, stated that governing bodies of school districts could be held criminally liable if students were injured in subsequent temblors. The report from a structural survey in July 1933 recommended that the Horace Mann building be stripped down to its steel frame.

After the demolition was completed, 50 temporary tents were set up to house classrooms.

There's much more detailed information here.

Many thanks to Pasadena City College and Pasadena Public Library.


Bellis said...

You stumped us for sure! I've never seen anything anywhere about a predecessor to the current PCC building. What a shame to destroy such lovely architectural features rather than reuse them. And with the violence of that wrecking ball, I'm surprised the steel frame wasn't buckled.

Petrea Burchard said...

Fascinating as always, Ann.

Is there a photo archive at the library that folks can just browse?

Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks again for the history lesson, PIO!

All I knew was it definitely wasn't the old library at Walnut & Raymond, or the "2nd" Church of Christ Scientist, nor the grand old bank edifice at the ne corner of Garfield/Colorado, or the old Athletic club on Colorado - and not even the Acropolis!

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Great is sad that it's gone.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pasadenapio said...

Petrea, the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration is available to the public at

pasadenapio said...

There are also some photo co.llections in the Centennial Ro
m at Central Library.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you.