Pasadena’s first school dated to the “pioneer” period in 1875 which according to historian Hiram A. Reid was a little rough board building, with its one teacher and very quickly, too many young scholars. The school had actually begun somewhat earlier on September 10, 1874 in school teacher’s Jeannie Clapp’s father’s home with two students, the twin daughters, Jennie and Jessie of Colonel Banbury.
The San Pasqual School District was created in 1874. Along with Henry G. Bennett and Jabez Banbury who were voted in as trustees for the new district, Mrs. Carver, the former Jeannie Clapp, was officially recognized as the first teacher of the district. The new school district embraced the entire original colony (east to Santa Anita Road, and to the mountains on the north).
The number of pupils, a mixture of Indiana transplants and indigenous children at the Clapp family school quickly soared from two to sixteen children. Recognizing that more space than the Clapp parlor could offer was needed, $300 was obtained from the district and the aforementioned little rough board building was constructed by Clinton B. Ripley on Orange Grove Avenue just south of California Street. Tom Croft and J.R. Giddings hauled the lumber to the site of the new school and Charlie Bell assisted in the carpenter work. The new schoolhouse opened its doors in January 28, 1875 to the following scholars:
1. Charles Mosher
2. Jennie Mosher
3. Lavina Mosher
4. Laura Eaton
5. Belle Eaton
6. Ben Eaton
7. George Eaton
8. Will Eaton
9. Howard Conger
10. Jennie Banbury
11. Jessie Banbury
12. Whittier Elliot
13. Agnes Elliot
14. Florence Edwards
15. Forrest Edwards
16. Belle Wilson
17. Jas. M. Wilson
18. Charles Wilson
19. Maggie Wilson
Mrs. Carver did not stay long at the new school. The facility was completed in 1875 and by 1877
three different teachers, Mrs. Carver, Mrs. Rogers, and Eugenia Rudisill, had served as teacher for
the young students.
According to writer John Steven McGroarty, it was believed by many that the construction of the
school on Orange Grove Avenue would help define this area as the center of the village. However,
new acreage, that of the Lake Vineyard Colony lands, was subdivided by B.D. Wilson and made
available for purchase. Hoping to attract families, Wilson set aside five acres on the southeast
corner of Colorado St. and Fair Oaks Avenue for a school. The developer apparently made a strong
case that this location, rather than the current site of the little school, would better serve both
colonies. Subsequently, the school was moved. Those living on the west side were so incensed by
this action that they seceded from the San Pasqual District and in 1878 the Pasadena School
District was born. The territory that the new district served was south of California Street and
west of Fair Oaks Avenue.
Now in need of their own school, the Pasadena School District took Clinton B. Riley up on his offer
for the use of a building he had built on Rose Hill, just west of Columbia Hill. In 1883, the district purchased the land on Columbia Hill where Riley built another new schoolhouse.
With the construction of the school complete on Columbia Hill, C.B. Riley made the Rose Hill building his home. In 1884 the district sold the Columbia Hill schoolhouse for $1,000 to the developers of what was to become Pasadena’s first college, Sierra Madre College. Unfortunately, because of fiscal insolvency, the institution of higher education was forced to close its doors after just two years. The building and land were subsequently purchased by C.D. Daggett where he made his home. Columbia School was moved to a new building on Lake St., south of Walnut.
McGroarty, John Steven. Los Angeles: From the Mountains to the Sea. Volume 1. 1921. The American Historical Society, Chicago and New York. Available on internetarchive.org
Reid, Hiram A. History of Pasadena. 1895. Pasadena History Company. Available on
Page, Henry Markham. Pasadena: Its Early Years. 1964. Lorrin L. Morrison, Print and Publishing.
Los Angeles. Available on internetarchive.org