James A. Garfield: Mystery History

Oct 9, 2012

Photos courtesy of PMH and the Pasadena Central Library

Where are we? And what’s happening?

In this 1903 photo, young students plant gardens at James A. Garfield Elementary School.

The school, at what is now the northeast corner of Pasadena Avenue and California Boulevard, was designed by the firm Ridgeway, Stewart & Son in the Anglo-Teutonic style.

It opened in 1888 on a large property that included gardens and orchards planted and tended by students (with supervision, of course).

In their 1920 book The World’s Work: A History of Our Time, Walter Hines Page and Arthur Wilson Page wrote:

The Garfield school (in) Pasadena, California, is again conspicuous for its masses of pink ivy-geraniums over the stone wall which supports the sloping lawn, its beds of pink and white geraniums, (and) its clusters of rose bushes and palm trees. In New York, (such) limited space has prevented extensive gardens, but an occasional playground is outlined by a hedge of green.

With Pasadena’s population boom in the late 1800s, additions were built on the campus, including this charming kindergarten building that opened in 1902:

I love this photo of kindergarteners learning woodworking skills on one of the building’s porches:

Garfield School is long gone (a Vons shopping center inhabits the space now). These hale and hearty young boys bid you farewell.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and the Pasadena Museum of History.

Ann Erdman is happily retired after decades of loyal service to the City of Pasadena as the Public Information Officer. Her blog can be found at


2 Responses for “James A. Garfield: Mystery History”

  1. I love your Mystery History columns, Ann.

  2. Arturo Gómez says:

    I attended Garfield for 2 years back in the mid-60s, 5th and 6th grade. I would walk to school from our apt on Hurlbut-next to the Crown Fence Co, at that time there was an active freight train line running parralell to Fair Oaks. Then from there St Andrews for 7th and 8th, LaSalle for 9th and ending up at Blair, PHS and Temple City before returning to Rose City to attend PCC. Thanks for sharing this history. I recall that often after school we’d walk up Pasadena Ave to the original location of Mijares and get some tortilla chips, a taco and a soda. When the Long beach Fwy was scheduled to be constructed that changed the dynamics of Pasadena Ave converting it to a 1 way street now back to 2 way, Sadly those anti-progress people in So Pasa have held up construction of the last link of the Long Beach FWY errrrr 720 to this day over 40 years later



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