Mystery History No.11

Apr 15, 2013

Mystery HistoryWhere are we? What’s happening?

In this 1934 photo, 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 stie 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:

Horace Mann Construction

And, the complete structure:

Horace Mann Completion

This close-up shows the spectacular architectural elements:

Horace Mann Closeup

This aerial shot illustrates the huge scale of the building:

Horace Mann Overhead

A population boom in Pasadena after World Ward 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 tremblors. 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, fifty temporary tents were set up to house classrooms.


There is much more detailed information here.

Many thanks to Pasadena City College and Pasadena Public Library.


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



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