Throwback Thursday | El Centro School

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | | El Centro school 1928

The historic school site adjacent to the public library on El Centro Street is a vital property for achieving educational excellence in South Pasadena for over 130 years. The original Center Street School that stood here was built in 1885 and rebuilt in 1928 by architects Marsh, Smith & Powell (pictured above).

The site was used as an elementary school (El Centro School) as recently as 1979 when it became the administration building for the South Pasadena Unified School District. Today the school district is considering plans to develop the property for retail and housing while maintaining the existing buildings for their historical value in the community.

Note: In 1949 due to safety concerns following the devastating Long Beach earthquake, the El Centro School was strengthened, its tower removed, and the original school bell placed in storage. In 1952 the Jaycees rescued the quarter-ton school bell cast in 1889 and mounted it on the front lawn where it remains today.

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Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas

Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.