Walking tour takes us from College Avenue through the Russian Village
by John Neiuber
In the last installment we ended the tour in front of Carnegie Hall (Library). From Carnegie Hall proceed south on College Avenue to the corner of College and Fourth Street.
POMONA COLLEGE PRESIDENT’S HOUSE,
1915, 335 N. COLLEGE AVE.
The classic American Foursquare home has the distinction of being the oldest presidential residence still in use at any college or university in California. Architect Carroll H. Brown designed the house in 1900 at a total building cost of $5,280. Brown also was responsible for some of the grandest homes in Victorian Los Angeles and many notable office and educational buildings.
Head south on College to Bonita Avenue.
SEAVER HOUSE, 1900
305 N. COLLEGE AVE.
This was the home of the Carleton Seaver family, major donors to Pomona College. Since all six Seaver children attended Pomona College, Mr. Seaver’s widow willed the house to the college.
It was moved in three parts to this site in 1979, from its original location at Garey and Holt in Pomona, and was reassembled to serve as headquarters for the Pomona College Alumni Relations Office. The house is a beautiful example of the Greek Revival style with its two-story classical columns.
Continue south on College to Second Street.
RENWICK HOUSE, C. 1900
146 N. COLLEGE AVE.
This large, two-story, late Victorian on the east side of College Avenue, features a two-story turret and geometric multi-light windows. A large bay window on the south side is supported by brackets. The wraparound entry porch has classical columns.
The house, which now accommodates Pomona College’s Annual Giving Office, was built by Mrs. Helen Renwick, a widow from Iowa, who moved here to raise her only son and educate him from elementary school through Pomona College. She donated the money for construction of Rembrandt Hall, the art building at Pomona College, and the establishment of Pilgrim Place, a retirement community for Christian workers.
She also donated the land behind her house to be used as the site for the Claremont library, now named after her, a second version of which stands there today. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Proceed south on College to First Street.
SUMNER HOUSE, 1887
105 N. COLLEGE AVE.
This is Claremont’s only surviving full-scale, classic Queen Anne Victorian house. Built in 1887, it is marked by three gables, bays, sun rooms, excellent wood ornamentation in fish scale and diamond shingle patterns, and horizontal and vertical clapboard siding. The home of one of the founders of Pomona College, Rev. Charles Burt Sumner, it was moved to this site a decade after the college decided to settle in Claremont.
Beautifully restored by Pomona College, it now serves as a guest house for visitors to the campus, which begins just across the street. The colors are very close to the original.
Proceed east on First Street to Claremont Boulevard.
ARBOL VERNDE INTERCULTURAL
COUNCIL HOUSING, 1947-1955
FIRST STREET AND BROOKS AVENUE
This neighborhood housed a unique experiment in “intercultural living.” In the late 1940s, a group of Claremont citizens bought the vacant block of land bordered by Brooks Avenue, First Street, Claremont Boulevard and Harwood Place. They developed 12 lots to be sold to six Anglo and six Mexican families. Plans for flat-roofed, international style houses were provided to the new owners.
The experiment worked and the area still has a mix of Mexican American and Anglo families. The entire location is on the National Register of Historic Places.
From this location proceed south on Claremont Boulevard across Arrow Highway where Claremont Boulevard becomes Mills Avenue to the Russian Village Historic District.
RUSSIAN VILLAGE, 1923-1959
500 BLOCK OF SOUTH MILLS AVENUE
This group of 15 homes, lining Mills Avenue, was built of recycled materials during the Depression. The land was owned by Polish immigrant Konstanty Stys, who sold lots to friends or needy families and then helped them find building materials from wrecking yards and earthquake-damaged buildings. They are unified by their use of rock and street rubble as exterior materials, red-tile roofs, and the informal arrangement of each property.
This neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a prime example of folk architecture.
Go west on Cucamonga Avenue and turn south on Sycamore Avenue.
OAK PARK CEMETERY, 1897
410 SYCAMORE AVE.
Thomas Barrows purchased this land in 1897, to provide a proper resting place for his sister Octavia. He himself was the second burial here. This 20-acre site is covered with oaks, sycamores and palms, and is now managed by the city of Claremont with enough open space for another 100 years. Many founders of the town and of the Claremont Colleges, as well as citrus workers and grove owners, are buried here.
From Oak Park Cemetery, proceed north on Sycamore and turn west on Oak Park Drive. Continue on Oak Park crossing College Avenue and Indian Hill. Head north on Indian Hill and turn left onto Cinderella Drive.
CLAREMONT CINDERELLA HOMES, 1958
SOUTH OF ARROW HIGHWAY, WEST OF
INDIAN HILL AND NORTH OF VISTA
The Cinderella Homes tract is a unique neighborhood that was emblematic of the economic and housing boom of Southern California after World War II. It is also the story of, in the truest sense, the promise and hope of America after the war, not only for the originator, designer, builder-developer and franchiser Jean Valjean Vandruff, but for also for the families that purchased their very own American Dream. The Claremont “Cinderella Homes” tract was one of the franchise developments.
Local developer Robert A. Olin teamed with Ralph Lewis of Lewis Home to build the Claremont development and also the Claremont Highlands development in North Claremont. Olin also developed “Cinderella Royalty” in Pomona. Home prices began at $16,750. Today, Cinderella tract homes sell for 36 times the original price and are much sought after and prized by their owners.
The tour continues in the next installment and will begin on the northwest corner of Foothill and Claremont Boulevards.