Early Settlers and the Creation of Claremont

claremont depot Claremont Depot

Claremont is built on land once inhabited by Native Americans. Evidence of the Gabrielino Indians living here was found at our present day Indian Hill Boulevard near a mesa which is now the Santa Ana Botanical Gardens. During the Spanish-Mexican period of 1834, Claremont was part of the land holdings of Mission San Gabriel. It wasn't until the Santa Fe Railroad carved out a new route between Chicago and Los Angeles in 1887 that Claremont was created.

Claremont Becomes a College Town

pomona college gate Pomona College Gate

Expecting a land boom, the railroad built the Claremont Hotel, however, after the hotel stood empty, it was given to nearby Pomona College, eventually becoming what we know today as Summner Hall. Claremont became a college town, teachers and students moved here and they named streets after colleges found throughout the United States and England. By 1923 Pomona College had grown to university size. President James A. Blaisdell hoped for a "group of institutions divided into smaller colleges". His dream became a reality when Ellen Browning Scripps donated 250 acres of land, becoming what is today known as the Claremont Colleges, which includes Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Keck Graduate Institute.

The Citrus Industry

College Heights Citrus Label College Heights Citrus Label

Settlers planted orange and lemon trees and soon growing citrus became a way of making a living. The local growers worked together to start a system for picking and selling their fruit that was called a cooperative. This cooperative idea grew and spread all over California and is now known as "Sunkist".

The People of Claremont

Tooch Martin Tooch Martin

Many interesting people lived in Claremont. A group of retired missionaires, bringing stories from their travels all over the world, built a neighborhood of homes called Pilgrim Place. In the 1920s, many Mexican families came to Claremont to work in the citrus groves. Many of these workers made beautiful buildings out of the stones that fill our rocky soil. Those stone barns, water pump houses and ranch houses can still be seen all over town. One of the earliest and most remembered residents was Tooch Martin. The first anglo settler, Tooch orignally lived in town until it became too "crowded". He then moved to Palmer Canyon where he raised bees, hunted and became a Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Life in Claremont

Padua Hills Theatre Playbill Padua Hills Theatre Playbill

Claremont was a college and citrus town with a small village for shopping and a famous road on the northern part of town called Route 66 which we now call Foothill Boulevard. It was on this road that a well known landmark called Griswold's once sold candied fruit and jams to tourists. Griswald's later became the site of the first high school in Claremont. Another famous place to visit was the Padua Hills Theatre where the Mexican Players sang, danced and put on plays in Spanish.

The End of an Era

Citrus Packing House Citrus Packing House

When the Interstate 10 freeway was built connecting Claremont to Los Angeles, more and more people wanted to live here. Citrus ranchers sold their land to make room for new houses and eventually the citrus farms disappeared, however, the original packing house for the College Heights Orange and Lemon Association can still be seen. The building, on First Street, is now home to shops, restaurants and art galleries.

Claremont Today

Claremont Village Sign Claremont Village Sign

Claremont has had many nicknames over the years, including "Oxford of the Orange Belt", "The Town of Living and Learning", and "City of Trees and PhDs. Today, Claremont is a city of over 35,000 people. It is best known for its tree lined streets, historical buildings and as a college community.

Gabrielino Indians

These native americans settled on Indian Hill, a mesa located near what is now the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens.


Sunkist, consisting of California and Arizona citrus growers, is the oldest continually operating citrus cooperative in America.

Pilgrim Place

Since 1915 Pilgrim Place has been a home to those who have served as leaders of religious and charitable non-profit organizations throughout the world, including commissioned or ordained missionaries, ministers, theological seminary faculty, college professors of religion, YMCA/YWCA staff, community organizers, and peace and justice advocates.

Route 66

The highway, known as "America's main street", originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

Padua Hills Theatre

The Padua Hills Theatre was originally part of the Padua Hills Institute founded in the late 1920's by Herman H. Garner and his wife Bess. Their original intention was to foster and build a relationship with Mexico and their people by hosting a dinner theatre where local residents could come and enjoy fine Mexican cuisine and watch the Padua Players perform plays.

Interstate 10 Freeway

The Interstate 10 freeway stretching coast to coast, from Santa Monica, CA to Jacksonville, FL, connected Claremont to Los Angeles in 1957.

"Oxford of the Orange Belt"

This popular nick name was given to Claremont because of it's resemblance of the English town where Oxford University can be found and it's surrounding citrus trees.

Ellen Browning Scripps

In 1926, one of the founders of The Claremont Colleges, Ellen Browning Scripps, an educator, publisher, and philanthropist, donated funds to construct a women's college. Scripps college opened it's doors the following year to 50 students. Today, Scripps is home to 900 students from all over the United States and many parts of the world.

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