A Brief History of CV’s Schools

Let’s run through each of our schools briefly in the chronological order they were built. (Multiple sources list different dates, so forgive any errors.)

La Crescenta Elementary (1886) – La Crescenta’s founder, Dr. Benjamin Briggs, was trying to establish a town but he needed a school to attract settlers. He donated a lot on the northeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Dyer Street (the lower parking lot of today’s La Crescenta Library) and cement he had imported from Germany. A simple one-room schoolhouse took form that served double duty as a community center and church. He enlisted his niece to initially be the teacher.

In 1890, La Crescenta Elementary moved to a larger wooden building at Prospect and La Crescenta avenues. It should be noted that at this point in the valley’s history school was only grades one through eight. No kindergarten and for high school one had to go to Los Angeles. Starting in 1901, high school students were able to attend in Glendale.

In 1915 a larger Mediterranean-style school was built on the site. It was damaged in the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake. Students continued there anyway until 1947, when the current school was built.

Montrose Elementary (1923) – The valley’s population boomed in the 1920s, almost entirely below Foothill, and three elementary schools were built in quick succession. Montrose Elementary was built just west of Montrose. It had two stories of classrooms surrounding a central courtyard and was lushly landscaped in front. It was rebuilt to its current configuration in 1951. It was sold to the Armenian Sisters Academy in 1995.

Lincoln Elementary (1924) – It was first built as Westside Elementary, but was soon renamed Lincoln. It was rebuilt in the 1950s.

Fremont Elementary (1926) – Fremont was built to support the Sparr Heights neighborhood. It too was rebuilt but I don’t know when.

Clark Junior High/CV High School (1933) – The first building was a three-story brick building with 10 classrooms, set starkly in a bare lot with no landscaping. It was first named La Crescenta Junior High, but was changed to Clark Junior High in 1938 to memorialize the Reverend Andy Clark, a beloved community leader. Starting in 1955, it was greatly enlarged in anticipation of becoming a high school in 1960.

Construction delays in the two new junior highs, Clark and Rosemont, caused problems in 1960. The first Crescenta Valley High School class had to share its new facility with the students of Clark and Rosemont for a half year. The school has been added to frequently over the years.

Monte Vista Elementary (1948) – After WWII, a population boom again hit the valley, this time concentrated above Foothill, and Monte Vista was the first school built in response.

Dunsmore Elementary (1949) – Dunsmore has one of the more interesting origin stories. Surplus Army barracks from a base in Santa Ana were moved intact to the school lot and repurposed into classrooms. Although it’s gone through a few remodels, the long shape of the former barracks is still evident.

Valley View Elementary (1958) – Built high in the valley, it received a makeover in 1998.

Lowell Elementary (1960) – As the development of the valley moved westward, this elementary school was built on the far western edge of the valley. It was short-lived, though, and was sold to Chamlian Armenian School in 1983.

Clark Junior High/Rosemont Junior High (1961) – These two junior highs were built to take the place of Clark Junior High, which was transformed into CV High School in 1961. They were built at the same time and are nearly identical, Rosemont to the east and Clark to the west, both high above Foothill. Rosemont remained a middle school. Clark was closed in 1982, and hosted several film shoots. It was renovated and reopened in 1998 as Clark Magnet High for Technology and Science, pulling in students from across the school district.

Mountain Avenue Elementary (1967) – After a long and bitter eminent domain fight over the property, Mountain Avenue was built on the far east side of the valley.

No new schools since the ’60s, but all have been remodeled and added to.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at lawlerdad@yahoo.com.