History of Glendora - Infrastructure Grows 1887-1911
Compiled by Culver Heaton, Jr.
Early in 1887, along with John W. Cook and Merrick Reynolds, George Whitcomb formed the Glendora Land Company. Land was cleared and streets were graded and named. Whitcomb named the north-south streets after states, places he had lived, or places for which he had a fondness, and the east-west streets for family members. Foothill Boulevard was originally named Minnehaha Avenue. Water mains were installed, 6,000 tiny pepper trees were planted along the streets and on April 1, 1887, a public sale of lots was held. History records that the first lot purchased was on the northeast corner of Bennett and Michigan Avenues. (Michigan Avenue was renamed Glendora Avenue in 1964). The purchaser, Mr. Jefferson Patton, paid $500 plus $500 for the privilege of first lot choice. Several years later, an inscribed stone market was placed on the corner to commemorate that initial sale. In all, 291 lots were sold on the first day of the sale.
In the late 1880’s the California real estate bubble burst and left many people disheartened and penniless. The problem of water, together with inadequate marketing facilities, made farming in Glendora a constant struggle. But the introduction of the citrus tree brought a new and welcome prosperity to the area.
Before the turn of the century, vast groves of orange and lemon Glendora Heights Extra Fancy citrus crate labeltrees began to establish Glendora as a center of the new Southern California citrus industry. In 1896, Glendora built its first packing house, and for a while the largest citrus packing house in the world was located here. Glendora had the great honor of loading a weekly supply of oranges and lemons aboard the Santa Fe train bound for the White House dining table of President William Howard Taft during his term of office from 1909 to 1913.
In 1887, Major George E. Gard, a U.S. Marshall and Los Angeles land speculator, purchased 320 acres of land south and southeast of Whitcomb’s townsite of Glendora and formed the Alosta Land and Water Company.
The name “Alosta” was taken, Jan 21 1887from Gard’s friend, Harrison Fuller, whose oldest daughter was Anna Losta. Gard and Whitcomb quarreled bitterly and the competition between them was so great that when Ada Avenue was put in, it originally did not connect the two towns. The biggest difference between Gard and Whitcomb was their attitude toward alcoholic beverages. Gard’s town of Alosta had a well-stocked bar in its hotel, a dance hall and a saloon. Whitcomb was a staunch Methodist, and saw to it that Glendora was the opposite and did not allow liquor to be bought, sold, manufactured or consumed within the town limits. By 1889, Alosta was failing and less than 24 families remained. Glendora was thriving with a population of 300 residents.
California approved legislation to build union high schools in 1891, and Citrus Union High School was the first to be established in the State. In 1915, Citrus College became the first Junior College in Los Angeles County.
The new century brought our town a certain amount of progress. In 1902, telephone service came to Glendora. The Pacific Electric Railway (the “Red Cars”) extended its line in 1907 and Glendora was designated as the turn-around point for the P.E. cars to return to Los Angeles. Electricity and natural gas became available to Glendorans in 1908-09. Glendora Avenue was paved all the way to Sierra Madre Avenue in 1920. During this same era, many of Glendora’s social, cultural and service clubs were established. Of note is the Glendora Woman’s Club, established in 1908 whose reading room eventually became the Glendora Public Library.