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Historic Tales 2


By Tom Rische

More than 60 events are being planned to note Torrance's Centennial years, 2011-12, according to Chairperson Laurie Love. The celebration will begin with a major light show on November 6, in which more than a thousand local citizens will participate. Also scheduled is a Thanksgiving "turkey trot" on November 24. Watch for more.

Here's some early Torrance history, with answers in the text below.

1.  The first school in the present-day city of Torrance was founded in (a) 1875; (b) 1890; (c) 1914; (d)1923.

2.  A bell, now in the Torrance Historical Museum, called North Torrance students to classes at which school? (a) Torrance High; (b) Torrance Elementary; (c) Perry; (d) Walteria; (e) Fern.

Torrance's first school, called Weston School, was 22 years older than the city itself. It was a one-room wood-frame building on farm land north of present-day Lomita Blvd. and west of Crenshaw. It was started, with outdoor plumbing in 1890 by rancher Orin Weston, for his children and those of ranch hands on his 3000-acre spread. It closed about 1913, when Torrance Elementary School opened at 1824 Cabrillo (now a house), educating 66 students from the two-year-old city. Early teachers were men, to better control rowdy students. Students and teachers walked or rode horses to get there.

Perry School, near present-day 176th and Prairie Ave., served North Torrance children from 1905 to 1981. The school's large iron bell, which called children to classes, now is located in the Torrance Historical Society. Perry was a separate school district until 1947, but joined the new Torrance School District.

Torrance High School opened in 1917. Its Beaux Arts administration building is a National Historic Building, so designated by the Torrance Historical Society. It had seven classrooms and 19 students, but also included a junior high. Its first two graduates got diplomas in 1918, the same year Torrance Evening High School opened.

Three more elementary schools followed: a new Torrance Elementary campus in 1923; Walteria in 1925, and Fern in 1932, all under the Los Angeles School system. By 1930, more than 2,000 students attended local schools.

A 1933 earthquake badly damaged Torrance High and Torrance Elementary Schools, and children attended classes in tents as repairs were made. Walteria School was damaged so badly that classes were moved to temporary buildings at 242nd and Park. Torrance schools separated from Los Angeles in 1947.