La Crescenta Woman's Club

4004 La Crescenta Ave., La Crescenta, CA
(818) 957-9806

La Crescenta History

(Picture Courtesy of the Glendale Library) 


Begun in 1911 as the Crescenta Club to help improve the community, the La Crescenta Woman's Club, pictured above, was incorporated in 1924 with the official objectives of "advancement in all lines of general culture, promotion of the general welfare of the community and philanthrophy work." Initial projects included making improvements to the La Crescenta School and offering aid during the Big Tujunga Fire of 1925. After the great flood of 1934, the Woman's Club served as a first aid station. The clubhouse was built in 1925 and enlarged in 1961, as the club celebrated it's 50th anniversary. Damaged significantly in 1966 by an arson-set fire, it was rebuilt almost immediately.


Dr. Benjamin Briggs

(Picture Courtesy of Mike Lawler, Crescenta Valley Historic Society) 

In the early 1880s Dr. Benjamin Briggs, who had been a physician of long practice in Crawfordsville, Indiana, made a world-wide search for an ideal climate and found his way to Southern California. Immediately he perceived that the Cañada Valley at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains had all the qualifications for which he had been searching. It had been his desire to devote himself to horticultural pursuits and the establishment of a health resort. With these intentions he purchased large acreage in the northwestern part of La Cañada Rancho from Col. A. W. Williams and Dr. J. L. Lanterman. Dr. Briggs did not live to carry out all of his plans, but attracted to the area many persons who were interested in his ambitions.

We have heard and read different stories of the origin of the name La Crescenta. Some tell the tale of the romantic Spanish lovers who, many moons ago, watched the silver crescent sink behind the Verdugo Hills, others relate that the name came from the fact that the Valley forms a crescent around the base of the mountains.

We know the Spanish word for crescent is "creciente," the Italian word for crescent is "crescenta." However, the word is not of Italian origin. From the site which he had chosen for his home, Dr. Briggs had a clear view of the entire Valley, and from it he saw a series of three crescents.

La Crescenta Avenue

(Picture Courtesy of Mike Lawler, Crescenta Valley Historic Society)  

At the foot of the San Rafael Hills on the southeast was one, at the foot of the Verdugo Hills on the southwest was another, and on the north was a large crescent at the foot of the Sierra Madre range. So, Dr. Briggs coined the words "La Crescenta" and gave this original unique name to the community which was beginning to develop. Mrs. S. Seymour Thomas states that there is no other place by that name in the world, and a letter scantily addressed to La Crescenta, U.S.A., would reach its proper destination.

A petition for a school at Crescenta was filed with the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools on June 6, 1887. The petition was signed by George Engelhardt and 23 others.

From the report of the County Superintendent of Schools of Los Angeles County to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sacramento, California, we quote:

La Crescenta (New District) for the school year 1886 -- ending June 30, 1887.
Number of pupils enrolled .............................................19
Average daily attendance ............................................. 14
School year 1887 - ending June 30, 1988.
Number of pupils enrolled .............................................27
Average daily attendance ............................................. 10

The school building erected of solid cement in 1886 was at 2823 Foothill Blvd. Dr. Briggs donated the site and was aided in the construction by a committee, some of whom were General Shields, John C. Cryer, father of Ex-Mayor Cryer of Los Angeles, and Phil Begue. Much effort was required to build even such a small building. Transportation of the materials from Los Angeles and San Pedro, most of which had come around the Horn, was a difficult problem. Water and food supplies also had to be hauled long distances.

Dr. Fletcher came out from Los Angeles to hold church services in the building, and La Crescenta Community Presbyterian Church, which erected a building of its own in November 1923 on Montrose Avenue, had its beginning in the little school building. In the autumn of 1887 Miss Haskell again volunteered to teach and opened the school which had 19 pupils.

By 1890 there was need for a larger school building, and a site on Los Angeles Avenue, which has since become the corner of La Crescenta and Prospect Avenues, was donated by Mr. Henry J. Ristine, a son-in-law of Dr. Briggs. The building constructed here served until 1914. Under the able leadership of Mr. Harvey S. Bissell, a vote for school bonds was unanimous and the first unit of the present La Crescenta school building replaced the old building. This location, both the old and the present building, was for years the center of community activities - school, church, club, Red Cross and political meetings were held there.


The Lincoln school building, at 3333 Altura, was built in 1923-24, and the Parent Teacher Association was organized in 1925, with Mrs. R. Q. MacDonald as president.

The first unit, a ten-room building, of La Crescenta Junior High School at 2920 Community Drive, was built in 1932 and opened for the fall term in that year. La Crescenta Junior High School Parent Teacher Association was organized in October 1932, and Mrs. R. Q. MacDonald was the first president.

In June 1938, the name of this school was changed to Anderson W. Clark Junior High School by action of the Board of Education of the Glendale Unified School District. The name was given the school to perpetuate the memory of Rev. "Andy" Clark who, with his family, lived in Crescenta Valley for 16 years. Rev. and Mrs. Clark did outstanding child welfare and social service work here and in different parts of the world. Mr. Clark died in April 1938 at the age of 86 years.

With the completion of this school building, La Crescenta-Cañada Valley had school equipment second to none. Nowhere in an equal area could you find five large, modern school buildings, giving all the advantages from kindergarten to and including junior high school.

One of our statisticians has figured that the growth in school attendance during the period
of eight years had been 600 percent.


(Picture Courtesy of Katherine Halford) 


St. Luke's of the Mountains, the Episcopal church on the northeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Rosemont Avenue, is build on ground donated by Mrs. Louisa Janvier of Pasadena who passed away in January 1933. Mrs. Janvier was among the early purchasers of real estate in La Crescenta and delighted in spending her weekends here. Through her efforts Canon Robert Renison became interested in establishing the church, and early in 1923 Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Thomas also became interested. Plans to raise the necessary funds were immediately started. The cornerstone was laid April 20, 1924. The exterior plan of the building and the name of St. Luke were suggested by Mr. Thomas. The Westminster Chimes of St. Luke's, which announced to us in dulcet notes the passing of time, were the gift of Robert Watchorn.

The Seventh Day Adventist church was organized in September 1924, and meetings were held in a small building on the rear of the property. In 1926 the main building on the southwest corner of Rosemont and Montrose Avenues was completed. The building was in the path of the flood January 1, 1934 and almost completely demolished. That portion of the building that was usable was moved to a new location, 2844 Montrose Avenue, where a modern church plant was developed.

Contact Information


4004 La Crescenta Ave.

P O Box 8494

La Crescenta, CA 91214

Membership:  818-658-1104