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History of Daniel Webster

History of Daniel Webster

Pasadena in the 1920’s was a thriving community filled with growing businesses and emerging cultural institutions. Wealthy tourists flocked here from all across the country to take in the beautiful scenery and mild weather. The newly constructed Rose Bowl stood alongside the Arroyo Seco, and a brand new Civic Center rose above the heart of downtown. Pasadena’s tree-lined neighborhoods were overflowing with families, and the schools were bursting at the seams.

To ease the overcrowding, Pasadena passed a $750,000 school bond in June of 1921. The Board of Education used the money to replace outdated facilities and build four new schools, but it was not enough to remedy the problem. Two more bond issues were passed in the following years, totaling just over 4 million dollars. Eighteen more schools were constructed, and the decade from 1920-1930 became known as a “golden age of educational reconstruction in Pasadena.” The Pasadena community made education a priority, and as a result, new facilities were built and innovative programs were put into place, including a junior high system, preschools and centralized parent education. It has been said that citizens of Pasadena poured into the schools “so that this community might give to every child what it’s most favored and discerning citizen would choose to provide for his own child.” *

During this time of tremendous growth in Pasadena, Daniel Webster School was founded. The school was first established in 1926, in two bungalows on the East end of the Marshall Junior High School grounds. At the time, it was referred to as Marshall Elementary School. The Parent Teacher Association was organized on January 27, 1926.

As soon as their new gothic-style building on Washington Street was finished in 1927, the children were moved in. Students were also transferred from the overflowing Longfellow and Jefferson schools to make up a beginning enrollment of 475 children. The school was re-named Daniel Webster Elementary School, after the famous American Statesman, lawyer and orator.

Webster’s new school building was comprised of the West wing of the existing school building, which now houses the Kindergarten classrooms, and the main entrance to the school was on Pepper Drive. A steel plate on the floor of the current building marks the boundary of that first schoolhouse.

In 1933, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California, and several Pasadena schools were closed or demolished due to structural concerns. Webster survived the quake and reinforcement work was completed on October 31, 1935. An annex of four classrooms was added in 1948-49, and a parcel of land north of the playground, facing Pepper drive was purchased in 1950-51.

Thanks to the generosity of the Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre voters in 2001, Measure Y funded the demolition of several pre-World War II bungalows on the lower campus, and the construction of a modern building which houses the School Library, restrooms and five classrooms. In 2006, the school expanded to include middle school students. At that time, the name was officially changed from Webster Elementary School to Daniel Webster School. In 2009, after district reconfiguration, the school once again became an elementary school, serving grades PreK-5.

*From “81 Years of Public Education in Pasadena”