Friday, August 24, 2012
Our Pepper Trees
Our town's first schoolhouse was built in 1882, at the corner of Live Oak (now Orange Grove) and Hermosa.
By 1884, the original one-room schoolhouse had become too small, and the second schoolhouse was built. The new two-room building was located at the corner of Central (now Sierra Madre Boulevard) and Baldwin, on land that was purchased from Nathaniel C. Carter. This two-acre space, in the area that is now the Kersting Court, was purchased from Nathaniel C. Carter for $3,000. One feature of the school building was an iron rail, for the burros and Shetland ponies that brought some of the children to school.
Mrs. Chloe B. Jones, the schoolteacher at that time, asked the school's trustees to plant California Pepper Trees on the school's grounds, and in two rows along the surrounding sidewalks. She assured them that she would take care of the trees during the school year, if they would take care of them during vacations. There were several school boys who were honored, on occasion, to be asked to bring their garden hoses to school to water the trees.
Over the years, many of the trees have been lost for various reasons, including fire damage, street widening, and general safety concerns. But this lovely tree remains in Kersting Court.
Source: "The Early School Days of Sierra Madre," by Mrs. J.C. (Mary A.) Dickson, in Annals of Early Sierra Madre, published in 1950, by the Sierra Madre Historical Society