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All About Route 66 in La Verne, California

Sherry has been writing about home, family, and pets since 2008. She enjoys retirement, traveling, reading, and crafts.

Starting in the late seventies, the city added trees to almost every boulevard.

Starting in the late seventies, the city added trees to almost every boulevard.

Route 66

You are near the end of your Route 66 journey when you descend the San Bernardino mountains into the Inland Empire of Southern California. The drive is easy now, and in another 50 miles, you will start to feel the cooler weather of the Pacific Ocean.

One of the first cities on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County is La Verne. Foothill Boulevard is Route 66 through this southern California suburb. The route runs straight through the middle of town, which was incorporated in 1887 as Lordsburg by the land speculator Wilson Lord. The name changed after Wilson Lord died. This photo scrapbook will take you down Route 66, starting on the east and ending at the west end of the city.

U.S. Route 66 Through La Verne

The entire stretch of Foothill Blvd has been redeveloped in this LA suburb. Only a couple of buildings still stand that would have been part of a traveler's experience in the 30s and 40s.

Traveling through today, you will find a tree-lined boulevard with condos and shopping divisions. There is an Old Town along D Street about a mile from Foothill. There you will see turn-of-the-century buildings and commemoration of the old orange groves. Old Town is also home to La Verne University, a popular private college. It is a small college situated on old-town city blocks and blends in with the neighborhood.

Two blocks south of Foothill on D St. is the United Methodist Church, the site of the closing scene of the 1964 movie The Graduate.

Read "Remembering Mt. Baldy Drive-In" for more information about the immediate area on Foothill.

Movie Church on D st.

Movie Church on D st.

Your Route Starting From the East End

The view at the start

The view at the start

The hills

The hills

At Gary and Foothill past the Jack in the Box is the oldest-looking building on Foothill. Look for a good view of the San Gabriel Mountains with the "L".

This tree once dominated the area!

This tree once dominated the area!

As you travel down Foothill Blvd, look for this original native California Live Oak tree behind the La Paloma sign. Before the citrus groves were planted, this tree dominated the area.

Williams Avenue

The first street in La Verne coming up after the landscaping place is Williams Ave. A big citrus grove lined Foothill during the late twenties owned by the Williams family on the north side. When the road was designated Route 66, the family started with a citrus stand and then expanded to Tom's Cafe.

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The farm property was divided and sold in the sixties, but this building remains. The original Tom's Cafe's stained glass windows were retained for a popular Mexican eatery established in the sixties.

Window Tom's Cafe

Window Tom's Cafe

Are you hungry?

Are you hungry?

An old photo appearing in the local newspaper showed a double window where the side door is now. The window invited travelers into a comfortable family eatery. The original family farmhouse still stands on Williams Ave.

The city has preserved a small orange grove at Heritage Park. A California live oak that is endemic to the area is there as well (see above). A creek runs through the park. Orange groves could have been seen from Foothill all the way to the base of the foothills. The groves are tract homes now.

The mansion

The mansion

The Mansion

The DeWenter Mansion, built in 1940, is still the grandest house in town and sits on a knoll about a mile from Route 66. Henry DeWenter was able to build the gem from the earnings of his 299-acre orange grove and ranch. The traveler would have seen the house above the orange groves from Foothill Blvd. Built for grandeur and entertaining, there is an indoor pond/pool under a glass atrium on the south side and a two-story-high living room with views facing the mountains on the north. Actors and the rich enjoyed stays and entertainment in this impressive 10,000-foot house.

In 1986 the Heritage Foundation of La Verne offered tours. The neighbors enjoyed seeing fairy-tale decor, such as tasteful wood trim, stairs, and windows of the early 20th century. A patio setting with concrete banisters lines the north side of the house. The front of the house faces the San Gabriel Mountains. The high windows you see on the left are the beautiful living room. The two small windows on the second story seen at the corner of the house are an open loft with wood banisters and a cozy view of the living room below. A doorway from the loft leads to a castle-like stairway to the atrium and pool below.

By the early nineties, large tract homes and a new elementary school circled the property. The school is to the west of a creek that runs past the house. This picture is a view from the school grounds. It is visible from Heritage Park, as well. The mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places and is owned by a private resident. You can see the listing by searching DeWenter Mansion.

This turn of the 20th century house is at Foothill and Moreno.

This turn of the 20th century house is at Foothill and Moreno.

West End of La Verne

Half a mile west of the Mansion is a house still standing from the early 20th century. It is a restaurant at the corner of Moreno and Foothill and a couple of blocks from the Hormel House (the food-processing family).

The Hormel summer house now faces a 20-foot wall for the 210 freeway. It probably had a beautiful lawn facing Foothill at one time. A glimpse of the living room, dining room, and kitchen at an antique sale confirmed that this is a lovely example of Spanish-Mediterranean style.

Hormel House Near the Stainless Steel Diner

Hormel House Near the Stainless Steel Diner

Department of Water of Power

In the 20s and 30s, this was orange-grove country. By the 40s, the trees started to fade and began to be bulldozed for tract homes.

Just a half-mile south of the boulevard on Moreno, the Department of Water and Power built a water processing plant in 1940. This concrete structure is an Art Deco gem and is still processing water for the area of the county. Designed by Daniel Elliot of reinforced concrete, it is a substation of a 392-mile aqueduct.

DWP water plant

DWP water plant

DWP

DWP

How About You?

West End of La Verne

West End of La Verne

Stainless Steel Restaurant

At the western border of the city is the stainless steel Denny's Restaurant with a Route 66 sign. Around 2014, this diner became a Mr. D's Restaurant with Greek-inspired American menu items. It has been immensely popular since.

The contractor reused the very tall palms from the shuttered fast-food drive-in that used to be at this location.

If you should take a Route 66 road trip, I hope this will make your trip through La Verne a little more enjoyable.

A rare dusting of snow on the foothills above Route 66 in La Verne. Feb. 10, 2010. The "L" is clearly visible.

A rare dusting of snow on the foothills above Route 66 in La Verne. Feb. 10, 2010. The "L" is clearly visible.

Postcards From the Past

Small orange grove maintained by the city. An old farmhouse, barn, windmill, and farm equipment is located here at Wheeler and Via de Mansion.

Small orange grove maintained by the city. An old farmhouse, barn, windmill, and farm equipment is located here at Wheeler and Via de Mansion.

A citrus grove tractor. La Verne, CA. Half mile from Old Route 66.

A citrus grove tractor. La Verne, CA. Half mile from Old Route 66.

Route 66 in Southern California

Route 66 in Southern California

Old growth live oak tree. There are others in the foothills above this location. Some were moved and preserved by the builders of tract homes that came in the eigthies and later.

Old growth live oak tree. There are others in the foothills above this location. Some were moved and preserved by the builders of tract homes that came in the eigthies and later.

Winter Sunset in La Verne, CA

Winter Sunset in La Verne, CA

© 2009 Sherry Venegas

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