Places of Interest
Whittier is a city drenched in history. Incorporated in 1898, the city of Whittier has gone through many changes, but has still maintained the vision of an upscale dynamic community with great visions of growth and a strong commitment to providing a healthy and safe community. Here are some historic gems of the Whittier Uptown that contribute to our vast culture and history.
Photos Credit: Whittier Public Library Historic Photo Collection
The Jonathan Bailey House
Formerly known as “The Old Ranch House,” the Bailey House is still located at its original site at 13421 Camilla Street. The Bailey House was built by Jacob Gerkens around 1868-1869 and is the oldest building in the City. The property was the home of Whittier’s first settlers, Jonathan and Rebecca Bailey, between 1887 and 1894. The first “Friends” meetings were held on the front porch of the house. The house was deeded to the City of Whittier in 1975 and is operated under the auspices of the Whittier Historical Society. The Bailey House is on the Local Official Register of Historic Resources. Guided tours are available by calling (562) 945-3871 for more information.
Bailey School House Bell
In 1888, school bonds in the amount of $8,000 were approved and the Jonathan Bailey Grammar School was completed in 1889. When the second Jonathan Bailey School building was razed in 1962-63, many people sought to save Whittier’s first school bell. Today the bell can be seen at the rear entrance of City Hall, 13230 Penn Street. The plaque on the monument reads “First Bell in Whittier – 1889 Hung in old Bailey Street School -1926 rehung in new Bailey School on Hadley Street. In early days this bell was rung on many civic and patriotic occasions. Erected in Civic Center, 1963.”
Historic Residential District
Whittier has four Historic Residential Districts. The Hadley/Greenleaf District is bounded by Greenleaf Avenue to the west, Broadway Street to the north, Hadley Street to the south and Painter Avenue to the east. The Central Park District surrounds Central Park (Washington and Friends Avenues run N/S and Hadley and Bailey Streets run E/W) but extends at points to Painter Avenue and below Bailey Street on both Washington Avenue and Friends Avenue. The third is the College Hills District with homes along Worsham Drive, Hillside Lane, Philadelphia Street, Ridge Road and ending on the eastern side of Bailey Street. The fourth, and most recent, is the Earlham Historic District. The District includes portions of the original tract and represent an early Whittier College neighborhood with many existing architectural examples of early 20th century homes, structures and objects from 1903-1940 that still reflect their era of development through their physical placement, architectural design, material cladding and method of construction. Many of the homes were also associated with Whittier College administrators and faculty. For a complete list of contributing/non-contributing properties, please contact the Secretary of the Historic Resources Commission at (562) 567-9320. Click on the links above to view District maps.
Nixon’s First Law Office (Bank Building)
The former First National Bank and Bank of America Building, 13006 Philadelphia Street, occupies the site of the very first bank in Whittier (1895), and has been the location of at least four banks. The existing building, built in 1928, is the best remaining example of Beaux Arts style in the City. The building is of national significance as it was the site of 37th United States President Richard M. Nixon’s first law office. Whittier was the boyhood home of the former President; although born in Yorba Linda, California, his family relocated to Whittier when he was 9 years old. In 1938, he served as the Deputy City Attorney to the City of Whittier. A replica of President Nixon’s office has been re-created and is available to tour at the Whittier Historical Museum. The site is on the Local Official Register of Historic Resources.
Site of The Four Bricks of Whittier
The original Town Center of Whittier was located at the corner of Greenleaf Avenue and Hadley Street. The Lindley Building was the first to be constructed on the SW corner, followed by the Harvey Apartments on NE corner. The other two corners were built at the same time in 1888 by C. W. Harvey for Moses Ricker and George Mason. Mr. Mason later demolished his building, which occupied the site where the First Christian Church now stands. The building on the SE corner was demolished prior to 1930. In 1913, C. W. Harvey doubled the size of the Harvey Apartments and added italianate features before selling the property. The remaining portions of these early structures were demolished after the 1987 Whittier Narrows Earthquake; the current Lindley Building and Harvey Apartments were rebuilt using original bricks. Original Lindley bricks are also incorporated into the Palm Station on the Whittier Greenway Trail, near Palm Park. As time passed, however, the natural center of the Uptown business/commercial district evolved at the intersection of Greenleaf Avenue and Philadelphia Street.
The Whittier Historic Depot Transportation Center
Initial construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad Station began in 1888. In 1891, the citizens of Whittier put up $42,000 to bring a 6-mile Southern Pacific spur track from Los Nietos. Final construction of the Victorian-style station was completed in 1892. In 1895, a southern extension was added to the depot to provide fruit packing space for the Whittier Fruit Exchange. It is one of only 4 remaining 1890’s stations in the state of California. Restored, then re-dedicated in 2002 as the Whittier Historic Depot, the station is used by the City of Whittier as a Transportation Office and Transportation Museum (open by appointment). Located at 7333 Greenleaf Avenue, the Depot is on the Local, State and National Registers of Historic Resources.
Whittier Historical Society & Museum
The Whittier Historical Society was formally organized in 1970. The Museum, located at 6755 Newlin Avenue, offers an archives room, ongoing programs and tours. The Society also operates the Bailey House. For more information about the Museum and its collections, please call the Museum at (562) 945-3871 or click here
Whittier National Trust and Savings Bank
Built in 1932 as a replacement of a 1905 brick building 6754 Greenleaf Avenue, the Whittier National Trust and Savings Bank was designed by Whittier resident William H. Harrison in the modern style. The Bank’s building committee insisted that local businesses be used for construction whenever possible, approximately 75% of the workers on the building were from the Whittier area.
Art in Public Places
In 1993, the City Council adopted the Art in Public Places Ordinance (WMC 12.52), which established a percentage for art programs in the City. The intent of the program is to provide a collection of nationally recognized artwork throughout the City for public benefit. The Ordinance requires new residential, commercial or manufacturing development having a total value of $250,000 or more to provide artwork valued at one-half of one percent of the total project cost or pay in-lieu contributions equal to the same amount. The Art in Public Places Advisory Committee advises the Commission and the Council on public art matters. Click here to learn more about Whittier’s Art in Public Places.