Featured Historical Pictures

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Arcadia History Room Featured Historical Pictures

If you’re interested in Arcadia’s rich history, visit either the Arcadia History Room at the Arcadia Public Library or The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage.

The Arcadia History Room is shown by appointment only. Call (626) 821-5569 for an appointment, or (626) 574-5440 for more information about the Museum’s collection.


This c. 1951 photo of the Westerner Inn shows a portion of the exterior of the guest accommodations and the swimming pool. The Westerner Inn was built at 161 Colorado Place in Arcadia, CA, in 1946, on a former cornfield. It was on Route 66, across from the Santa Anita Park Race Track, and the San Gabriel Mountains are visible in the background. The Westerner Inn was sold in 1984.


Photo courtesy of the Arcadia History Collection, Arcadia Public Library. Aug-Sep2018 ID 423.




  Photo courtesy of the Arcadia History Collection, Arcadia Public Library, Jun-Jul2018. ID#1334

The Santa Anita Bowling Green Club was formed in June, 1937 with an initial membership of twenty men. Membership had been restricted to men until 1960, when four women were welcomed into the club. In 1969, Lilly Godfrey became the club’s first woman president. The Santa Anita Bowling Green Club and the bowling greens at Arcadia County Park still exist. If you want to try your hand at rolling a ball to hit a “jack,” contact the Arcadia County Park at 626-821-4619 for details. Nighttime bowling is also available.




Photograph courtesy of the Arcadia History Collection, Arcadia Public Library, Arcadia CA. Apr-May2018. ID#1276

U.S. Army Balloon School Ross Field Arcadia calisthenics

During World War I, the U.S. Army sent soldiers into the air in sausage-shaped, hydrogen-filled balloons, 95 feet in length. Their job was to observe enemy positions and report back to the artillery post. Long before the Los Angeles County golf course was built, the United States Army Balloon School (later known as Ross Field) was located on that site in Arcadia. The soldiers were trained to observe from a wicker basket attached to the balloon and to operate the balloon, which involved a 60-man crew on the ground tasked with hoisting, gas-bagging, rigging, and electrical duties. Over 300 men received training here, including the officers pictured above in calisthenics class, circa 1918.

Look for the anchor (and plaque) at Arcadia County Park that was originally used by the balloon school trainees to hold the enormous balloons in place.



 Anita Baldwin

Photograph courtesy of the Arcadia History Collection, Arcadia Public Library. Feb-Mar2018. ID#957

Renaissance Woman 

Anita Baldwin, the only daughter born to Arcadia’s founding father Elias J. Baldwin and his third wife Jane Virginia Dexter, possessed many talents and wore many different hats. As a composer, she wrote more than 50 published songs including music for Richard Walton Tully’s “Blossom Bride” and “Omar the Tentmaker.” During her travels to China, Japan, India, and Spain, she would study the local music and then write songs that maintained the native motifs of those lands, though she would never sell her compositions. As a philanthropist, she founded the Anita M. Baldwin Hospital for Babies in 1920. That hospital has evolved into the Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center and is currently located at 1530 S. Olive St. in Los Angeles. She was well known for her kindness to animals, having presided over the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Lastly, as a patriot she wore an actual hat, that of honorary colonel of the 160th Infantry, 7th Regiment of the California National Guard. She was also a talented horsewoman, mother, seamstress, poet, and an excellent cook. She truly was a Renaissance woman.

Anita Baldwin died on October 25, 1939 at the age of 65.

In this photograph, Anita Baldwin is seated on a camel in front of the Great Sphinx and a pyramid in Giza near Cairo, Egypt, circa 1920-1926. She is wearing a very elegant black dress, hat and veil. Her business manager Ray Knisley accompanied her on the other camel. Three local camel handlers dressed in native garb assisted them. The Great Sphinx was built by Egyptians about 4,500 years ago. Later sand removal would reveal that Anita Baldwin was sitting above the extended paws of the Great Sphinx.  


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