Route 66 in La Verne, California
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, level and in another 35 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 La Verne. The route runs straight through the middle of town which incorporated in 1887 as Lordsburg by land speculator, Wilson Lord. The name changed after Wilson Lord died. This photo scrapbook will take you down Route 66 starting on the east end of La Verne to the west end of the city.
Route 66 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. La Verne has decided not to actively commemorate Route 66 so you will not see many signs like other cities along the route. La Verne has pretty much cleared the old and the road looks later 20th century. There is an Old Town La Verne, which is along D Street about a mile from Foothill. There you will see turn of the century buildings and commemoration of the old orange groves.
Two blocks south of Foothill on D St. is the United Medodist Church, site of the closing scene of The Graduate.
Old Town La Verne 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. One aspect of La Verne that many enjoy is the political stability of the city.
Church on D St. in The Graduate
Eat and Places to See While Driving Through La Verne
Route 66 starts in La Verne at Williams Ave. on the east to Baseline on the west, near the spot where the stainless steel restaurant is.
At Gary and Foothill past the Jack in the Box is the oldest looking building in the area on Foothill. Also is a good view of the San Gabriel Mountains with the La Verne "L".
As you travel down Foothill Blvd. look for this original native California Live Oak tree. Before the citrus groves this tree dominated the La Verne area.
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.
The property was divided and sold in the sixties but this building remains. The original Tom's Cafe stained glass windows were retained for this popular Mexican eatery established in the sixties.
A photo appearing in the local newspaper shows a double window where the side door is now. The window invited travelers in to a comfortable family eatery. The original family farmhouse is north on Williams Ave.
The California Live Oak pictured above is behind the La Paloma sign.
The city has preserved a small orange grove at Heritage Park. A California live oak that is endemic to the area is there. A creek runs through the park. It is retained by concrete. Orange groves would have been seen from Foothill all the way to Golden Hills Rd and beyond. The foothills are tract homes now, but the occassional grove house can still be spotted.
Postcards From the PastClick thumbnail to view full-size
The DeWenter Mansion, built in the 40s, 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 southside 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 line the north side of the house. The front of the house faces the San Gabriel Mountains. The high windows you see on the left is the beautiful living room. The two small windows on the second story seen at the corner of the house is 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 circles the proptery. 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 Hertiage Park, as well. The mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places and owned by a private resident.
West End of La Verne
Half mile west of the Mansion is a house still standing from the early 20th century. It is 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.
Department of Water of Power
In the 20's and 30's this was orange grove country. By the 40's the trees started to fade and they were being bulldozed for tract homes.
Just south of the boulevard a half mile on Moreno, in the year 1940, brought the opening of a water processing plant belonging to the Department of Water and Power. This concrete structure is an Art Deco gem and is still processing water for the area. Designed by Daniel Elliot of reinforced concrete it is a substation of a 392 mile aqueduct.
West end of La Verne, CA. Route 66. Looks pretty much like the East end. The city has lined the whole route with trees.
Stainless Steel Restaurant
At the western border is the stainless steel Denny's Restaurant with a Route 66 sign. Around 2014 this diner has become a D's Restaurant with Greek inspired American menu items. It has been immensely popular since.
A view of the mountains is behind it. The peak behind the first ridge is Mt. Baldy. A glimpse of the old route visible for a few yards. The contractor reused the very tall palms from the shuttered drive-in fast food place that used to be on 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.
How About You
Have you enjoyed traveling on Route 66?
One of Ten Best Cities for Families
For the year 2010 La Verne, CA was picked 10 Best Towns for Families: 2010, by Family Circle Magazine.
We are very proud of our town and excited about this wonderful designation.
© 2009 Sherry Venegas