Category: 1934 – 1939, Whittier Art Gallery

Looking Back, 1934 – 1939

The first Whittier Art Gallery was located in a donated space on Philadelphia Street in Whittierโ€™s business district. The gallery was located in a large downstairs room, and the Art Association provided art classes in several upstairs studio rooms.

Note: Some buildings in Whittierโ€™s business district were empty (not being rented), due to the Great Depression.

Pio Pico Mansion

When the Whittier Art Association formed,ย  a plan was announced that the Pio Pico Mansion may become the permanent home of the Whittier Art Gallery. The mansionโ€™s spacious rooms would have accommodated โ€œlarge visiting exhibitsโ€. Although the plan was supported by the Whittier Chamberย of Commerce and the Whittier Womanโ€™s Club, it did not succeed.ย 

Citrus Orchards of Orange County

Whittier was a rural community, and the land to the East and South of Whittierโ€™s business district was blanketed
with acres of orange, walnut, lemon, and avocado orchards. The roads between Whittier and Laguna Beach,
passed by vast acres of orchardsย and crops in Orange County.

1934 June 1, ๐™’๐™๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™š๐™ง ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ:

Laguna Beach Art Association past president, William Griffith, spoke at the galleryโ€™s open meeting. โ€œHe
encouraged the members of the Whittier [Art] Association in the belief that Whittier too, can be made an
important art and cultural centerโ€.ย  He went on to say, โ€œI wish you all the luck in the world, and Laguna will do everything possible to help youโ€.

1934 July 27, ๐™Ž๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ:

The South Coast News, announces that Whittier has organized an Art Association โ€œfor the whole surrounding community between Los Angeles and Laguna Beachโ€. The Association is sponsoring art classes in water color landscape by Mabel George Haig; life drawing by Eleanor Colburn, sculpture by Ruth Peabody, and pottery by
pupils of Glen Lukens.

Pacific Electric Railway

The Pacific Electric Railway was a major form of transportation for Southern Californiaย from about 1915 to the late 1930s.ย The first Whittier Art Gallery located in Whittierโ€™sย businessย  district, was a short distance from the Pacific Electric Railway tracks.ย Travel toย the gallery from Los Angeles was convenient and inexpensive during the time beforeย busses became popular.ย ย The tracksย in this Uptown section of Whittier were taken up inย 1938, and the metal was given to the War effort.

1934 August 20, ๐™‡๐™ค๐™จ ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™ก๐™š๐™จ ๐™๐™ž๐™ข๐™š๐™จ:

The Los Angeles Times Newspaper announces that the writing of the late Anna Hills, โ€œHow to Judge Picturesโ€,
will be read at a meeting of the Whittier Art Association.ย  Anna Hills was one of the cofounders of the
Laguna Beach Art Center and Gallery.

Note: The correct title of the document is โ€œHow to Judge a Pictureโ€, written by Anna Hills for a talk she gave about two months before she passed away in 1930.

1938, Broadway School Postcard:

The Whittier Art Association lost their temporary Whittier Art Gallery space on Philadelphia Street. After several months, they open a new โ€œGallery at Pickering and Broadwayโ€ in Whittierโ€™s old Broadway School building.
The Broadway School was demolished six months after the WAA opened their gallery there. The WAA provided exhibits at the Whittier Womanโ€™s Club House until they constructed their own galley.

Gallery Construction Begins

December 6, 1938
The photo was taken on the sidewalk in front of the lot where construction would begin for the first unit of the Whittier art Center [Gallery].

Left to Right:ย  William Henry Harrison, architect, H.E. Harris, Fred Pease, donor,
Mabel George Haig, WAA president, Raymond Hunnicutt, contractor.

1938 December 6, ๐™’๐™๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™š๐™ง ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ:

Ground breaking exercises were held at 727 South Painter Avenue, attended by Art Association members and representatives of leading civic organizations. Mrs. Mryon Haig, president of the Whittier Art Association, accepted the deed of the property on which would be built the new home of the Whittier Art Center. She turned at least one shovel of dirt to speed up the actual building work.ย 
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย 
Note:ย  The galleryโ€™s original address of 727 So. Painter Ave. was changed to 8035 Painter Ave. in the 1960s.

1939 January 27, ๐™’๐™๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™š๐™ง ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ:

The Whittier Art Gallery was given warm support from the Whittier Woman’s Club, Jr. Woman’s Club,ย East Whittier Woman’s Club, the Business and Professional Woman’s Club, the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), and organizations in every school district, covering the entire community.ย  The town’s businessmen also contributed.