The Fred C. Nelles School
California State Historical Landmark: Number 947
The History of the Fred C. Nelles School
The former Fred C. Nelles School was the oldest school for juvenile offenders in the State of California. Originally named the Reform School for Juvenile Offenders when it opened on July 1, 1891, the name was subsequently changed to the Whittier State School in 1893.
In 1941 the name was changed again to the Fred C. Nelles School in memory of its Superintendent from 1912 to 1927. The institution remained in continuous operation for 113 years, from its opening in 1891 until its closure in 2004. In 1983, the Nelles School site was designated California State Historical Landmark Number 947.
A Look Back In Time
The school was originally organized around an imposing and substantial structure of brick and red sandstone known as The Castle, which held the living quarters, classrooms and administrative offices. In the early years, confinement, discipline, education and employment were the primary methods used for reforming the institution’s boy and girl population.
The children were educated in classrooms in The Castle, worked in the various maintenance and trade shops, and labored in the surrounding agricultural fields. The Castle was torn down in 1916 due to faulty construction.
The Fred C. Nelles Timeline
The history of the city of Whittier and the Fred C. Nelles School is without doubt intertwined. In fact, it has been argued that the Quaker colony established in Whittier would have failed if the school had not been built there.
In addition to the documentary video, we have compiled a complete library regarding the Fred C. Nelles School, including an interview with the Mayor of Whittier.