Fred C. Nelles School Timeline


Below is a timeline of the events of the Fred C. Nelles School and the history of Whittier in relation to the school.

1887: City of Whittier

Quaker City Established

Named after founders favorite poet, John Greenleaf Whittier.

1888: City of Whittier

Southern Pacific Railroad Completes First Line To City

1889-1893: City of Whittier

Bailey Street School, Whittier Academy, and Friends College Open

1890: Nelles Site

Cornerstone Dedication Ceremony

Whittier State Reformatory

1891: Nelles Site

State Reform School For Juvenile Offenders

Opens Co-Ed July 1, 1891

1892–1920: City of Whittier

Oil Industry Develops

Produced 96,000 barrels of oil per month by 1917.

1891–1893: Nelles Site

Brief Name Change

The school briefly changes its name to Whittier School of Trades and Agriculture. The Trustees and Superintendent wanted to change the name to Whittier School of Trades and Agriculture because they objected to the word Reform in the name. The change was proposed but not approved by the Legislature in 1891.

1893: Nelles Site

Name Changed to Whittier State School

1898: City of Whittier

The City of Whittier Becomes Incorporated

1901: City of Whittier

First Electric Lights in Whittier Installed at the State School

1903: City of Whittier

Pacific Electric Red Car Arrives

1910: City of Whittier

City Band Concerts Held Annually in Central Park

1912: Nelles Site

A Superintendent Is Hired

Fred C Nelles, a Practical Idealist and Reformer, is hired as the school's Superintendent.

1913: Nelles Site

Administration Building

The original Administration building is condemned in 1913.

1915: City of Whittier

A Special Visit

Whittier is visited by Edison, Ford, and Firestone.

1916: Nelles Site

Girls moved to the Ventura Facility

1916: Nelles Site

The Castle

The Castle is demolished in 1916, and the remaining chapel is demolished in 1920.

1920: Nelles Site

Superintendent's Residence Built

1927: Nelles Site

Fred C. Nelles

Fred C. Nelles dies at the age of 51.

1929: Nelles Site

A New Administration Building

The existing Administration Building is built in 1929.

1932: City of Whittier

Albert Einstein Speaks at Whittier High School

Einstein speaks about arms limitations.

1933: City of Whittier

Former President and Mrs. Hoover Visit Whittier School and the State School

The former First Lady was raised in Whittier.

1933: Nelles Site

A New Superintendent

Judge Milne hired as the new Superintendent ostensibly to continue the reform Nelles began. However, by the end of the 1930s, psychological, physical and sexual abuse of the wards was rampant.

1939: Nelles Site

First Ward Suicide

The suicides of Benny Moreno in 1939 and Edward Leiva in 1940 sparked state and national scrutiny of the Whittier State School and juvenile reform in general. California responds by firing Milne and passing the Youth Corrections Authority Act in 1941.

1941: Nelles Site

School's Name Changed

The name of the school is changed to Fred C. Nelles School for Boys. The “for Boys” part was dropped around 1970.

1943: Nelles Site

California Youth Authority Assumes Control of Fred C. Nelles School

1950's: Nelles Site

Cottages Constructed

Barracks-style cottages are constructed in the late 1950's.

1950's: City of Whittier

Business Slowly Declines in Uptown Whittier

1952: Nelles Site

Merle Haggard

Country musicisan Merle Haggard is sent to Fred C. Nelles School, but escapes in 1952.

1955: City of Whittier

Dedication of New City Hall

1959: City of Whittier

New Hospital Opening

The Presbyterian Inter-Community Hospital opens in 1959.

1960: Nelles Site

Behavior Modification Treatments Instituted

1960's: Nelles Site

All Remaining English-Style Cottages Razed

1968: City of Whittier

President Richard Nixon

Former President, Richard Nixon, serves on Whittier College Board of Trustees until his election as President of the United States.

1973: Nelles Site

Nancy Reagan

Wife of Governor of California visits with wards and foster grandparents.

1983: City of Whittier

The Whittier Museum is Established

1984: City of Whittier

City Band Concerts Resume in Central Park

1987: City of Whittier

Whittier Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

Festivities and parades throughout the entire year.

1987: City of Whittier

Earthquake Measures 5.9

The earthquake damages many historic Whittier structures.

1987: Nelles Site

Earthquake Clean Up

Wards work hundreds of hours to clean up the earthquake damage done to the community.

1987: Nelles Site

Prison-Like Structure Built

The two adjoining units were named after Presidents Carter and Nixon and were the most secure facilities at Nelles. The prison provided 270° visibility for security staff.

1990: Nelles Site

School Changes Names

The name of the school is changed to Fred C. Nelles Correctional Facility.

2004: Nelles Site

Youth Correctional Facility Closes

The last ward leaves Fred C. Nelles Correctional Facility May 27, 2004.