The Alvord Unified School District has an interesting history full of facts and events leading up to today. In the 1880’s, an earlier school district, called La Sierra, served families along the southeasterly side of the river until the courts ruled the homestead claims to be part of the land grant rancho and the settlers were forced to move. The Magnolia School District opened in 1882 and was located in the Arlington business district. On February 5, 1896, they opened a second school site, named Alvord, in conjunction with the city’s proposed plans for the new “Alvord Townsite”. However, when the City of Riverside filed their City Charter in 1907, the “Townsite of Alvord” was not recognized. Perhaps to appease the Alvord area citizens, on July 1, 1908, the Riverside County Board of Trustees established the Alvord School District which included much of the Magnolia School District area as well as the La Sierra Sepulveda Rancho. In December of 1908, a separatist sentiment had already started growing in the Alvord area, stirred by the non-existence of the long-awaited “Townsite of Alvord”. Once the voters in the Alvord area became aware of the city’s plans to combine the four lower school districts into one large school district, this ultimately resulted in the Alvord area officially separating from the City of Riverside. This official separation occurred when the citizens, although associated with the City of Riverside since 1883, chose to vote themselves, along with the Alvord School District, out of the city limits in December of 1908. The overlooked “Town of Alvord ” was determined to make it alone and this made a strong statement of their independence from the City of Riverside.
Over the years, as we grew, several distinct areas developed a history all their own:
Arlington dates back to the original 1876 subdivision plans of the Riverside Land and Irrigating Co., owned by Samuel C. Evans and William Sayward.
Mr. Evans reserved a space for the “ Township of Alvord ” on the original Deed of Conveyance and was the first Mayor of Riverside serving from 1907-1911.
One of the larger areas in our district began around World War II. The federal government purchased 1,239 acres from Willits J. Hole’s heirs in 1942 and set up Camp Anza, a disembarkation facility which became a city in its own right. While stays were short, sometimes up to 20,000 people lived there at any given time. Closed in 1946, the buildings and land were sold to a civilian developer, who laid out a subdivision based on the Army’s streets. Eventually, the new community adopted a blended version of Arlington and Anza, renaming the area “Arlanza”. Due to the growth, Arlanza Elementary was opened in 1956.
The Hole Mansion, built by Mr. Hole beginning in 1913, is the oldest known historic structure in the area. Mr. Hole acquired the 10,000-acre rancho in 1909 and his home was designed by Arthur Benton, a primary architect of the Mission Inn. Hole Avenue is named after this man.
As our growth continued, the state encouraged the district to reorganize and combine into a “unified” district for more efficient management. Under this plan, voters established the new Alvord Unified School District in 1960. At that time, our new “unified” district took over responsibility for its own high school program. We converted a former junior high school into Norte Vista High School and introduced a new grouping of grades 6-8, which was called intermediate rather than junior high school. This had the effect of restoring the high school to the traditional four-year status.
The La Sierra annexation in 1964 brought all of the Alvord Unified School District back into the city limits and for the first time since the 1907 charter, the city area had more than one school administration: Riverside Unified, and Alvord Unified School District. This time there was no move to re-combine them.
The original elementary school site is now the home of Alvord Continuation High School and is our oldest school facility. This one small school served as the starting point for the unprecedented growth of our district. Our humble beginning has flourished into a total of twenty-three schools and three service centers, all of which have greatly enhanced our growing community over the years.
Acknowledgements for History
Many thanks to Lee Gustafson, a historian who guided us to the path of our district’s history, through a railroad siding named “Alvord”
Historical articles researched and written by Tamara Torres
Thanks also to the knowledgeable librarians at the Riverside Main Library, the historical materials, reference papers, newspaper articles and the many writers who took the time to share their knowledge…
“ Southern California Railway Time Table No. 5”
By Southern California Railway Employee Timetable 1890
“Pacific Electric Corporate History 1885 – 1911”
By Orange Empire Railway Museum
“Pacific Electric Railway Names and Locations of Stops, Cross Streets and Important Points of Interest”
By O.A. Smith, Passenger Traffic Manager
“Riverside County, California, Place Names Their Origins and Their Stories”
By Jane Davies Gunther 1984
“Landmarks of Riverside and the Stories Behind Them”
By Tom Patterson 1964
“Along the Old Roads A History of the Portion of Southern California that became Riverside County 1772 – 1893”
By Steve Lech
“A Colony for California Riverside ’s First Hundred Years”
By Tom Patterson 1971
“Online Exhibit of the Riverside Municipal Museum ”
Proposed Master Plan