Sierra Madre, California

Sierra Madre, incorporated in 1907, is a small city located in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County just below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest which is to the north. Altadena and Pasadena are to the west. Arcadia is to the south and east. Monrovia is directly to the east. Sierra Madre has forty-eight properties listed on its designated historical properties list including the Old North Church built in 1890. The city is known for its annual Wisteria Festival which celebrates its one - acre Chinese wisteria vine which was planted in the 1890s. It is the largest flowering plant in the world.


Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society

The Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society, founded in 1931, collects and preserves local history materials, including an extensive collection of historical photos, and makes that history available to the public through its museums, informational events, and publications. The non-profit, volunteer organization has an extensive website that provides the public with exceptional information. Memberships are available and donations are always welcome.


Chantry Flat

Chantry Flat is a designated picnic and recreation area in the Angeles National Forest just north of Arcadia and Sierra Madre. Chantry Flat Is the starting point for several historic trails into the San Gabriel Mountains, including the 25.5 mile Gabrielino Trail.


Rancho Santa Anita

Rancho Santa Anita was a 13,319-acre Mexican Land Grant made in 1845 by Governor Pio Pico. The land grant included part of the present-day cities of Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, and San Marino. A 127-acre section of the rancho was preserved as the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden which is administered by Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation.

Timeline of Sierra Madre


1769: The first Spanish settlers arrive in the San Gabriel Valley, encountering an estimated 5,000 Tongva Indians living in 31 villages.

1771: Mission San Gabriel Arcangel is founded in modern-day Montebello. Many Tongvas were assimilated into mission culture, and the tribe became known as the Gabrielinos.

1864: Benjamin (Don Benito) Wilson builds the Mount Wilson Trail.

1881: Nathaniel Carter purchases the original 1103 acres that comprise Sierra Madre - 845 from "Lucky" Baldwin; 108 from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company; and 150 from Levi Richardson.

1882: The first schoolhouse 'is built: Sierra Madre's first public building.

1882: Sierra Madre Water Company files articles of incorporation as a mutual, non-profit organization.

1885: A new schoolhouse is built at what is now Kersting Court.

1885: The Sierra Madre Cigar Factory is established.

1886: The Episcopalian Church of the Ascension is built.

1886: The Sierra Madre Library established.

1887: Pinney House is built on North Lima Street.

1887: Town Hall is constructed. It houses the original post office, the town's first grocery store, and Emile Deutsch's cigar factory. It also serves as a meeting place for several number of religious groups.

1887: The first library building is completed.

1888: The Santa Anita railroad station is built.

1888: Episcopalian Church of the Ascension is rebuilt after the original building is destroyed. It is later registered as a National Landmark in 1971.

1888: Publication of The Vista begins, Sierra Madre's first newspaper.

1890: The original Congregational Church building is completed.

1894: Mrs. Brugman purchases the now famous, "Wistaria Vine" from a Monrovia nursery for seventy-five cents.

1898: The Sturtevant Camp opens to the public.

1900: The first street signs are erected, marking 18 streets.

1904: Nathaniel Carter dies at age 64 .

1905: Jewish families in Sierra Madre form Temple Beth Israel, later to become the Foothill Jewish Community Center.

1906: The Pacific Electric Railway begins Red Car passenger service.

1906: Located at the mouth of the Little Santa Anita Canyon, Carter's Camp opens.

1906: The first electric lights in Sierra Madre are installed by Edison Electric Company.

1906: The first installment of Sierra Madre News is issued, printed in the home of Mr. R. T. Cowles.

1906: The first telephones are installed by the Home Telephone Company of Monrovia.

1907: Baldwin Avenue is paved.

1907: The first citywide election is held; citizens vote 71-25 to officially incorporate Sierra Madre, population 500.

1907: Sierra Madre becomes incorporated as a California city. Charles Worthington Jones serves as first mayor.

1908: Hoegee's Camp opens.

1910: Construction of the first chapel of SI. Rita's parish, founded by Father Barth in 1908, is completed.

1910: New York filmmaker D. W. Griffith, of the American Biograph Moving Picture Co. begins producing motion pictures in Sierra Madre.

1913: Carter's Camp is sold and subdivided.

1914: After a long legal battle, the city acquires title to all water rights, lands, and distributing systems of the Baldwin Estate and the Sierra Madre Water Company.

1916: Fern Lodge opens.

1917: Sierra Madre makes its first entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade.

1918: The Wistaria grounds open for public viewing. The first Wistaria Fair sponsored by the Sierra Madre Chapter of the American Red Cross.

1921: A disastrous fire prompts the official organization of the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department.

1920: The first general hospital opens by Dr. George Groth and Dr. Mary Growth.

1921: Building begins on the First Church takes place.

1922: Dedication of Bethany Temple, the domed cobblestone church designed and built by nearly blind Louis D. Corneulle.

1922: St. Rita's Catholic Church parochial school opens.

1924: Nazarene Church purchases the original Congregational Church property and begins services.

1925: Sierra Madre Japanese Language School opens.

1928: The first official City Hall building formally opens.

1928: The Los Angeles Country Flood Control District completes Canyon Dam.

1928: The new Congregational Church structure is completed. The Romanesque Revival building was designed by Marsh, Smith, & Powell.

1928: Gordon MacMillan is inaugurated as the first Chief of Police, beginning the city's police system.

1928: The Sierra Madre Kiwanis Club is established.

1931: Mater Dolorosa Monastery's first permanent structure is built.

1931: The first meeting of the Sierra Madre Historical Society takes place, in conjunction with the city's fiftieth anniversary celebration.

1936: The city officially changes the name of Central Avenue to Sierra Madre Blvd.

1938: The Sierra Madre Arts Guild is established.

1942: All Japanese of Japanese descent are required to relocate to the assembly center at Tulare on order of President Franklin Roosevelt. They are incarcerated until the and of the war.

1944: Mama Pete's Nursery School opens at 71 Suffolk Ave.

1944: Sierra Madre Civic Club is founded.

1946: Sierra Madre Lion's Club is organized.

1947: Episcopal Church of the Ascension starts a parish school.

1949: New retreat house is built and dedicated at Mater Dolorosa Monastery.

1949: First Pioneer Days Parade.

1950: Annals of Early Sierra Madre book is published by the Sierra Madre Historical Society.

1950: The last Pacific Electric train leaves from Sierra Madre.

1951: The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is established.

1953: The Sierra Madre United Methodist Church is established.

1954: Sierra Madre Rose Float Association is founded.

1961: Sierra Madre joins the Pasadena Unified School District.

1964: A permanent post office building constructed, after moving from seven different locations since 1882.

1966: Temple Beth Israel closes its Sierra Madre site and joins with the Foothill Jewish Temple-Center, Arcadia.

1967: The Sierra Madre Historical Society begins sponsoring annual bus tours of the town's historical buildings.

1967: Sierra Madre becomes the first city in Southern California to own a wilderness preserve.

1969: The Sierra Madre City Council, for the purpose of "defining cultural and aesthetic landmarks throughout the City of Sierra Madre and to recommend how such landmarks be preserved establishes The Cultural Heritage Committee.

1969: Community Recreation Center is dedicated.

1972: The Richardson House restoration project begins.

1973: The Sierra Madre Church of Christ, Scientist votes to disband. The property is subsequently purchased and occupied by the Gloria Dei Evangelical Lutheran Church.

1974: The dedication of Bell Tower takes place Court. The bell tower houses the school bell from the original 1885 schoolhouse.

1975: The newly restored Richardson House opens for tours.

1976: The Sierra Madre Historical Society publishes a pictorial history book titled Sierra Madre Vistas.

1976: A Bicentennial time capsule is buried beneath the flagpole at the new Fire and Police Department Facility.

1979: The Sierra Madre historical 56-patch quilt, sponsored by the library and is completed to celebrate the nation's bicentennial.

1980: The Dedication of Senior Citizens' Center Memorial Park House place.

1981: Sierra Madre celebrates the centennial of its founding.

1999: The Weeping Wall Veterans' Memorial, designed by Lew Watanabe, is dedicated in Memorial Park.

2001: A plaque honoring fallen firefighters from 9/11 is installed at the fire station.

2003: MTA begins operation of the Gold line from Union Station to Sierra Madre Villa. Sierra Madre expands its local transit service as part of the new operation.

2007: Sierra Madre celebrates the centennial of its incorporation as a California city. Sierra Madre wins All-America City Award, given by the National Civic League.

2007: Paramedic service begins.

2007: A refurbished World War I cannon is dedicated in Memorial Park.

2008: Goldberg Park is dedicated. It is the City's first new park in over thirty years.

2008: The Mt. Wilson Trail Race centennial celebration takes place.

2009: The Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society publishes Southern California Story: Seeking the Better Life in Sierra Madre by Michele Zack. The history book receives an Award of Merit from the American Association of State & Local History and an American Design Award.

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