News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

El Monte Museum

by Joe Castillo

Unique Artifacts  ….

  There are a number of interesting museum in the San Gabriel Valley but the El Monte Historical Association is one of the more unique museums. On my last  visit to the museum I took the time to note some of the more unique items in their collection. Besides having a vintage World War II era Rolls Royce used by Sir Winston Churchill, the museum is filled with artifacts from the early years of El Monte. A photograph of the first public school built in Southern California and located in El Monte is on display. The Southern California Christian Home, originally built in 1950 as a 3-story wooden frame house, was located on Mission Drive in the present city of Rosemead. The first Protestant Church in Southern California was also built in El Monte in 1853, and a photograph of the church is located in the museum. It was also interesting to read the old newspapers on display. The El Monte Herald dated August 30, 1935 contained an advertisement from the El Monte Motor Company and Ford dealer located at 100 W. Main Street and had a telephone number of 105. On sale was a 1932 Chevrolet DeLuxe Coupe $355, a 1929 Buick Master Coupe $195 and a 1931 Chevrolet Roadster Rambler $275, all bargains for that day. In the 1960’s, the State of California and the Department of Motor Vehicles issued Horseless Carriage Id cards. The card on display in the museum was once issued to Curtis Hoyt, who was President of El Monte Motor Company until 1985. El Monte is known as the ‘End of the Trail’ and the terminus of several trails mostly initiated from Santa Fe, New Mexico ended here. The trails were known as the ‘Old Spanish Trail’ and the ‘Gila Southern Route’.  Before email there was a different method of mail called ‘V-mail’, which World War II enlisted men used for sending mail back to their families. A replica of the first single ‘star’ bear flag declaring California to be a free and sovereign state is on display in the museum  with the original state flag located in the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. Juan Bautista Alvarado raised the flag on November 6, 1836. Alvarado was joined by 100 other rebels in declaring California independent and he became President of the new state. On September 9, 1850, California was finally admitted to the United States as the 31st state of the Union. As a result of his actions in leading a revolt against Mexican rule nearly a decade before the ‘Bear Flag’ revolt, the name Alvarado is embedded throughout Southern California history.  The El Monte Historical Museum is located on Tyler Avenue, next to El Monte High School and is open 5 day a week from 11- 4 PM.

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