A historical snapshot of D Street
by Rachel Sandoval
photo illustration by Hunter Cole
La Verne was an agricultural town in the mid 1920s, with the economics of the area dependent on the citrus industry. Those pre-depression days were prosperous ones for La Verne’s businesses since the citrus industry was robust. La Verne was flagged with its new name (it was known as Lordsburg until 1917). The real estate offices on D Street were frequented with prospective new residents.
Packing houses were clustered south of the town center, adjacent to the train tracks. La Verne was known as having the finest oranges in the region, with boxes shipped to the East Coast and even to Europe. Hardworking families tended to the citrus groves that spread out in all directions from city center to the foothills like a green ocean.
When this original picture was taken at the intersection of D and Third streets looking north, Model T’s, with their distinctive wood spoked wheels, were visible on D Street. While it was not unusual to see a horse drawn buggy on the street, a Model T registered status for its owner. In 1925, the “T” cost $290. If the owner opted for an electric starter instead of a hand crank, the cost increased by $65.
The intersection of D and Third streets has gone through change as La Verne evolved. La Verne was once a self-contained town, with one stop shopping for ranch families. “Traditional” is the word that Galen Beery, president of the La Verne Historical Society, uses to describe the city of La Verne. Like a morphing time machine, Photography Editor Hunter Cole has merged the 1920s past with 2014 present, showing that while the store names have changed, the buildings still anchor the city in its citrus roots.
La Verne historian Bill Lemon says the population of La Verne at the time of this photo he dates between 1924 to 1931 would have been as high as 2,869, (the 1930 census). In 1920, it was 1,698. Lemon says that the addresses changed in 1927, and “some of the businesses would have had two addresses during this period.” He narrates the picture’s west (left) side, south to north: “First National Bank of La Verne, Bob’s Grocery, Bobeteria, La Verne Feed and Fuel Store, Page Department Store, Haines Barber Shop, Ebersole Bros. Furniture (1924) or La Verne Furniture and Hardware (1925-1927) or Safeway/La Verne Meat Market (starting 1928). A fruit stand was operated by a lady at the Southwest corner of 4th Street [Bonita Avenue].”
On the east side, starting at D and Third streets going north (see picture on page 3), Lemon’s historical research shows rapid change in La Verne’s shops. “In 1924, there were two businesses at the corner address: The La Verne Sweet Shop and The L, a stationery store. In 1925, the Sweet Shop, renamed “Wright On The Corner,” expanded to take up both sides of the building. That business remained until at least 1929. The next business at that address was the Chocolate Tavern, a café (1930-1931). The Lions Club met there every Tuesday noon. Next came Blocher’s Emporium (1923-1924) or Tremble’s Dry Goods (1924-1925) or Belsley’s Variety Store (1926-1929) or Belcher’s Shoe Store (starting in 1930); then came a store housing a real estate office operated by J. S. McClellan until 1931. A hardware store occupied the next building, followed by an electric store and a meat market, located where the Village Inn is now. Above, were rooms for rent as now. Across the alley were the Huberty Bakery, another real estate office, Hase Jewelry (1924) or McClellan Men’s Store and Cleaners (starting in 1924). A house stood on the southeast corner of 4th Street [Bonita Avenue], which had rented rooms until at least 1930.”