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A neighborhood's hidden history

August 18, 2008 |  1:56 pm


Hermon is one of those woodsy, hilly northeast L.A. neighborhoods that has seen a major rebirth over the last decade. But Sam Byker reports in The Times' Home section that Hermon was, until the 1960s, centered around a long-forgotten college:

The small valley and its chaparral-covered hillsides were cut off from nearby Los Angeles and Pasadena for much of the year. A wintertime trip downtown required fording the Arroyo on foot. The land's owner, Ralph Rogers, gave up on finding a buyer in 1903 and donated the property to a group of Free Methodists, conservative Christians who cared little about its isolation. They established a school on the land and named it after the biblical Mt. Hermon at the headwaters of the River Jordan. The school evolved into Los Angeles Pacific College, and modest homes sprang up around it to house professors, students and other Free Methodists. Hermon merged with Los Angeles in 1912 and for decades remained a quiet, pious place. But everything changed in 1965. The college, struggling financially, merged with a rival to become Azusa Pacific University, and the Hermon campus closed. Teachers and students moved out.