Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fred Nelles Reform School

Los Angeles County, May 25, 1995

At the time of this visit in 1995, the facility was still open, but due to a lack of funding and shifts in corrections philosophy, the last boy walked out in 2004 after a 113 year run. So today, a drive down Whittier Blvd. will take you past the 74 acre site sporting a chain link fence and overgrown landscaping as it sits in limbo with the historical status that you can’t simply tear it down, while townsfolk don’t what it to become a prison again.

OAC photo - about 1895

The original concept was to truly reform the kids, and it had a reputation for excellent training in the trades and music, but along the way, a 'boot camp' model was adopted and it simply became a big house for little people.

cir. 1900

Since closing, the place has become a favorite haunt for fans of the haunted, and who can blame them, for with ongoing investigations of bodies secretly buried and abuse, etc., there’s lots to explore. It has also become a popular location for the film industry with ‘Blow’ ‘Red State’ and the series ‘Prison Break’ being filmed there, along with many others.


cir. 1900

NO. 947 REFORM SCHOOL FOR JUVENILE OFFENDERS (FRED C. NELLES SCHOOL) - The March 11, 1889 Act of the California Legislature authorized the establishment of a school for juvenile offenders. Dedication and laying of cornerstone was done by Governor R. W. Waterman on February 12, 1890. Officially opened as 'Whittier State School' for boys and girls on July 1, 1891. Girls were transferred in 1916 and only boys have been in residence since that time. Renamed 'Fred C. Nelles School for Boys' in 1941 ('For Boys' was  dropped around 1970). This school has been in continuous operation serving the needs of juvenile offenders since 1891.
Location: Department of the Youth Authority entrance, 11850 E Whittier Blvd, Whittier
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: EL MONTE
Google maps: 33.979066,-118.049474

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