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Monday, May 7, 2012



Few San Fernando Valley residents remember Los Angeles Woodman Avenue Elementary School today. The school, determined unsafe for earthquakes, was demolished in 1960. Woodman Elementary not only served its Sherman Oaks neighborhood but also provided public education for the boys who lived in the nearby McKinley Home for Boys. It was located on the southwest corner of Woodman Avenue and Riverside Drive, opposite of Notre Dame High School. Made of un-reinforced brick, the building was determined in 1958 to be seismically unsafe. The property was sold, making way for the beginning of the Westfield Fashion Square Mall that dominates the area today.
Exteriors scenes of the popular motion picture, The Boy With Green Hair was filmed at Woodman Elementary School in 1948. The film made a star of a young Dean Stockwell. 


Gerald R. Fecht said...

This blog has switched its format, so I haven't figured out who to edit entries yet.
These great photographs are courtesy of Ms. Katie Schiff, who shared them at The Museum Space at the Westfield Fashion Square Mall.

Karl Gerber said...

I am ashamed I did not even hear of this school until a few years ago, but I am livid with my mother (who lived on Murietta near Riverside) for never telling me about this school. There are so many unanswered questions about this school that I put it in the category of the Hollywood Hills Country Club which is a true mind boggler for me (btw I live on the 9th hole). Question 1: When was it built? Question 2: Why was it there if Chandler existed by 1950-1952 (my mom went there and so did I), and Riverside Drive was built in 1942. Given these facts, I am thinking the school existed before either Riverside Drive or Chandler. The pictures look like 1930s construction or earlier for the main building. the wood structures look earlier than the 1930s. Third, in one of these pictures that was posted I am confident we are looking at houses that were demolished to build the 101 Freeway! Bottom line, we are in need of alumni recollections, pictures, and facts big time!

Karl Gerber, Los Angeles Historian, Author of 3 Books Set in the Eastern Valley, Ventura Boulevard building owner, Lawyer, and Resident of the area since 1977 for soon to be pictures of the Valle,y and a vintage nature

Unknown said...

Just happened to be doing a little spring cleaning and decided to Google my old elementary school, Woodman Ave, to see if anything new was on the net. Thought I would respond to your post even though its almost a year old.
My family moved to Sherman Oaks in 1955, and I attended Woodman until '59.
I believe it was part of the McKinley Home for Boys which occupied all the land west from Woodman to Hazeltine Ave. (Which didn't cross the river until the 101 freeway was built), and north from the river to Riverside Dr. My family rented a house on Stern Ave. for several years and then purchased one on Murietta. I also purchased a house on Murietta and lived there for a number of years. My neighbor was an original owner who moved in when the tract was first constructed in 1946 on land he said served as a pasture for the Boys Home. There was a vehicle tunnel under Riverside just west of Ranchito Ave. that was used to access the plot which was bounded on the west by Hazeltine, on the north by Magnolia, and and the east by Woodman, without having to cross the street. (It was rediscovered by accident during the construction of a pipeline on Rivereside drive some time in the 60's or 70's quite a surprise I think).

Robert e Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert e Lee said...

I was glad to see Karl posting said questions as my folks had always told me that entire area had been a dairy ranch in earlier times (south side of Riverside Dr bet. Woodman and Hazeltine). And we would've driven right past the Riverside/Woodman School going to Redeemer Lutheran each day at Riverside near Fulton? So this is all new to me. As to the McKinley Boys Home, wasn't that that large, beautiful old Mission-Style, brick building that covered most of a block beginning at Magnolia and Sepulveda and spreading east...with amazing old pines and some Valley Oaks on said property? It is now wall-to-wall development of condos and town homes and has been since mid-1970's! What I do remember was the other side of Hazeltine, on Riverside Dr. where the large bank has set since late 1970's. That was once heavily wooded with Eucalyptus trees to the river area and the Hathaway School sat in back. When the property was sold (for some $50,000-a lot even back then) it was moved to another location before development began...

Steve Davis said...

My name is Stephen Davis and I attended Woodman Avenue Elementary School from 1953 to 1959.
People that I recall at Woodman Avenue were Sue Starbird, Jill Starbird, Steve Schwan, Tadd Wolfe & Tory Wolfe (both orphans from McKinley Home, Craig Benike, Dan Dixon, Kit Riedel.
A fond memory I had was when I snuck a kiss from Sue Starbird under a desk I believe in fourth grade, and she told the teacher and class that embarrassed the
hell out of me.
Remember the May Day events on the playground. And do you recall those large Pepper Trees?
Recall the visits from Monte Montana and his horse for the school kids.
And that so wonderful large building.

Hal Weiner said...

I graduated Woodman Avenue School in spring of 1960 and have the class picture, showing the elaborate main entrance in the background. I'd be glad to upload it somewhere, if someone will tell me where to do that.
Hal Weiner

Harvey Decker said...

Tuesday October 4th Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium for the 7th and deciding game of the 1955 World Series. 2-0 Dodgers going into the last half of the ninth. Every kid I knew was chewing his baseball card gun into oblivion. Even though we were mostly west coast kids, still, you were either a Yankee or Dodger fan.

Steve Davis, you are right on. Even after more than six decades the smell of those gnarly old pepper trees and sounds of the playground still resonates and conjures up long ago memories. As I recall there were also a row of them on the south side of the playground in a dirt strip that was home to some fierce marble competition. Cats Eye, Steelies, Aggies, Puries would change hands many times at recess and lunch time. Kick Ball, Tether Ball, Hop Scotch, and Four Square made up the majority of play time.
Nate’s Candy store was located on the North West corner next to the Texaco service station. For not much change you get ten cent soda pop, penny treats and five cent candy bars. Abba Zaba, Big Hunk, Oh Henry, Baby Ruth, Hershey’s and tons more. At Halloween, wax black mustaches, red lips and buck teeth were available. Fun to wear and even better to chew.

To this very day when I hear the Irish Fight Song my mind races to the Notre Dame Highs School field. Friday night games were always fun and exciting times. And I got to stay out a little later. Go Irish!

There was a public swimming pool off Riverside Drive going west. It was biggest pool I had ever seen. It had two low and two medium spring boards. But it was the high platform that was the scariest to me. Looking up it did not look that high. It took all of one summer to muster up the nerve to make the ascent. From the platform you could see a zillion miles. You could even see the newly built Little League fields. What a rush to jump off.

Johnny Padres thru the last pitch to Elston Howard who ground out to Reese for the out. Brooklyn shut out the Yanks 2-0. Vince Scully help call that game. What a series!