Farnsworth Park – Altadena CA


Farnsworth Park is a Los Angeles County park established in Altadena, CA, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, 4 miles north of Pasadena in 1934. Its 15 acres contain covered and open picnic tables, barbecue pits, baseball diamonds, a basketball court, tennis (now pickle ball) courts, a bocce ball area and a children’s playground. The park’s northeast corner features its original 1934 recreation building and a wooden bench amphitheater added in 1938; both are still actively in use.

After serving first as a reforestation nursery run by the LA County Forestry Dept. from 1916 until 1929, the Altadena Citizens’ Association championed the construction of a public park and recreation center on the then 8-acre site. Association member and retired U.S. General Charles S. Farnsworth was the driving force behind the successful effort, leading to its dedication in his name in 1939. Construction of the park began in December 1933 and utilized 300 CWA workers for the core work, with youth from the CCC camp in Earl Canyon brought on for the elaborate hand-laid stonework of the park’s walls, as well as for the construction of the ranger’s residence, picnic tables, a garage, the business office, and stoves/barbecue pits. The park opened in 1934, along with the rustic-style Altadena Recreation Building (Charles Kyson, architect). In 1938, the WPA built a wood bench amphitheater on the slope behind the Recreation Building, which was renamed the William D. Davies Memorial Building in 1943, after a key collaborator of Gen. Farnsworth’s in the creation of the park.

Source notes

I live in Altadena and saw the WPA plaque dated 1938 upon discovering the park and its amphitheater in 2015. On the park's Wikipedia listing, I found the link to Farnsworth's 1996 National Register of Historic Places application (it indicates the Feb. 1997 approval/registration) -- it's a treasure trove of information: https://s3.amazonaws.com/NARAprodstorage/lz/electronic-records/rg-079/NPS_CA/97000027.pdf

Project originally submitted by Jessica Berman on May 12, 2023.

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Location Info

568 E. Mount Curve Ave.
Altadena, CA 91001

Coordinates: 34.20049, -118.13221

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