Whittier State School/Fred C. Nelles School for Boys – Whittier CA


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) carried out improvements on the grounds of the Whittier State School for Boys (renamed the Fred C. Nelles School for Boys in 1941).

“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 were in residence from then until the school’s closure in 2004. Renamed ‘Fred C. Nelles School for Boys’ in 1941 (‘For Boys’ was dropped around 1970). This school was in continuous operation serving the needs of juvenile offenders from 1891 until closing in 2004.”

In 1983, the site was designated California State Historical Landmark Number 947. Three of the most important school buildings from the Nelles-era campus improvements are preserved from the historic period: the Administration Building, the Superintendent’s Residence, and the Assistant Superintendent’s Residence.

In 1937, Frederick Potter completed a mural at the school with funding from the Federal Art Project (FAP).

Costs below are for the ground improvements only.

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s
9278 2560 11838

Source notes

Connolly, Donald H. and G. I. Farman. Report of Accomplishment of the Operations Division. Works Progress Administration, Southern California. January 1, 1939.

The Fred C. Nelles School

"Mural Decorations - Completed and in Progress - by Federal Art Project in Northern Southern California (April 1, 1937)," Marjery Hoffman Smith AAA Reel, www.wpamurals.org/CA37art.pdf

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

11850 E Whittier Blvd
Whittier, CA 90606

Coordinates: 33.9754, -118.0499

5 comments on “Whittier State School/Fred C. Nelles School for Boys – Whittier CA

  1. D Adkins

    There is a photo, in the Los Angeles, Public Library collection, of a painting of some cowboys herding some wild horses. March 1939 labeled Whittier State School if you are interested.

    • Thanks for the tip. We’ll follow up on that, if you can tell us where you found/saw the photo? Is it something on display or in a collection you were studying?
      R. Walker

  2. wesley bowers

    I worked there from 1965 to 1968. our title was that of group supervisor and in effect like today’s correctional officer.

  3. David G. Wallace

    My Dad, Ted Alan Wallace went to school there in the 1950’s, pretty cool place for film making now and it is safe to say my dad was a rebel and got into lots of trouble back in the day!!! Lol I still love him though! 🙂

  4. Robert C. Williams, Jr.

    Between 1964 and June 18, 1966, I was a ward of the state of California. I remember the names of counselors, teachers, and other students. I want to connect with former students, teachers, coaches, and counselors.

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Your email address will not be published.