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A Moment in Monrovia History: E. F. Spence, One of Monrovia's Founders

E.F. Spence, one of the founders of the City of Monrovia. He, along with J.D. Bicknell and J.F. Crank purchased land from E.J. Baldwin and with W.N. Monroe, founded the original townsite of Monrovia on their land. He was also an organizer of the Granite Bank and of the San Gabriel Valley Rapid Transit Railroad. He and Bicknell created a $10,048 fund to build the first school by donating profits from the sale of their lots to the school fund. In 1890 they opened a "Ladies College" at The Oaks and funded its first year of operation. He lived in Monrovia from 1887-1892. The photo has his signature, "Yours Fraternally, E.F. Spence.". From the Myron Hotchkiss collection. See full details here.

For more historic photos and papers, see the Monrovia Historical Society’s complete Legacy Project collection here. Learn more about the Monrovia Historical Society here.

- Brad Haugaard


  1. I think his role in founding Monrovia is highly over-stated. He was Mayor of Los Angeles, and founded USC. He also began the movement that started the Mount Wilson Observatory. Wikipedia lists all these accomplishments, then alludes to his involvement in Monrovia with this line, "He held interest in other banks as well, and owned property in Whittier and Monrovia, California."

  2. While he built an impressive home on a prominent hilltop, it was never his residence. He never moved from LA. I agree his contributions to the first school building and women's college were significant. Yet he passed away in the Los Angeles home in 1892 and his widow continued to live there for her remaining life. That home was on 837 Burlington Ave. in Los Angeles. There is still a fairly large mansion at 836 Burlington remaining today. Also, when he died he was chairman of the Republican National Committee, a very prominent political position, which would be hard to fulfill from the fledgling town of Monrovia. Just my thoughts.