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School Background

The History of Woodland Hills Elementary School

The Woodland Hills Elementary School was built in the 1920s as a two room bungalow on San Miguel street by Woodland Hills founder Victor Girard. The school was known as Girard Elementary according to Harvey Parkinson, 65, who attended the school then.

 

The history of the school parallels the story of the town. Victor Girard, a former Persian-rug salesman who had a reputation for making a fast buck, bought 3,000 acres south of Ventura Boulevard. Girard divided his purchase into more than 6,000 individual lots, some as small as 25 feet wide, and immediately began marketing his dream. To make his community attractive, Girard lined the streets with more than 16,000 trees, put in curbs and gutters and added such amenities as the 18 hole golf course. And of course, he built the school.

 

The earliest settlers known to the area of Woodland Hills were the Chumash Indians. During the Portola Expedition in 1769, explorers met with the Native Americans and named the area Valley of the Oaks. Here the treaty to end the Mexican War was signed and California was to be admitted as the 31st state.

 

Girard and his company Boulevard Land Company purchased 2,886 acres in 1922 and subdivided it into 6,000 lots. Small lots were sold to families in a farming area that originally were huge parcels. He planted cypress, peppers, eucalyptus to attract families to this far end of the valley. He tried to give the impression of a thriving economy by developing faux store fronts, a newspaper and country club.

 

During the Depression, the community was greatly affected. Only 75 families remained and large landowners moved in. Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures became a resident and owned over 1,100 acres. The result of a community collaborating and improving the area was the development of the Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce in 1941. In the 1980’s, businesses purchased much of Warner’s land and became the Warner Center, the center of the business district with malls, restaurants, medical facilities, insurance companies, engineering corporations, financial establishments, and luxury residential homes. Along with the prosperous developments, Woodland Hills is well-known for the most outstanding schools in all of Los Angeles.