SM History Page


San Marino

The story of San Marino is rich in California's legend and lore. The site of the City of San Marino originally consisted of large fruit ranches and vineyards, owned by early day pioneers whose names are still familiar to Southern Californians – like Benjamin D. Wilson, George S. Patton and James De Barth Shorb.

In an earlier era, this area was part of the vast California mission system, providing rich yields of food, tallow and hides. As the missions grew, a need arose for a grist mill to process the abundant grains. Such a mill was constructed about 1816 and is today El Molino Viejo – the Old Mill, the oldest building in San Marino, as well as a veteran structure of Southern California.

San Marino's most famous resident was Benjamin D. Wilson, who, in 1854, established his Lake Vineyard Ranch home on what is today known as Euston Road. Here he lived until his death in 1878. He is known to have described the region as "one of the most beautiful places that heart could desire." Serving as Mayor of Los Angeles and as a State Senator for two successive terms, Wilson often entertained important Southland visitors at his ranch.

When Wilson's daughter Maria married James De Barth Shorb, he gave them the top knoll of his estate as a wedding gift. The Shorbs built a home where the Huntington mansion now stands and named their 600-acre ranch San Marino. Shorb named his ranch after his grandfather's plantation in Maryland, which in turn had been named for the tiny Republic
of San Marino.

Henry E. Huntington visited the Shorb estate often and loved the location. He purchased the Shorb property in 1903, and in time the old ranch house gave way to the Huntington mansion. Today the City of San Marino is well known throughout the world for the extensive and priceless collection of art treasures in the famous Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

Wilson's daughter from his second marriage, Ruth, married George S. Patton, who not only became the first Mayor of San Marino, incorporating the area into the City of San Marino in 1913, but the father of another famous figure in world history – General George S. Patton, Jr.


San Marino Historical Society

The San Marino Historical Society was formed on July 4, 1973, by a group of San Marino
citizens interested in the historical background of the community. A charter group formalized the Society on September 17 of the same year with the specific purpose to hold meetings, examine the history of San Marino, publish its history and share the rich heritage of the community with others. The Society was also formed at that time to assist the City of San Marino in the celebration of the nation's bicentennial in 1976.


San Marino Historical Society | Box 80222 San Marino, CA 91118
(626) 304-9375 |


History Merchandise Centennial Committee Gallery Related Links