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
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
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
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.