It’s no exaggeration to say that The Webb Schools rose from humble beginnings. As the story is told, Thompson and Vivian Webb sold nearly all of their worldly possessions in a tag sale to finance a trip from Tennessee to California to take over an abandoned school campus above Claremont. They arrived here with less than $100 in their pockets. Their unlikely success was to be equal parts dream and determination.
In 1922, the asking price for the ramshackle property in the hills above Claremont was somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000. The owners wanted half of the asking price in cash. Well, again, with less than $100 on hand—other arrangements had to be made. And they were.
Through personal loans and private leases Thompson and Vivian cobbled together the resources they needed to get things started. And over time, with the success and growth of the school, more permanent and lasting arrangements were made. Now, as Webb prepares for The Centennial 1922-2022, wouldn’t Thompson and Vivian be pleased to see how Webb thrives!
During those early days of the 20th century, the wilderness hillsides to the east and north of the Webb campus were the property of two sisters who had been awarded the acreage by homestead. As time passed and suburban development grew, the value of the hillsides above Claremont grew with it. Actually, for more than three decades, Webb has been in talks with the two sisters and members of their families about the possible purchase of the land for the schools. Webb’s interest in this hillside land has always been threefold: First, to maintain our Western heritage of wild arroyos and heritage oaks to our east and north. Second, to create a buffer between the campus and suburban development. And third, to allow for future campus improvement and development as the school community and board of trustees desires. All three of these goals have now been accomplished.
“This historic purchase of wilderness hillside, doubling the size of our campus, will allow Webb to be in control of its destiny for the next 100 years. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, made possible only by the hard work of the senior administrative team, board of trustees, life trustees and a small group of major benefactors,” said Taylor Stockdale, Head of Schools.
“As Taylor rightly points out, this is a great moment in Webb’s history. I, too, want to thank and acknowledge the Senior Admin. Team, the Board of Trustees, and those leadership donors that made this all possible. I am thrilled to be a part of this work and this moment. All of us in the Webb community should be excited beyond measure about Webb’s future as we look to The Centennial and beyond,” said Sanjay Dholakia, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Please enjoy our gallery of photographs, as well as a short video highlighting the hillside property.