East of the Seaver Theatre and south of Pomona’s athletic facilities, Pomona’s campus takes a turn for the rustic—with paths crisscrossing acres of live oaks and other native vegetation. This 40-acre area, first known as Blanchard Park but more commonly known as “The Wash,” was a run-off area for floods from the nearby mountains in the days when Claremont was a less-populated area of desert scrub.
The area was a favorite area for picnics and other activities from the early days of the College. A Wash ceremony was part of Commencement in 1897, and the 1901 Metate noted that: “the Wash has always been appreciated by the dreams and lovers of trees and solitude.”
It was officially acquired in 1905 due to concerns about investors purchasing it for development. Trustee Nathan W. Blanchard, a successful citrus rancher in Santa Paula, bought the 64-acre parcel for the College, which pledged $2,500 to develop it and $300 annually for maintenance.
Since 1905, parts of the property were developed for other purposes. A baseball diamond and football field were built in the northwest portion soon after it was first purchased. In 1908, the knoll became home to Brackett Observatory, and the Greek Theatre, already an area for student gatherings at the time, was made permanent with a building in 1914. Today, the now 40-acre area also houses the Organic Farm.
Note: Some of this information was gleaned and excerpted from Pomona College: Reflections on a Campus.