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District History

District History

Picture of the Rains House


The Cucamonga Rancho

The name "Cucamonga" may have been derived from a Shoshone word meaning "sandy place." The area, watered from mountain streams, was the site of a Native American settlement. The Mission San Gabriel established the Rancho Cucamonga as a site for grazing their cattle. In 1839, the 13,000 acre rancho was granted by the Mexican governor of California to Tiburcio Tapia, a wealthy Los Angeles merchant. Tapia transferred his cattle to Cucamonga and built a fort-like adobe house on Red Hill. The Rancho extended easterly from San Antonio Creek to what is now Turner Avenue, and from today’s Eighth Street to the mountains.                                                     

The Rains House

Rains in 1856 had married Maria Merced Williams, the daughter of Chino Rancho owner Isaac Williams and granddaughter of Don Antonio Maria Lugo, owner of the San Bernardino Rancho. Maria was thus a wealthy heiress, and Rains invested in three ranchos and the Bella Union Hotel in Los Angeles. He purchased Rancho Cucamonga for $16,500 and constructed a burned brick building on the property at a cost of about $18,000. The Rains House was built in 1860 by Ohio brick masons from bricks made by Joseph Mullaly from the red clay on the site. Its flat roof was waterproofed by tar from the brea pits in Los Angeles. An open flume carried water from springs through the kitchen, into the patio, and under the house to the orchard, thereby providing cooling for the structure. The original house had an entry hall, a parlor, and three bedrooms in the front, with a patio area flanked by a dining room, a kitchen, a padré’s room, and two guest rooms.

John Rains planted 160 acres of vines in 1859. Wine and brandy made at Cucamonga gained wide popularity. An earlier small vineyard and winery is said to date back to 1839, thus establishing the claim that Cucamonga has the oldest commercial winery in the state.

The first school in Cucamonga is said to have been started in her home in 1870. In 1882, George Chaffey, a Canadian from the province of Ontario, purchased 8000 acres of the Rancho Cucamonga land for $90,000. Chaffey established an irrigation colony which he named Ontario, after his homeland of Ontario, Canada. The Ontario colony later became the city of Ontario, incorporated in 1891. The northern part of Chaffey's Ontario colony became the city of Upland, incorporated in 1906. In 1977 three unincorporated communities which had emerged on the old ranch lands — Alta Loma, Cucamonga and Etiwanda— became the city of Rancho Cucamonga.


Cucamonga School District

Cucamonga School District was organized during the 1870-71 school year.  Historical records indicate that it was referred to as the “Cucomongo” or “Cocomonga” School District during the first few years.  Chino School District was the only other school district west of San Bernardino in San Bernardino County.

The first school in the Cucamonga School District was operated for five months during the 1873-74 school year with an average daily attendance of eleven students.  The Franklin School was built about 1892, and was a one teacher school house until about 1908, when there were two teachers.

In the early days, Cucamonga School District had three elementary schools.  There was one on San Bernardino Road, one in “North” Cucamonga called the Franklin School and the other a “one-teacher” school on Rochester Avenue.

On January 5, 1915, the old Cucamonga School District was divided between the Cucamonga and the Central School Districts.  The northern part being the Central School District and the southern and larger part retained the name “Cucamonga.”

In 1916, a new school was built on Archibald Avenue for all children in the District.  It consisted of six classrooms and an auditorium for a cost of $20,000.  The “Bell” from the Franklin School was moved to the new school when the Franklin School was sold.

Around 1927, the Rochester School was torn down and the students were bused to the Cucamonga School.  In 1957, another school was built on Archibald, north of the railroad tracks.  It consisted of 16 classrooms, two kindergarten rooms, a cafetorium and a cafeteria. The cost of the new school was $558,716.  This school is still operated by the District and carries the name Cucamonga Elementary School.

The old school was sold in 1959 for $22,000. The old bell from the Franklin School was moved to the new Cucamonga Elementary School and mounted in the front of the school where it remains today.

In 1960, another school was built on Baker Avenue and is known now as Los Amigos Elementary School.  It was built for a cost of $173,816 and it originally consisted of eight classrooms.

In 1977, Rancho Cucamonga Middle School was built on Feron Boulevard and Turner Avenue (now known as Hermosa Avenue) at a cost of $1,505,644.

On July 1, 1979, the Guasti School District was annexed to the Cucamonga School District and brought with it two additional schools, the Louisa Guasti School located on Turner Avenue and the Interstate 10 Freeway in Guasti; and, the Italo M. Bernt School located on Fourth Street in Ontario.  The Louisa Guasti School was a six room school which housed the District Office, and then used as a Kindergarten school.  The Louisa Guasti School was sold to the City of Ontario in 2007. 

The Italo M. Bernt School was a five room school which was originally operated by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Office West End Special Education Local Plan Area (WESELPA).  The Italo M. Bernt School was used as a Kindergarten school and then leased to a private organization that provided school for special needs children beginning July 2007.  The Italo M. Bernt School was sold to SRG Archibald, LLC in May 2015 for $2,600,000.

The newest school in the district, THE ONTARIO CENTER SCHOOL, was dedicated on September 6, 1990.

Cucamonga School District presently operates three elementary (K-5) schools and one middle (6-8) school:

  • Cucamonga Elementary School
  • Los Amigos Elementary School
  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School