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Land baron lends name to school, district

Posted: June 2, 2008 1:09 a.m.
Updated: August 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

The file photo from November 2007 shows Newhall Elementary School after dark.

 
He has a community, a hospital, an avenue, a foundation and a company named for him, so it should come as no surprise that there is also a school district and an elementary school in Santa Clarita named for Henry Mayo Newhall.

Newhall traveled to San Francisco from his home in Saugus, Mass., in 1850, too late to strike it rich in the gold mines as he had planned, according to a biography provided by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation. Instead, Newhall opened up an auctioneering and import/export business, with the first auction featuring most of his possessions including his ticket home - all of which sold for a hefty profit.

Newhall eventually expanded his holdings into the railroad, real estate and ranching industries. His most important acquisition was Rancho San Francisco, a parcel of more than 40,000 acres covering most of the Santa Clarita Valley. He granted a right-of-way to the Southern Pacific Company, and after the first tracks connecting the San Francisco area with Los Angeles were laid, the railroad named the town site he had granted Newhall.

Around 1878, Newhall founded Newhall School, however his motives were not completely altruistic, according to great, great grandson Tony Newhall of Valencia.

"The only way he could get families to come work for him was to provide a school," Newhall said. "But Henry Mayo Newhall held education in high regard, even though he didn't have a lot himself."

Newhall School eventually became Newhall Elementary, and when the school district was created, it also bore Newhall's name, but whether that was because of the man or the community, Tony Newhall isn't sure.

"It was probably named for the town, because it was in Newhall, and because of Newhall Elementary," Newhall said.

The Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation, created in 1963 by fourth-generation descendants of the California entrepreneur and pioneer, awards grants to organizations in communities where Newhall originally established his businesses. The foundation has awarded several grants to schools in the Newhall School District, including Newhall Elementary.

"The foundation has donated to that school district pretty consistently," Newhall said.

According to Superintendent Marc Winger, the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation has been very supportive of the Newhall School District.

"Every time we open a new school, they provide musical instruments and library books," Winger said. "Most recently, the foundation paid for some of the technology for our new science lab at his namesake school, Newhall Elementary."

After Newhall's death in 1882, his five sons incorporated his ranch properties into the Newhall Land & Farming Co. The company was purchased by Lennar in 2004.

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