As many as 50 historical photographs of Hawthorne School students, dating back more than half a century, were found recently in a school storeroom where they had been kept for more than a decade.
The photographs, still in excellent condition, span two decades at the Beverly Hills school, from 1922 to the 1940s. They show neatly dressed, well-groomed children posing in "picture-day" clothing.
The pictures show the children posing around playground equipment, in the classroom and seated for class pictures.
"The only problem is that we don't know any of the faces," said Margaret Serrantino, who discovered the pictures.
Former Hawthorne PTA President Bernice Hutter said she remembers asking the school board in 1959 for money to have the pictures framed and placed on display at the school. Many of the pictures were hung in the Hawthorne student cafeteria, but they were taken down and placed in storage when the building was remodeled in the mid-'60s.
Remained in Storage
"I guess they were put away for safekeeping, so safe that nobody knew where they were," said Hutter, who also served on the school board from 1961 to 1977. "I haven't seen the pictures since . . . they were taken down."
The photographs remained in storage until Serrantino, a PTA vice president, came across them while looking for memorabilia to exhibit at a PTA meeting earlier this year. She said she had been told about the existence of the photographs, but no one knew exactly where they were. After several hours of searching, however, she found them in a storeroom filled with old typewriters, discarded records and other supplies.
"It was as if they hadn't been touched since they were left there," she said. "They were very dirty, the glass was broken. It was as if they had just been dumped there."
PTA President Sharon Flaum said the photographs will be mounted, framed and put on display in the school hallways in September. Parents hope to make a photographic history of the school from its early beginnings to the present.
Serrantino said that the school is missing pictures from a few years during the Depression and World War II.
"I feel very sad when I look at some of the classes in the 1930s. Some of those children went to war and never came back," she said.
Hawthorne, the first school in Beverly Hills, traces its history to 1913, when it was known as Canyon School and located north of Sunset. The school had 22 students, one teacher, a principal and a janitor. That same year a group of parents petitioned Los Angeles County officials to create the Beverly Hills School District. The petition was granted and a year later the school was moved to its present site on Rexford Drive, where it has undergone numerous renovations.