By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Seven Arrows Elementary School, which serves students between kindergarten and sixth grade, has purchased the 129-year-old Aldersgate Retreat Center on Haverford Avenue.
The school first secured a rental agreement of the property for the 2020-21 school year “to ensure that their students were able to conduct in-person learning at the first moment a waiver was granted” following COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, according to a statement from the school.
“For Seven Arrows Elementary School to permanently own its own campus was the first realistic opportunity that the school has had in its 23-year history in Pacific Palisades,” Founder and Head of School Margarita Pagliai shared.
The building was previously owned by the Cal Pal Conference of the United Methodist Church. Starting this fall, Aldersgate will serve as a campus for the school’s youngest students: kindergarteners and first-graders.
Seven Arrows, which also operates in two spaces on La Cruz Drive in the Village area, utilizes multiple campuses to allow in-person learning to continue for all grades, while also “prioritizing the safety of everyone in the community.”
“I couldn’t have envisioned a more appropriate location to begin the next chapter for Seven Arrows,” Director of Enrollment Management and Marketing Fiona Farrahi said. “From its towering redwood trees and green habitat, to the rich history and architecture, Aldersgate exudes many of the core values of the school: responsibility, service, conservation, respect. We realize how much responsibility comes with this acquisition and couldn’t be more honored.”
The 8,860-square-foot property was first listed for sale in December 2020, according to LoopNet. Farrahi shared that the school plans to work with a committee of historians, local architects and community members to “maintain the integrity of the architecture and preserve the history of the building.”
“Seven Arrows is looking forward to merging the school’s deep roots in service learning with the building’s long-standing focus on community service and gatherings—something that we are all looking forward to after the end of COVID-19 restrictions,” Farrahi said.
Aldersgate Retreat Center was purchased in 1927 by two groups formed from Sunday school classes at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, according to information shared by the school. The groups met for things like banquets, debates and retreats, and sought a permanent location for gatherings of this nature.
Two members found the house during an estate sale and purchased it at the time for $3,000, the school reported.
“The strong lure from the Methodist Church to move to Pacific Palisades was part of their plan since Pacific Palisades was originally founded by the Methodist Church as a Chautauqua or Community of Believers for religious purposes,” according to the statement. “It was built in 1892 as a private home in downtown Los Angeles on Harvard Boulevard in the Wilshire District.”
In 1928, the home was cut in half, the school shared, and moved by truck and mule teams on a three-day trek across the city to its destination on Haverford Avenue—located across from Founder’s Oak. By the 1960s, as membership dwindled, the group donated the building to the United Methodist Church, which renamed the building Aldersgate.
Twelve years later, in the 1940s, a dining room and manager apartment were added to the house, with “major renovations” to the bottom floor completed in the late 1980s. The center was designated a Historic Cultural Monument by the city in 2008.
“Thanks to the vision and generosity of many of our community members and Board of Trustees,” Pagliai shared, “we are expanding our footprint in a way that will allow us to impact the learning experience of every one of our students indefinitely.”
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