LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn

The following article first appeared in the Spring 2019 (VOLUME 37 NUMBER 1) issue of the “Ojai Valley Guide” magazine on pages 154 and 155. The magazine is published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission.

Want to know what it smells like under the Jack Boyd Center?
Drew Mashburn knows!
Drew Mashburn

I admit it! I’m addicted to coffee. I mean real coffee. Strong and black!

Several years ago, my dear wife bought my favorite coffee mug at Rains Department Store. On it there is a black-and-white photo of downtown Ojai, looking west, when Ojai was called Nordhoff. The photo is mainly of the then-new Arcade. How do I know this? Because at the far left edge of the photo is the post office bell tower as it’s being built. It has scaffolding all around it and the domed top has yet to be added. So, the photo was most likely taken in late 1916 or early 1917 because construction was completed prior to the first Ojai Day that was held April 7, 1917.

Edward Drummond Libbey of Libbey Glass had the common-looking, old, western-style downtown — with its wooden boardwalks and false fronts — made over to create the beautiful downtown architecture we have today. But, he didn’t mess with the Ojai State Bank or the Jack Boyd Memorial Club that were prominent structures on Main Street and east of his new and grand post office. I’m not sure as to why, but I suspect that they were simply too magnificent in appearance to justify changing, or he had a gut feeling that if he did, he’d get his new-to-town butt kicked by longtime Nordhoff folks who loved those old buildings.

The Ojai State Bank’s architectural style was neoclassical with tall, heavy columns that looked like Rome to me. I understand it was built of brick. After Libbey had the Arcade, Pergola and Post Office in the downtown done over in the plaster/stucco-sided Mission Revival style of his liking, the old bank must have really clashed with them in appearance. It was located where the public parking lot is at the east end of the Pergola.

The Jack Boyd Memorial Club sat on the east side of the Ojai State Bank and along Ojai Creek (aka East Barranca). It was a masculine-looking building with a dark roof of wooden shingles and its covered porches were supported by very thick wooden posts. The Craftsman Bungalow-style building was built in 1903 to be a clubhouse for men. If ol’ Edward had dared to change the appearance of this sacred-to-the-community men’s-folk clubhouse, I’m fairly sure his hide would have been stretched above it’s fireplace mantel.

But, change is inevitable. I’m not sure exactly when, but the Ojai State Bank was acquired by the Bank of America. It set up shop in the old building for a number of years and, somewhere along the line, the bank wound up owning the Jack Boyd Memorial Club. In fact, in 1956, the Bank of America decided to build a new bank on the lot occupied by the Jack Boyd Memorial Club. The bank needed to rid itself of the old clubhouse. The Lions Club offered to take it off the bank’s hands, but members changed their minds when they heard that the city of Ojai was tossing around the idea of building a community recreation center. Upon hearing this, the Lions suggested that the city take ownership of the old men’s clubhouse and have it moved to a suitable site. That happened in February 1957. It was decided the Jack Boyd Memorial Club would be moved to Sarzotti Park.

The “Jack Boyd Memorial Club” being moved from its location on the west bank of Ojai Creek (AKA: East Barranca) out onto Ojai Avenue in February 1957. The building was moved to Sarzotti Park.

I was a few months short of being 6 years old, so I wasn’t downtown to witness the Boyd Club being raised up off its foundation and onto the trailer and big truck used to move it east on Ojai Avenue. Believe it or not, Mom and Dad didn’t let me hang alone downtown at that age, but I was aware the Boyd Club was going to be headed up Park Road. We lived on East Aliso Street and our home backed up to Sarzotti Park. My neighborhood buddies and I rode our bikes down to the street and watched the crew move the old building from Ojai Avenue onto Park Road.

We probably drove the crew crazy because, as they ever so slowly moved the building, we kept circling around the truck, trailer and building to witness all we could. We were enthralled with what was going on. At one point, several of us youngsters ditched our bikes and crawled under the trailer because we wanted to see the bottom of the building. I don’t know what the heck we were thinking and some adult guy chased us out from under there. Kids!

The building was offloaded onto heavy, wooden-beam cribbing to where it sits today. I’m not positive, but I think it took two trips to get all of the building from Ojai Avenue to Sarzotti Park. I only recall the one section of building being moved. Guess what? As the building sat there for a few months being readied for lowering onto a new foundation, us kids got under it several more times! After all these years, I can still recall how it smelled. It had a strong smell of musty, old wood. Yet, it was a pleasant smell.

The building sat on that cribbing for what seemed like a lifetime to me. I could hardly wait to have it open into the new recreation center I had heard it was going to become. My buddies and I would go up there often to check on the progress of the building being permanently set in place.

One time, two of my East Aliso Street buddies (Mike Payton and Mark Kingsbury) were behind the building. I think it was Mike who climbed up a tall pine tree in the row of pines that ran from the western side of the park clear to the east side and just south of the building. Mike was throwing down pine cones to Mark and me. There was all kinds of scrap lumber scattered around the building. Mike flung down a pine cone from his lofty position. Mark and I stepped back in an attempt to catch it. I stepped onto a 16d nail that was protruding through a piece of scrap wood. When I lifted up my foot, the wood lifted up off the ground as well. It really freaked me out! I really buried that big ol’ nail into my heel. I think it went clear up to my tailbone. All I could think about was what Mom had told me about stepping on a a rusty nail . . . that being, you can get lockjaw from it! I pulled the nail and chunk of wood loose, then hightailed it for home at close to the speed of sound. Mark could usually run as fast as me, but he was no match for my speeding frame that day. I think I must have left a sonic boom.

I believe it was about April that the building was set onto its new foundation, then opened for public use that summer. My puncture wound had healed by that time and I didn’t get lockjaw because Mom made me get a dang tetanus shot. So, I was one of the first of the neighborhood kids to get to use the new recreation center, which became known as the Boyd Club, now the Boyd Center.

Oh, I almost forgot. Unfortunately, the Ojai State Bank building was demolished in 1960. I know that its big Roman-looking columns were saved, but I have been unable to locate them.

By the way, in case any of you know of a coffee mug for sale with the Ojai State Bank and the Jack Boyd Memorial Club on it, please let me know where my wife might purchase it for me.

Drew Mashburn is a volunteer at the Ojai Valley Museum.


The following article first appeared in the Friday, November 24, 1916 edition of “THE OJAI” on the front page. The author is unknown. This was written before the town name changed from “Nordhoff” to “Ojai.”  The photos were added by the Ojai Valley Museum.  


Landscape gardener F. C. Fassel, on the annual payroll of Mr. E. D. Libbey, is now grading the vacant lot between the Ojai State Bank and the Boyd Club, which within a year will be styled the “Garden of Rose,” which in beauty will outrival Eden — perhaps — with the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve looking in instead of looking out.

Edward Drummond Libbey

The ground is to be artistically embellished for the reception of all the more popular and beautiful varieties of rose bushes. All of the fine specimens so carefully nurtured by custodian Achelpohl of the Club will be transplanted in the plot, without retarding their bloom. This beauty spot will serve to add to the power of the magnet that will surely attract outsiders to the Ojai valley, adding still greater charm to Nordhoff’s civic center.

It is to be regretted that the wheels of the vehicle of progress shattered and tore out the great trailing rose bush at the corner of Clark’s deposed livery barn. In full bloom, with the rich colorings gleaming from the lower and upper branches of a live oak that served as a trellis, it was the marvel of all the tourists and the pride of the valley. It, however, still survives to bloom perpetually in thousands of “snap shots” by the ladies and knights of the Camera.

But there is some recompense for its loss. A handsome garage, built of moss covered native rock and tile adornments, is nearing completion on the corner, which furnishes an attraction less dainty, but more useful.

Clark’s Auto Livery (circa 1920). Note rock wall of building at left of photo.

The new post office building of hollow tile construction, with its massive tower, is now going up. The memorial fountain, after being torn down, is assuming its former shape in a position four feet further back from the street.

The Arcade is just completed and work has commenced on the Post Office Tower, 1917. The tower is at the left of the photo. (David Mason collection)

The park wall and pergola is lining up handsomely.

Colorized post card of the pergola with fountain. The park’s name was changed from “Civic Center Park” to “Libbey Park”.

The big park is taking on more beauty daily, and the million gallon reservoir is nearly completed.

The Women’s Club – A Long Record of Service

The following article was written by Dorothy P. Butler for the “Ojai Valley News’s” OJAI GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY – 1921 TO 1971 celebratory booklet (page 22). It is reprinted here with the permission of the Ojai Valley News.

The Women’s Club – A Long Record of Service
Dorothy P. Butler

“Enabling” could be the one word to describe the activities of the organization that began as The Ojai King’s Daughters in 1899, and later, in 1915, became The Ojai Valley Woman’s Club. A careful scanning of the minutes reveals such a multiplicity of appeals from the community to this group of women that one wonders how through seventy years they have all been met. The record is all the more remarkable when one considers that dues in 1939 were still $2, and that all moneys contributed for the support of community ventures had to be earned, as well as funds for the furnishing, maintenance and improvements in the clubhouse itself which has served as a home for many valley groups and projects.

The early group, known as The Ojai King’s Daughters, was organized in 1899 as a women’s auxiliary of the Presbyterian Church then located on Gridley Road. Later, when the building was moved to the corner of Ojai Avenue and South Montgomery Street, it shortly began to sponsor classes for boys in carpentry, referred to Sloyd classes, and for sewing and other domestic training for girls. [Sloyd is derived from a Swedish word which translates as crafts or handiwork.] Materials were purchased and exhibits arranged. Known as the “Industrial Classes,” these exhibits were held in the Upper Ojai, San Antonio and Nordhoff schools. A detached building, now connected with the clubhouse, was used for the sloyd classes until the schools themselves eventually took over the work.

Keeping litter off the streets was already a problem. The women not only set an example by themselves sweeping the streets and sidewalks, but also sponsored a group of boys who cleaned away litter every other Tuesday (and busying themselves cleaning out the schoolhouse stable in the alternate Tuesdays!). The members were also the first in the Valley to protest roadside billboards.

Meanwhile, initiative and support were undertaken to bring musical programs and lectures to the Valley for all to enjoy.


So effective was this work that in May 1909, Mrs. F. B. Ginn disclosed she would use the legacy left by her husband “to benefit a worthy organization” in building “a convenient and appropriate clubhouse for the use of The King’s Daughters.” Eventually a new society was formed to be called The Ojai King’s Daughters Association and incorporated in order to be able to own property. The clubhouse itself was dedicated on March 10, 1911.

CLUBHOUSE --- of The King's Daughters Association, built in 1911.
CLUBHOUSE — of The King’s Daughters Association, built in 1911.

It became the meeting place not only for the women who drove to town over the dusty roads, but also for their menfolk in town on business. The slant top desk, still in existence in the foyer, was used by the men for calculating business records. Both men and women enjoyed cool lemonade in summer, hot tea and open fires in winter.

In December 1914, the Association voted unanimously to change their status to that of A Woman’s Club, “the object to enlarge our sphere of usefulness.” In February 1915, the change was made official with the adoption of constitution and bylaws.

Within three years the club had helped two great Valley emergencies. During 1917’s big fire the clubhouse was headquarters for relief and distribution of supplies. During the severe influenza epidemic the following year, the clubhouse became the nurses’ home. Here they slept and were served their meals. Clubwomen did all the work plus the work in the diet kitchen, where meals were prepared for patients who were housed in the Boyd Club, which then stood [at 307 E Ojai Ave]. All through the war it was turned over to the Red Cross, and here was done all the sewing, rolling of bandages, and the packing of cartons of these supplies.

Meeting Place

Then began in earnest the trend, still continuing, of offering meeting place to many organizations. The clubhouse became, during the years, home to six churches while they worked toward the day when they could occupy their own buildings. In 1928 the club members were asked to back the start of preschool age children’s conferences. The PTA has been housed during the lunch hour to prepare hot meals for needy children. Music and dancing classes chose to hold their sessions there. Brownies, Camp Fire Girls, Bluebirds, Girl Scouts have met within its walls. At different times the club has sponsored these groups, at one time two Girl Scout groups.

The schools have turned to the club for kindergarten space before their own facilities were built, and much later, during World War II, the kindergarten again met for four years in the clubhouse.

Shortly after the Ojai Valley School introduced folk dancing in the Valley, the club backed the idea that folk dancing be made available in the public schools with a gift of $100. This support was repeated many times.

In other ways Valley recreation was encouraged. $100 was given to the Ojai Valley Recreation Coordinating Council in 1955 and 1956. The Summer Playground was always included in the budget. In 1960 the city asked for the club’s support of a Sports Advisory Committee, and later [the club] informed the County Board of Supervisors of [their] approval of using the Soule property for a golf course. When the Boyd Club was moved to Sarzotti Park, the members helped in furnishing it.

In 1963 the club gave its first scholarship to a Nordhoff High student. By 1965 this was doubled to include both a boy and a girl. The scholarship funds come from money earned by the members over and above the club’s regular income.

Meanwhile, continuing a policy implemented in the early days of the century, the club brought to the Valley for six successive years a lecture series by Mrs. Lorita Baker Vallelly, at that time considered the most thoughtful and provocative commentator in Southern California in the fields of political, literary, and dramatic analysis.

The crisis needs continued to be met. In 1942, the club initiated a drive for the purchase of a resuscitator to be used by the Ojai Fire Department. Funds were quickly subscribed in response to the appeal, and the equipment demonstrated in June of that year.


From the days of the first Calling Committee, the members have sought to be a source of friendship to all within the Valley. In 1940 the Chamber of Commerce agreed to furnish the bowls for a new venture suggested by the club. A group of members volunteered to call on all newcomers with a letter of welcome tucked among the greens of flowers filling each of the bowls. The first paragraph of the first letter epitomizes the spirit of the project:

“Dear Newcomer . . . As the Christmas season draws near, the people of Ojai want you to know we are thinking of you, are glad that you have come to live with us, and want to help you in any way we can make you feel at home.” Then following a listing of Christmas community activities, ending with the query, “Won’t you let us meet you on some of these occasions?
Los Saludadores
(Those who greet you)”

World War II naturally turned our attention to grimmer tasks, but never through the years has the club lost sight of the desire to be a homelike setting for newcomer and older resident alike to greet each other, and create new friendships. Through these the newcomer has quickly found a way that “enables” her to help in strengthening the quality of life so unique in this community.