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Padua Hills Theatre Collection

 Collection
Identifier: H-Mss-0617

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes printed matter, news clippings, and photographs relating to the Padua Hills Theatre and the Mexican Players. Printed matter produced by the theatre and the Padua Institute include playbills and advertisement fliers for productions of the Mexican Players; photographs and postcards featuring the Padua Hills Theatre and members of the Mexican Players; Padua Hills News Notes newsletters, and several items promoting the Padua Hills residences and tract lots as investment opportunities. There are many gaps in years and not every production from the years listed is represented in the collection. The collection also includes news clippings from local newspapers about the theatre, Herman and Bess Garner, and the Mexican Players, as well as items about the restoration of the theatre and community events commemorating the theatre and its legacy.

Dates

  • 1936-2011

Language of materials

Languages represented in the collection: English, Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Padua Hills Theatre was built in 1930 by an investment syndicate under the direction of Herman H. Garner as part of the Padua Hills real estate development in the foothills above Claremont, California. Envisioned as a colony for local artists, the development included an arts and crafts shop, performing arts center, and 300-seat theatre facility that also housed a dining room, a kitchen, and an exhibition room where craft items could be displayed and sold. The theatre was home to the Claremont Community Players until 1933, when the pressures of the Depression undermined the performers’ ability to produce professional plays and local patrons’ ability to pay for them. Some of the Mexican employees serving as waitresses, waiters, gardeners, and cooks at Padua Hills also sang in the dining room during pre-production dinners for the Claremont Community Players’ plays. These employees began to mount stage performances in 1931-1932 as the Mexican Players, while continuing to serve meals prior to their own performances. The plays were primarily written by Charles Dickinson and portrayed stories that took place in a romanticized, pastoral past in Mexico or Mexican California. Herman Garner’s wife, Bess, also provided a guiding hand in the productions, bringing back folktales, songs, dances, and costumes from her travels in Mexico. The Garners incorporated the nonprofit Padua Institute in 1935, with the aim of fostering intercultural understanding and providing community services as well as educational and theatrical opportunities for the young Mexican men and women at Padua Hills. The Mexican Players produced seven to nine productions per season until disbanding in 1974. A restoration project was completed at the theatre in 2009, and the main dining hall and grounds are currently used as a location for weddings and special events.

Garcia, Matt. (Fall 1995). “’Just Put on That Padua Hills Smile’: The Mexican Players and the Padua Hills Theatre, 1931-1974.” California History 74 (3): 244–261. doi:10.2307/25177509.

Krickl, Tony. “Community Celebrates Padua Hills Theater.” Claremont Courier, June 17, 2009.

Extent

1 box

Abstract

The Padua Hills Theatre was built in 1930 by an investment syndicate under the direction of Herman Garner as part of the Padua Hills real estate development in the foothills above Claremont, California. Envisioned as a colony for local artists, the development included an arts and crafts shop, performing arts center, and 300-seat theatre facility that also housed a dining room, a kitchen, and an exhibition room where craft items could be displayed and sold. The theatre presented productions featuring the Mexican Players from 1931-1974. The collection includes printed matter, clippings, and photographs relating to the theatre and the Mexican Players, including playbills and advertisement fliers for productions; photographs and postcards featuring the theatre and members of the Mexican Players; Padua Hills News Notes newsletters, and several items promoting the Padua Hills residences and tract lots as investment opportunities. The collection also includes news clippings from local newspapers about the theatre, Herman and Bess Garner, and the Mexican Players, as well as items about the restoration of the theatre and community events commemorating the theatre and its legacy.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 5 series:

Series 1: Advertisement Fliers, 1938-1939, 1941-1946, 1950, 1952-1953, 1959, 1965

Series 2: Padua Hills News Notes, 1939-1945, 1952, 1954, 1973

Series 3: Photographs and Postcards, c. 1935-1960

Series 4: Playbills, 1937, 1940-1946, 1948-50, 1953, 1957, 1959-1964, 1966-1974

Series 5: Related Organizations, 1936-2011

Series 6: Milford Zornes Artwork, 1956-1962 and undated

Location Note

Please consult repository.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Unknown; additional materials gift of Milford Zornes, 2018.

Related Material

Deuel, Pauline B. Mexican Serenade: the Story of the Mexican Players and the Padua Hills Theatre. Claremont, CA: Padua Institute, 1961. PN 2277 C5 P13 D4 in the Special Collections of Honnold/Mudd Library.

Garcia, Matt. Colonies, Colonias, and Culture: Intercultural Relations in the Citrus Belt of Southern California. Ph.D Thesis, Claremont Graduate University, 1997. XC10.22 1997 .G372 in the Archive of the Special Collections of Honnold/Mudd Library.

Garcia, Matt. A World of its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2001. XC14 .G372 2001 in the Archives of Special Collections of Honnold/Mudd Library.

Processing Information

Processed by J.M. Finlinson, CCEPS Fellow, Summer 2014. Processing of this collection was generously supported by the Office of the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College. Duplicates were removed and discarded.
Title
Guide to the Padua Hills Theatre Collection
Author
J.M. Finlinson. Milford Zornes addition processed by Katriona Lawrenson.
Date
2014
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

Contact:
800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States