The Gabrielino Indians once inhabited the land that is now known as the City of Duarte. In 1841, the governor of Alta California granted to ex-Mexican Corporal Andres Duarte and his wife nearly 7,000 acres of prime land in the upper San Gabriel Valley. He named the place Rancho Azusa de Duarte.
In the mid-1800’s, most of the Rancho was sold to help defray Andres Duarte’s debts. One of those who purchased land was Dr. Nehemiah Beardslee, who started the first school in Duarte and laid out the first section of Duarte’s water lines. Much of the remaining land was divided into 40-acre plots and sold individually.
Many of Duarte’s earliest pioneer families came to Duarte in the mid-1800’s for their health , the pleasant climate, and the fertile soil. English settlers, Americans from the Midwest and deep South, Latinos who remained from the Rancho and Japanese immigrants enabled Duarte to grow into a thriving agricultural community specializing in citrus production.
Two medical institutions were started in Duarte in the early part of this century. In 1913, the Jewish Relief Association started a tuberculosis sanitarium on 40 acres of land South of Duarte Road. This later evolved into the world-renowned City of Hope Medical Center, a recognized leader in fighting cancer and other catastrophic diseases. In 1930, a group of Carmelite Sisters established the Santa Teresita Rest Home, known today as Santa Teresita "Medical Center".
In 1957, a dedicated group of community members led the fight for incorporation, and on August 22, 1957, their efforts paid off with the formation of the City of Duarte and the Duarte Unified School District. The leadership of the Duarte City Council and the Duarte Unified School Board helped the previously fragmented community to come together, set goals and establish priorities for the newly created City of Duarte.
Preserving its history is very important to the City of Duarte. The City has an all-volunteer museum which is a resource for the community and a wonderful site for visitors to the area. The museum is located at 777 Encanto Parkway and is open the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information on the Historical Museum, please call (626) 357-9419 or visit their website at www.ranchodeduarte.org