The year was 1946. World War II had just ended and Los Angeles was restless with former servicemen and women back home in the States looking for jobs and places to settle. Housing and money were short. One night, four musician friends got together and talked about cooperative living. They shared the same dream of a community-based arrangement that would let them share the joys and burdens of parenting with other families. Shortly thereafter, they found a piece of land—some 800 acres—just two miles north of Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood, and bought it…at $500 an acre!
The original four families became twenty-five and, in a matter of months, one hundred families were interested. When the number grew to two hundred, the group contacted the city planning commission and, in 1948, incorporated as a cooperative community. It was unique project that attracted musicians, professors, accountants, attorneys, physicians, and psychiatrists.
They planned to build a swimming pool and riding stables, create a credit union, build a preschool and shopping center, plant a hydroponics garden, and create an eleven-acre park. The shopping center and garden failed to materialize and the credit union folded, but the rest of their plan is thriving today.
The preschool opened in January of 1953. There were seven children, one director, and an assistant. Tuition was $11 per month and school was two days per week. At first it was rough going—the school needed everything. Donations came from the community and every weekend in those days was a workday, with families pitching in with hammers and saws.
We are now thriving with sixty five families, 70 children, and a staff of eleven. The history of our school is unique and truly cooperative. While many things have changed throughout the years, the school still attracts families that are dedicated to respect for the dignity, imagination, and capacity of children and who are seeking to ground their family in a spirit of cooperation and community.