Nathan Stowell

Nathan Stowell 

Real estate and manufacturing, philanthropy. Born at Claremont, NH, December 15, 1851. Attended public schools in Claremont, NH followed by the Vaughn Union Academy, Claremont, NH. Moved to Los Angeles, 1874, where he engaged in the contracting, construction and concrete pipe businesses. A man of vision, he bought large tracts of land for investment and development. He was a pioneer in the construction of concrete water pipes for irrigation purposes and held several patents.

The installation of irrigation systems for developing lands became Stowell’s chief interest and Rialto, Corona, Cucamonga, Riverside, Ontario, Pasadena, Whittier and La Habra blossomed into thriving communities due to his work. Organized Ontario Power Company. General Manager, Cucamonga Land and Improvement Company.

The irrigation development of the Imperial Valley, which he financed after the U. S. Government pronounced the land as worthless, places this project as one of the largest irrigation efforts of the time. Mr. Stowell was a partner, Imperial Valley Development Pioneers, financing George Chaffee in the development of 130,000 acres, sold to Rockwood in 1902. Harold Bell Wright’s famous novel, The Winning of Barbara Worth, depicts a similar story to the one recorded on Stowell in his dramatic fight to harness the Colorado River for irrigation of the Imperial Valley.

He built the Stowell Building which was the first five story structure in Los Angeles in which the first electric elevator in the city had been installed. Later, he built the Stowell Hotel which was pre-eminent in the city with such amenities as ice water piped to each room. The Mayan Theater, one of the finest of the era, was also built by Mr. Stowell and the Second Street Tunnel was financed by him.

A director of several banks, he was vice president of Pacific Clay Products for several years, and the last living of the twenty members who organized the Chamber of Commerce. His philanthropies were many and usually secret. Deeding a lot to the Sons of the Revolution in the State of California in 1927, he personally supervised construction of its first Library building. Mr. Stowell, through his vision and leadership, made possible the Society’s first library.

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