The Maxwell House History

Western Justice Center houses its offices in the Maxwell House in Pasadena. In 1929, the Maxwell family commissioned the building and it was designed by noted architects Marston and Maybury in the Mediterranean revivalist style.

The patriarch of the Maxwell family, George Holmes Maxwell, was a successful businessman who established the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1924 at his alma mater, Syracuse University committing $500,000 to it.

George H. Maxwell from  The Pasadena Community Book

George H. Maxwell from The Pasadena Community Book

The primary object of this school is to teach good citizenship - to cull from every source those principles, facts, and elements which, combined, make up our rights and duties and our value and distinctiveness as United States citizens.
— George H. Maxwell

The Maxwells had no children, so when Mr. Maxwell passed away in 1932, their home became the property of the Vista del Arroyo Hotel and fell victim to the hardships of the Depression.  In 1943, the hotel was transformed into the McCornack Army Hospital, and the Maxwell House became one of its convalescent wings.  After the war the home became surplus federal property and sat idle and deteriorating for over thirty years.

 In 1988, the Western Justice Center acquired the Maxwell House and three neighboring bungalows from the former Vista Del Arroyo grounds to form the WJC campus, designating the Maxwell House as its headquarters.  Through thousands of hours of meticulous and loving restoration and reconstruction, the long-dormant Maxwell House has been restored to its former beauty and to a prominent place of service to the public.  In May of 2011, the Maxwell School added courses in conflict resolution to its curriculum; now both WJC and the Maxwell School share an even greater unity of purpose.

Thank You Donors

Sterling and Larry Franklin, via the Morris S. Smith Foundation, honored their parents Dr. Carl M. Franklin and Mrs. Carolyn C. Franklin, and Western Justice Center Founder the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson, with a gift to refinish the basement of the Maxwell House.  

In recognition of this generous donation, the second floor conference room is dedicated the The Dr. Carl M. Franklin and Mrs. Carolyn C. Franklin Conference Room at the Western Justice Center.