This morning the first bids were taken on the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Institution — 74 green acres in Whittier that were home to county bad boys until it closed in 2004. The bidding is part of the state's fire sale of “surplus property.” A California Department of Corrections report for 2003 gives a flavor of what life was like at the institution toward the end:

“At Fred C. Nelles there were 274 reports of use of force mostly involving chemical restraints.”

The facility began life with the usual good intentions as a co-ed reform school in 1891 before becoming the Whittier School for Boys, and eventually being renamed the Fred C. Nelles School for Boys after a longtime superintendent  — until it reached its final incarnation.

Above: Nelles' grounds in search of new tenants — if you lived here you'd be in jail by now. Below: The Whittier State School for Boys, circa 1905.

Credit: LA Public Library

Credit: LA Public Library

This hunk of real estate, according to KNBC and other sources, is among the largest state properties to be placed on the open market. The General Services Department brochure on Nelles imagines “a hypothetical project that includes 300 detached residential units,

400 town homes, 20,000 sf of specialty retail and 20,000 sf of general



it falls into the hands of upscale developers, however, has anyone

given thought to it becoming a low-security facility for drug offenders

or other minimal-risk prisoners who are caught in the middle of the

political debate about California's overcrowded prisons? Final bids are

due November 20.

LA Weekly