Lesson Plan

The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California

Frankish Building facade

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.3, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.5, 6-8.RH.6, 6-8.RH.7, 6-8.RH.8, 6-8.RH.9, 6-8.RH.10, 9-10.RH.1, 9-10.RH.2, 9-10.RH.3, 9-10.RH.4, 9-10.RH.5, 9-10.RH.6, 9-10.RH.7, 9-10.RH.8, 9-10.RH.9, 9-10.RH.10
Additional Standards:
US History Era 6 Standard 1A: The student understands the connections among industrialization, the advent of the modern corporation, and material well-being.
Curriculum Standards for Social Studies from the National Council for the Social Studies
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


1. To evaluate the impact of the Chaffeys and Charles Frankish on Ontario, California, and compare their efforts with similarly important figures in their own community;
2. To understand the importance of irrigation in the settlement of Ontario, California;
3. To examine how buildings can be considered symbols of civic and individual pride;
4. To analyze the architectural merits of the Frankish Building;
5. To complete a Historic Resources Inventory of an important building in their own town.


Time Period: 1880s-1910s
Topics: The lesson can be used in units on the Progressive Era in U.S. history courses, in the examination of a variety of civic issues, and in the study of architecture. Students will practice their skills of observation, analysis, and group participation.


Standing proudly on the southwest corner of Euclid Avenue and Transit Street in Ontario, California, the three-story Frankish Building symbolizes the commercial and economic success of a California town. Like hundreds of similar buildings across the nation — in small towns and large — the building is locally significant because of its association with a prominent man of the community and because of its attractive architectural style. The unusually wide and sweeping main street — Euclid Avenue — was the creation of the town’s original founder, George Chaffey. Together, the building and its setting provide a visual reminder of the spirit of boosterism that swept across the nation in the late 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century.

Lesson Hook/Preview

The 1870s and 1880s brought extensive efforts to develop agriculture on the dry lands of the West. Many people, including the editor of the influential New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, believed that the West's barren acres could be profitably farmed if they could be well irrigated. Developing irrigation systems took money, however, and most families who wanted to move West had little hard cash. Greeley came up with a plan that would enable such people to start a settlement — a model colony — by purchasing jointly-held land and using their skills to make irrigated land profitable. Greeley personally backed such a planned community in Greeley, Colorado, which caught the attention of other organized groups of settlers and of entrepreneurs throughout the West. Through such efforts, many other colonies similar to Greeley were organized during the 1870s and 1880s. Most such towns failed, however, because the settlers had underestimated the large amounts of water needed for irrigating the arid West. Of the successful towns, some faltered, but after many struggles--including the return of the land to individual ownership--eventually became bustling towns like the one Greeley established.

In the San Gabriel/Pomona Valleys of California, one of the best known and most successful colonies owed its beginning to George Chaffey and his younger brother William. Canadian immigrants, they had arrived in nearby Riverside in 1880. Two years later, George Chaffey bought 6,218 acres of land and began to lay out a model colony, which he named Ontario after his native province in Canada. Chaffey struck a subterranean flow in San Antonio Canyon, laid 40 miles of pipe, and formed California’s first mutual water company in Ontario. Not only did Chaffey make farming possible in the region, but he also put his vision of a model colony into operation. Much of Ontario's subsequent growth was due to Charles Frankish, a businessman who played a variety of roles including constructing the Frankish Building, an important commercial and residential building. With the good start Chaffey provided, coupled with the later efforts of Charles Frankish, Ontario, California, became a special place in which to live.


Getting Started Prompt
Map: Orients the students and encourages them to think about how place affects culture and society
Readings: Primary and secondary source readings provide content and spark critical analysis.
Visual Evidence: Students critique and analyze visual evidence to tackle questions and support their own theories about the subject.
Optional post-lesson activities: If time allows, these will deepen your students' engagement with the topics and themes introduced in the lesson, and to help them develop essential skills.



Additional Resources

Ontario Chamber of Commerce
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce provides a modern-day glimpse of this California city, including tourist information and a look at the buildings which symbolize its current success.

City of Ontario
The City of Ontario includes information on Ontario's government, GIS maps, additional links, and a searchable database.

Society of Architectural Historians--Southern California Chapter
The Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter website offers related links concerning the architecture of Southern California.

Josyln Art Museum
The Joslyn Art Museum website contains additional resources for educators.

The National Trust For Historic Preservation
The National Trust For Historic Preservation offers related architectural links and maintains the Main Street Center, a program committed to the downtown revitalization of cities across the country.

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Last updated: October 12, 2018