A Brief History

Black-Foxe opened its doors in the Fall of 1928 when Charles E. Toberman, a prominent Hollywood developer and financier, was joined by Majors Earle Fox and Harry Black to found the school on the site that had formerly been occupied by Urban Military Academy. Foxe became its president and Black commandant of cadets. Both Black and Foxe had served with distinction in the First World War.  Major Harry Gaver, whose title was honorary, joined them as Headmaster. It was Harry Gaver that was the intellectual force behind the founding and the rise to prominence of Black-Foxe as a first-rate college preparatory school.

From it’s earliest years Black-Foxe attracted a number of the sons of Hollywood luminaries, due in part to the fact that Earle Foxe had been a silent movie actor who continued to take an occasional part in sound films. By the end of the thirties Harry Black had gone on to other interests.  Earle Foxe remained as president until 1960.

Although it was founded only a year before the beginning of the great depression, those who could afford to send their son’s to the school were minimally affected by that ongoing event. In the thirties both the football and polo teams enjoyed sterling reputations playing and, more often than not, defeating college and university freshman teams. Football players were highly recruited during that period. By the 1940s the polo team was history and the football team, sans scholarship athletes, had settled into playing in the private prep school league. From that time on it was the swimming team that took the laurels. Many future All-American swimmers swam for the BF ‘Mermen.’

 During World War II many former Black-Foxe cadets and faculty members served with distinction. Five gave their lives, including the son of Headmaster Harry H. Gaver.  Harry junior, who was aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, was the first Black-Foxe alumnus to die in the war.

The 1950’s at Black-Foxe, as well as elsewhere in the country, were years of stability and, except for Korea and the ongoing cold war, years of optimism. However, in 1954 Black-Foxe suffered what was undoubtedly its greatest loss when the headmaster, the firm but gentle Major Harry Gaver, died of a heart attack at age sixty-eight. English teacher Caleb deCou put it best when he said “Black-Foxe was written in the hand of Major Gaver.”  In  1959 the school was sold by Charles Toberman to Raymond Rosendahl, father of Cadet Ray Rosendahl.

The turbulent sixties with their social protests and raging anti-war sentiment, especially by the young , did not bode well for a military school.  In the early 1960s the name was changed from Black-Foxe Military Institute to The Black-Foxe School. Earle Foxe, the founding President had resigned and finally, in the last year, Army ROTC gave way to Air Force ROTC, the Air Force apparently being more benign than the infantry in the eyes American society of the 1960s. In 1965 Rosendahl sold the school to a non-profit group which included parents of cadets then in attendance. This group for reasons known and unknown were unable to make a success of the non-profit venture. In 1968 the mortgage holder had no choice but to foreclose, and Black-Foxe was no more.

Today, the only remaining vestige of Black-Foxe is a house on the adjacent property that used to serve as the kindergarten during the school year and a dance studio during the summer months.  It was purchased in the early 1940s by Black-Foxe, and when the school folded, it was sold to a Mr. David Aguirre. He now uses it as his residence and it is also a Los Angeles historical landmark and modest museum of Black-Foxe memorabilia.

Pat O'Donnell, Class of 1949


this page last updated 11/27/2005