While serving as principal of a private school in Los Angeles, Miss Mercedes Thorp met Mrs. Ann Carlson Granstrom. These two educators came to believe they could create a new school by combining their talents. In 1939, they founded Carlthorp School in a small house on Fourth Street in Santa Monica. They had one student when it opened, but enrollment grew to ten before the year was over.
Both women believed there was a need in the community for an alternative to public school education: a structured, traditional school that would emphasize a strong and balanced academic program. Their intention was to provide a comprehensive education for each child, enhanced by good study habits, courtesy, self-discipline, and positive self-esteem. These two educators felt confident that a low student-to-teacher ratio was essential for providing a nurturing classroom setting. Their goal was to prepare each child to meet the challenges of higher education and life.
The school’s reputation grew quickly. By 1941, Carlthorp School needed to move to larger quarters, which brought us to our present location on San Vicente Blvd. At that time, the campus consisted of a single house and served as both a day school and a boarding school. During the 1950s, additional classroom buildings were added across the back of the campus. The school continued to blossom and grow in reputation and enrollment. In 1976, the east building was added, which provided three more classrooms.
One of Miss Thorp’s pupils for fourth, fifth, and sixth grades was Dee Menzies, who served as Head of School for 33 years. When she agreed to return in the role of Headmistress, Mrs. Granstrom retired as principal. Miss Thorp was already retired, but both continued to serve on the Board of Trustees.
In 1989, Carlthorp School celebrated its 50th anniversary with the opening of a newly completed administration and classroom complex that included a computer lab and the first location of an on-campus library. These enhancements were made possible by a successful capital campaign supported by the entire school community.
Carlthorp School finished a second extensive remodeling nine years later. This allowed for an additional class per grade level, a relocated and enlarged library, a new science lab, and a grass playing field.
In 2015, Carlthorp School celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In 2016, Mrs. Menzies retired after serving as Head of School for 33 years. Tim Kusserow, Carlthorp’s former Principal, is now our school’s third Head of School.
Our entire community continues to value the unique legacy of the Carlthorp School education that Miss Thorp, Mrs. Granstrom, and Mrs. Menzies, three visionary educators, left in our care.