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National Schools, Los Angeles

In 1903, Vrena Bender Rosenkrantz saw her first automobile. It had just been purchased by a wealthy Los Angeles businessman. Back then, automobiles were very uncommon and regarded with suspicion. Like many others Mrs. Rosenkrantz’s first impression was that it was a toy for the idle rich, but her second thought was that someday there would be a need for people to repair the automobiles that would soon foul the air and clog the streets of her beloved Los Angeles.

Joseph and Vrena Rosenkrantz, through inheritance, were themselves wealthy, even by California standards, and they were both people of action. In less than two years Vrena had gathered the funding and found the facilities to support a faculty, a curriculum, and an educational development plan for what would become America’s first technical school.

The first class in automobile mechanics had three students. An instructor hired by Mrs. Rosenkrantz herself taught it in 1905; each student paid $25 tuition.

Over the next few years, the number of automobiles grew dramatically, and more and more students came to the school to learn automobile repair. As Vrena added programs and staff, classroom space became a constant problem. The school moved at least three times within downtown Los Angeles, and finally in 1920 as Joseph assumed management, they purchased land on the southeast corner of Figueroa and Santa Barbara Avenue. Meyer and Holler (a well-established southern California construction company) was commissioned to build the new school. As a firm famous for other California buildings, including the Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theaters, they followed their mandate well; the school was larger than had ever been seen in Los Angeles.

The new building opened in April 1923 and became an instant landmark. At the time it was the largest building west of Kansas City. The façade of the three-story structure had gracefully curved arches that soon engendered the LA legend of “meet me under the arches.” The building’s street frontage was rented to commercial shops and restaurants.

For the students, there were classrooms, laboratories, workshops, dormitories, a library and gymnasium. It also had a public garage, where customers could have their cars repaired by students at greatly reduced prices, but with full guarantees. Over 200 students could receive instruction at the same time. It was then that it became the largest trade school in the U.S.

The school advertised heavily in technical magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. They also used newspapers and did several general mailings, mostly on postcards – like the one you see here.

The automotive school also offered correspondence courses to students across the country and all over the world. Some of the correspondence courses were offered in Spanish and because the Spanish language courses were so popular a branch campus was opened in Mexico City.

There were also plans for a new campus along Exposition Boulevard between La Brea and Crenshaw. However, school officials decided to expand the Figueroa and Santa Barbara campus instead.

As technology advanced, new schools were added, including programs in aviation, radio repair, and radio broadcasting.  In the mid-1930s when Diesel engines became practical, the school had to expand again to accommodate another in-flux of students.

During World War II, the school trained hundreds of soldiers as radio technicians, electricians, and automotive mechanics. The school grew so large and so fast that in late 1942, the school and its officials were indicted in Federal court for trying to defraud the government, but  after a three-day trial, the officials were acquitted of the charges because no act of wrongdoing was discovered.

After the war ended, enrollment swelled even more as returning soldiers used their G.I. benefits to pay for education. As the post-war economy regained a confident consumer focus, there was more demand for automobiles—and people to repair them. Television was another growing post-war industry, and the school programs in television repair. Classes in home appliance repair and heating and air conditioning were also implemented.

In late 1959, the name “National Schools” changed to “National Technical Schools (NTS).” Ownership and control of the institution passed to the employees, and through the next three decades, NTS became increasingly dependent, on government funding. Soldiers returning from Korea and Vietnam brought in more G.I. bill money; other students used federal and/or state financial aid to pay their tuition. The high-tech 1980s brought new courses in computer programming and repair and even robotics.

An Encino-based company, United Education and Software (UES) bought NTS in late 1985. UES already operated twelve other trade schools in California under the name “Pacific Coast College.” Initially UES, which had been struggling, got a financial boost from its acquisition of NTS, but unfortunately, things did not go well for either NTS or UES.  UES declared bankruptcy in 1989 and closed every campus.

The ornate, Italian-styled building remained until it was demolished in 1998. Today, a Chevron station and a McDonald’s restaurant occupy the site.

The postcard above was mailed in 1942 by Pvt. John Lucari. John’s message, addressed to Bette, was so praise-worthy of his experience at the school that I decided to do some research. John enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942. He served four years as a combustion engine mechanic, most likely using the skills he was taught at the National School. Peter Lucari, Jr., John’s younger brother, told me how John liked to brag about his willingness to “stay put.” He claimed that after he got home from his service in February 1946, he never left home again. He lived in the same house his entire life. John died in 2003 at age 86.

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Being a native of Los Angeles I was familiar with the locations but had no idea of the history that was involved. Thank you!

I’m a Filipino from the Philippines,a proud product of National Technical School during the late 1970’s
“Patience Is Essential To Success” as a virtue/motto of Rosenkrantz.

Glad to hear of you, I also graduated from that school around that time. But I lost my diploma and have no idea how to find another one since that school was closed so long time ago.

I am from Malaysia. Sad to know that the NTS building is no longer around and today reduced to a chevron station and a McD outlet. Studied electronics here until sometime in the early 80’s. Another proud product of NTS.

This is an interesting piece of history. I have in my possession a compilation of manuals from this institution ,20 in total. They are in very good condition, all together in a burgundy cover,with the student name engraved on the front. I have not seen another like it and would like to know if there is any interest. I found it in my late husband’s treasure trove and do not know how he came to own it.

Sounds interesting, I am Fernando Avella of BELIZE , I graduated from that school sometime 1972 ? . But I los my diploma to hurricanes . Do you think that someway I can find another diploma?

In the compilation of manuals, do you see the name FERNANDO AVELLA engraved on it?

Donde se puede ver la recopilación de manuales

Mi padre Francisco Esteban Aldana Martinez colombiano, estudió mecánica automotriz por correspondencia aproximadamente a fines de la década de 1940.
Yo conservo su diploma de la National Schools del curso de Diesel y Mecánica Automotriz firmado por el señor Rosenkranz a comienzos de 1952.
Tambien conservo en dos libros grandes las lecciones que el estudió con mucho esfuerzo en un pequeño pueblo rodeado de la selva del departamento del Putumayo cuando laboraba para el gobierno de Colombia.
Gracias a todos los que aportan para conocer la historia!.

Mi padre Antonio Torres Serrano de Utuado, Puerto Rico, tambien tomo esos cursos de mecánica automotriz por correspondencia aproximadamente durante la década de 1940. Y gracias a ese diploma que conservo como mucho aprecio,mi padre trabajo como mecanico en la contruccion de la presa del Lago Caonillas 1948 en Utuado Puerto Rico y tambien en la del Lago en el pueblo de Yauco Puerto Rico 1952.

Hello, I am from Ecuador and my grandfather obtained his degree in correspondence studies in radio, television and electronics… i am proud

Soy de lima peru estudie mecanica automotriz a distancia ,trabaje en una consecionaria general motor y fui muy reconocido y estoy orgulloso

Mi bisabuelo estudio por correspondencia en dicha institución…y tambien sobresalió en sus conocimientos como encargado de una planta dissel generadora de electricidad para un lugar llamado Siuna en Nicaragua .

Enviame un retrato de tu diploma , you tambien me gradue de esa escuela.

I been there in 1981, was amazed because a big building also lot of students, and offices. Teacher very kind, show me the Tv/radio courses

I studied in the mid-70s at National Schools by correspondence, radio television and electronics, VERY GOOD SERVICE

Where you from? Did you graduate from NTS?

I have a photo of JA and Verna as well as a booklet from the Hollywood ladies auxiliary honoring Verna. Any idea if they have descendants who would be interested in having these pictures?

Beautiful history. I am not American, I am a Belizean of Central America, at around 1972 I graduated from a National Technical School,(4000 South Figueroa Sreet?) Los Angeles CA. At that time the School`s president was L.J Rosenkranz . It was a course by correspondence, by airmail or even by surface mail, but I did graduate. My problem is that 2 times I lost my diploma to the hurricanes that hit Belize. Can someone please help me find my diploma one more time?

Hi Fernando, so much fond of your experience with nts.
LJ was a brilliant gentleman and I am thankful for his expertise as I left Guyana for the UK and b0ecame a TV engineer then later joined Honeywell on hvac.
Glad to hear from you

Hi, glad to hear from a NTS student, can you remember who signed your diploma apart from the president L.J. Rosenkrantz?

Hi Fernando,well I got my Diploma on Radio, TV and Electronics iñ march 1962, couldn’t go to LA so I left for England in May of that year.I don’t remember who signed my Diploma but I think LJ’s name was on it.I do remember his signature as he had a special way that he did it.However, I still have in my possession the little introduction card given on joining NTS as a student.I became later, a TV service engineer and later joined Honeywell Controls syst. as a tech rep.Ever so grateful to LJ for his good works…joe

A colleague of mine in the UK told me that his brother had done the Radio,TV and Electronics course, and when Colour TV was introduced to the UK, he had a head start on many of the TV Repair Technicians.

Ese señor L J Rosenkranz es el mismo que aparece firmando el diploma de mi padre de Diesel y Mecánica Automotriz a comienzos de 1952.
Mi padre que estudió su curso por correspondencia cuando tenía entre 25 y 29 años; trabajó como mecánico diesel en su juventud hasta que se pensionó como tal a mediados de los años 70s. El falleció a fines de 2019 casi a los 98 años! El guardaba con cariño las lecciones de la N. SCHOOLS y yo las conservaré como testimonio de su esfuerzo y disciplina!

Yo estudié por correo en esa escuela estudié técnico Enel campo de radio y television

Wonderful nostalgia so real I could almost smell donuts and hamburgers frying. An American success story from a well known family with lots of (Rosecrans) streets named in their honor. I loved the ending that describes one man’s experiences after he trained at National and verified all the details by interviewing his brother. The moral of John’s life as told by his brother Peter was that one man’s education, willingness and gratitude led to a life long contentment. Thank you!

to know that the NTS building no longer exists makes me feel sad I am from Honduras and I graduated from electronics in February 1985 here I used my technical knowledge learned at NTS and used to work by Lucent Technologies. i wil never forget the time during I was studying at NTS and hope one day find any of my classmates

I was a student on Radio, TV and Electronics from 1959 to 1962 and achieved a Diploma. Was offered a six months in the Lab but could not get a visa to attend Santa Barbara for lack of support.
Like to hear from anyone from those times

I am Fernando Avella of BELIZE, at around 1970? I studied by postal service from this school. I made my diploma on Automotive Mechanics and Diesel Master Course, sometime in 1972-1973?. It was fun to study from a school so far, but I had time then and in about 3 years I earned my diploma. I lost my diploma to hurricanes but I remember that it was signed by the school president : L.J. Rosenkrantz, others also signed my diploma but I don`t remember them. Hi to all the Rosenkrantz.

Hola aún existe el curso de ingles

Nada existe, no existe ni la escuela. Estoy triste , you recibi my diplome de esa escuela. Aunque perdi mi diploma por los huracanes, un dia esa escuela me lleno de alegria.

Hola, Fernando soy de Colombia y como tú también estudie en la NS, terminé en 1985 Electricidad, Refrigeración y Acondicionamiento de Aire. actualmente estoy a pocos dias de mi pensión y trabajo como electromecánico en refrigeración industrial en una empresa láctea. me alegra mucho saber de personas que han estudiado en esa escuela. Un saludo.

Al fin has buscado otro diploma? Por algun lugar dicen de que el student records esta guardado. Pero you no puedo encontrar otro diploma.

Gracias, fui estudiante de las escuelas y con la bondad de Dios aun tengo mucho manuales guardado pues la enseñanza y explicación del curso me cautivaron para formarme como ingeniero.
Sería muy bueno qué se vuelva a realizar este tipo de curso para todas las áreas tanto en la técnica de ramas profesionales de todas las áreas conocida por el ser humano.

I still remember with great appreciation and nostalgia my course by correspondence of electronics and TV repair back in the seventies. What a good quality of education and the kits that came in course helped me a good deal in further studies in engineering. No matter the building was demolished what matters is the thousands of young people this school helped to improve their lives.

Ca appartenais a mon grand père quand il a étudié chez vous


Well said Juan, it helped me or course.

Hola soy de Panamá, mi Papa estudio allí por correspondencia, pero no obtuvo su certificado, el tiene un taller y se ha dedicado a reparar de todo pero sueña con tener su certificado.y recuerda siempre la escuela National School.

Had the opportunity to study English in NTS thanks to my decision to do it I pass the exam in Pasadena City College and was accepted as a student, for long time I kept my lesson in records to sad that I got rid of them.
Thank you

Yo estudié electricidad en los años de 1985 1988 lo recuerdo con nostalgia y con gusto pues gracias a eso sobresali un poco en mi trayecto en la vida

Can someone kindly help me to find another diploma, my diploma was lost due to hurricanes. I attended( around 1970? 1972) by postal mail service; The National Technical Schools of Los Angeles Ca.

Hi! My name is Jorge Vargas. I am writing a book about my dad. His name is Vicente Vargas. at an airport in David, Chiriqui, where we lived. My dad decided to take the diesel engine mechanic correspondence course and obtained his diploma in 1961. Later, the Panamanian Air Force was founded in Panama and he was chosen to be a helicopter mechanic. In 1969 he took 17 courses in the USAF and graduated as a maintenance supervisor for T-53 engines on the UH-1B helicopter. All thanks to that course he received at the National Schools. My father was very… Read more »

Que bonita historia! Ojala logre escribir el libro en memoria de el buen ejemplo de su padre!
Cordial saludo desde Bogotá, Colombia.

i woul like to know when the school was cloed?

Estuvo 86 anos en operacion.
Yo estudie entre 1968 y 69 el curso de Mecanico Automotriz.
Y me sirvio de base para estudiar Ingenieria Mecanica.
El hecho de que se me considero un buen Ingeniero . Sin duda
se lo debo en parte a que llegue a estudiar Ingeniera, siendo
ya un tecnico.
En Mexico distribuian las lecciones desde Av Morelos 85 .

Hello Fernando. Thank you so much for the history of NTS. My name is Clara from Nigeria. I was going through my Daddy boxes piled up in the store room and l saw his admission letter to the school to study Radio/TV Repair courses in 1979. I goggled the school and l couldn’t find their website until l saw this and l see the reason why l can’t locate. I want enroll my son in the schools l feel so sad about the situation. Such a great school

Quiero mucho esa escuela.realice.un curso de radio televisión y electrónica.en el año 1980.y lo termine .con mi título.muchsd gracias

Greetings I urgently need to communicate with that precious institution

Estudié en 1991 y me interesa saber si todavía funciona.

en 1974 estudie diesel y gasolina y cuando obtube mi diploma ocupe el puesto de instructor en compania del instructor jesus f lizarraga jorje lalut roberto bargas el presidenteo parma director de educacion richard e lombardo estaba en la hoy adams y figueroa no recuerdo vie en seguida cerraron ahora en 2022 cuento con 82 anos no creo que mis companeros me recuenden o esten en la tierra uno de mis instructores qoe me dejo un grupo de espa nol mister tanoya mister (t)

Hola Sr Martínez, yo estudié también en NTS y acabé por el 84, también tuve al mister T de profesor, era un profesor Japonés de los buenos, muy entretenido

Deseo conseguir una copia de mi diploma de electronia de 1989

Siento mucho que NATIONAL SCHHOLS ya no exista. Mantengo el curso de REPARACIÓN DE RADIOS que mi padre siguió por correspondencia el cual lo he empastado, consta de cinco tomos. Gracias a este curso eredado de mi padre me inicié en ésta maravillosa tecnología, desde las válvulas electrónicas hasta los semiconductores y IC. Este curso seguido por mi padre debe haber sido en la década de 1940, como referencia sito una lección de TV en la que la cámara de televisión consistía en un disco con agujeros que realizaba un barrido de luz en el rostro de una persona; el… Read more »

Mi Nombre Juan B. Montán, Nativo De La Republica Dominicana…Estudié Mecanica Automotriz, Industrial Y Diesel, En La Prestigiosa Escuela National School. Me Gradué El Día 18 De Septiembre Del Año 1972, Justamente Hace Justamente 50 Años.
Me Siento Orgulloso De Ser Egresado De Tan Prestigiosa Institución…Mi Eterna Gratitud !!!

Last edited 1 year ago by Juan B Montan

My uncle (RIP) bought all the Radio technician in the 50s, I wonder what would happened to the school. It is sad…

Mi abuelo estudió allí ….


This is the my father’s Diploma from National Schools in 1959 . We are from Portugal

Diploma National Schools Pai.jpg

Estimados señores reciban mi cordial saludo es grato dirigirme a ustedes para comunicarles que he sido unos de los alumnos de su prestigiada escuela formadores de técnicos en los años 1978 que concluí de estudiar mi código de alumno era EK- 16511 ISMAEL NECIOSUP LOPEZ CURSO ELECTRICIDAD, REFRIGERACION Y ACONDICIONAMIENTO DE AIRE LUGAR DE RECIDENCIA PERU Por motivo del cambio de la reforma educativa en nuestro pías no recibí el certificado de estudios de haber terminado solo una constancia firmada por el director MANUEL L BASURTO A director en Perú, durante el tiempo laboral me he desempeñado como supervisor electricista… Read more »


Vrena Bender previous youth and early marriage to anOrthodox Jew with children. Family history from my mother contradicts rumors and other texts presented on Google.
Please respond if interested.

I am from the Caribbean and have completed my Automotive Mechanic and Diesel Master Course in the early 1970’s. This was one of the most concise courses which I’ve ever undertaken.

The NATIONAL TECHNICAL SCHOOLS should not have been closed Down.
This school trained a lot of people-and made a prosperous future for them.

I graduated as an electronic technician at NTS around 1979 and I lost my diploma, Does any body know how get a copy ? please contact me : thanks

Mi Nombre es Fernando Arias Guzman de Colombia. Estudié Mecanica Automotriz, Industrial y Diesel, en ese entonces porestigiosa Escuela National School de lods Ángeles California. El 16 de Septiembre de 1981 recibí mi diploma. que anexo. Me Siento Orgulloso De Ser Egresado De Tan Prestigiosa Institución. Este me sirvió para ingresar a Proyecto Minero tan Importante como el de INTERCOR hoy CERREJON coal mine. Será que me sirve este estudio para solicitar visa de trabajo en US??

1981.09.16 National Schools MAID.jpg

Cómo podría hacer para aserle un regalo a mi abuelo el se graduó hace unos 40 años y no pudo recibir el diploma alguien podría ayudarme

Mi abuelo se llama lusi Arnulfo riascos

Mi abuelo estudio hay mecánica automotriz y estoy muy orgulloso ya q sige dedicado ala mecánica me encantaria poder recuperar el diploma de el el se llama Luis Arnulfo Riascos número de matrícula 44512875


I am a proud student from NTS, I was there from 1983 to 1984 Automotive Technology and Diésel Engines, excellent teachers and friends. I remember Augusto Guerra from the office staff

Most beautiful, thanks to all of you kind people that made this post , it really melts my heart. See, I studied by airmail correspondence with National Technical Schools. And I am not too sure if I should say airmail, it can be that is was surface mail because of the time my lessons took to arrive to my country of Belize, BELIZE. I graduated and received my diploma on “AUTOMOTIVE MECHANICS AND DIESEL MASTER COURSE” around 1970`s . I lost my diploma 2 times to hurricanes that hit my country. I still cannot find where to get another diploma… Read more »

Mi padre estudio Mecánica Automotriz Industrial y Diesel aproximadamente en el año 1971, aún conserva muchas de sus lecciones, por muchos años fue un excelente mecánico y aún se expresa haber aprendido mucho gracias a sus estudios por correspondencia, he tenido la necesidad de conocer la historio de la Educación a Distancia para complementar los curso que imparto hoy en día.
Gracias por el articulo ha sido de gran ayuda, desde el estado de Veracruz

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