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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


LEO KROONEN. A master of his profession as an architect, a thoroughly capable business executive, Leo Kroonen during his long residence at Corona has put his faculties and influence behind every notable project for the general welfare, and the community owes him a great debt for the thoroughly constructive work he has done here and in the vicinity.

Mr. Kroonen was born at Uithoom, eighteen miles from Amsterdam, Holland, March 31, 1857, son of Peter and Amelia (Koiman) Kroonen. He was reared and educated in his native city, served an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade, also studied architecture, and had earned a high place in that profession in Holland before he left there at the age of twenty-eight and came to the United States. Before coming to California Mr. Kroonen had practiced as an architect at St. Louis, Missouri, at Galveston and Fort Worth, Texas, and on the Pacific Coast he was located six months at Los Angeles and then at Claremont, until he located at Corona.

As an architect and contractor Mr. Kroonen has a long list of notable buildings to his credit. He put up the high school, city hall, grammar school, most of the fruit packing houses at Corona, the San Jacinto grammar school in Riverside County, the chemical plant and packing house at El Cerrito ranch, and a large number of the costly and tasteful residences. Mr. Kroonen has been an investor and developer in the Corona fruit section and owned the oldest grove and shipped the first oranges, also served as a director for two years of the Temescal Water Company, and for four years was a director of the First Exchange Association of Corona and helped organize it. However, his most important interests have been in the line of developing and exploiting some peculiarly rich and valuable natural resources of the vicinity of Corona. An article published several years ago gives a description of these properties which may be properly included here for historical purposes:

“His holdings cover an area of about 700 acres altogether, and. he has already spent many thousands of dollars in preliminary development work in the twenty-four years that lie has 6wtted the 'properties. On 160 acres of the cement property alone an expert engineer has estimated that the outcroppings show sufficient, almost pure, cement rock to operate a cement plant of 2500 barrels daily capacity for over two hundred years, and analysis by the best cement experts in the country show that a perfect Portland cement can be made from the materials in the deposit, also that all transporting of rock from cement beds to plant can be done by gravity, and that under these conditions the highest grade of Portland cement can be manufactured for 56 1/6 cents per barrel, after due allowance for interest and depreciation on plant, according to report made February 11, 1906.

“Mr. Kroonen's clay properties are situated three miles west of Corona and the same distance from the Santa Fe Railroad, and contains 200 acres. The deposit is well developed, having 1900 feet of tunnel work to show the extent of the different kinds of materials, the whole mountain being a mass of clay, lying in strata from 50 to 500 feet in thickness and extending from 200 to 1000 feet above the road bed. The stratified deposit of rich, pure, blue vitrifying clay, flint clay, plastic clay and modeling clay, each perfect in texture and composition, is suitable for the manufacture of all kinds of vitrified ware, sewer pipe, electric conduit, street clinker, paving blocks, face brick glazed and unglazed, roofing tile, floor tile, terra cotta, drain tile, etc., as well as fire brick of all kinds. All the clays can be taken from deposits by open quarry in one canyon, where the canyon crosses the deposit and exposes the clay for hundreds of yards on either side, with a height above the road bed of from 200 to 800 feet, and as the deposit extends for three-fourths of a mile on each side of the canyon it will be readily seen that the materials are inexhaustible."

Mr. Kroonen is a republican in politics. On June 30, 1889, he married Miss Mary Walkenshaw, of Auburndale, California. She was born on the Jureupa Ranch in San Bernardino County on September 18, 1869, and was educated in the public schools. They have three children: Leo Lorenzo, born July 3, 1899, at Ventura; Oscar William, born November 21, 1901, at home; and Mary Cornelia, born February 24, 1905.

History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011