History of the Lighthouse

In the latter part of the 1940's, several concerned residents informally met to discuss the growing needs relevant to establishing a facility specifically designed for the legally and totally blind in the Inland Empire. Said efforts culminated in the purchase of a suitable residence located at 128 West 8th Street in San Bernardino in 1951. 

On June 20,1951, the Lighthouse submitted all the necessary forms to the Secretary of State of California and became a private, nonprofit corporation. In the ensuing years, this fledgling community service organization experienced each and every growing pain imaginable.

Then in 1968, the late J. Dale Gentry purchased our original 4,400 sq. foot building for the benefit of all the legally and totally blind in the Inland Empire.  Also, Mr. Gentry possessed the insight to provide two passenger vans for greater participation in Lighthouse classes and enrichment trips to points of interest throughout Southern California.  Today this transportation system has grown to 7 vans, each with a 15 passenger capacity.

Services for the Blind

In 1979, the Lighthouse Board of Directors envisioned the need to acquire additional property for future purposes of expansion. Five adjacent pieces of property to the West of the Lighthouse were purchased on Vine Street and four pieces on 8th Street. This provided slightly over two acres on the city block. On October 13, 1988, ground breaking ceremonies took place. An expansion of 24,000 sq. ft. was completed for classes on September 5, 1989.

The final significant development in the history of the Lighthouse was selling the Lighthouse school and property located at 8th and Sierra Way to the “San Bernardino City Unified School District” for construction of a new elementary school. The following events are noteworthy relevant to the development of our new school at 359 East Parkcenter Circle South in San Bernardino:


May 4, 2004 – School District expresses interest in purchase of Lighthouse property


• December 12, 2007 – School District makes offer to purchase Lighthouse property


• June 18, 2008 – Lighthouse Board of Directors authorizes sale of Lighthouse property


• June 1, 2009 Lighthouse makes offer to purchase building on Parkcenter Circle South


• February 1, 2010 – Tenant improvements commence


• July 31, 2010 – Tenant improvements conclude


• August 3, 2010 – First day of classes at 359 East Parkcenter Circle South


• March 10, 2011 – Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

 Our blind students are most grateful to all their friends in the Inland Empire who have made their dreams come true.