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Renton (D. M.) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: D. M. Renton papers
    Creator: Renton, D. M., 1878-1947
    Identifier/Call Number: mssRenton
    Physical Description: 2.08 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1916-1936
    Abstract: A collection of correspondence between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley, Jr., concerning the development of Santa Catalina Island under Wrigley ownership.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. D. M. Renton papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of David Renton, December 2020.

    Biographical / Historical

    David Malcolm Renton, known as D. M., was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on February 8, 1878; he was the son of John Renton, a house and ship builder, and Catherine (Nicholson) Renton. At the age of 16, D. M. Renton moved to Massachusetts to train as a carpenter and at the same time attended night school for his education. He moved to Southern California in 1902, to establish a building company. After this company disbanded, Renton went on to work as a general contractor; one of his first jobs was building an observation tower on Mt. Wilson. Renton also began to build Craftsman-style homes in Pasadena, California. Renton met William Wrigley, Jr., in 1919, when he was hired to build homes for Wrigley in Pasadena. That same year, Wrigley bought Santa Catalina Island and began, over the years, to improve the island by building public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Wrigley, who lived mainly in Chicago, hired Renton to oversee all the extensive building on the island and he also served as vice president of the Santa Catalina Island Company. Renton first married Elizabeth Blaisdell Ryder and they had two sons: Malcolm Joseph Renton and Arthur Lincoln Renton. Elizabeth died in 1935 and Renton married Isabel Blanche Cline in 1937. When Renton retired in 1936, he lived at a cattle ranch in Atascadero, California, "Rancho Santa Catalina," until he died in 1947.

    Scope and Contents

    A collection of correspondence and business records dealing with the history of Santa Catalina Island, California. The vast bulk of the collection consists of letters between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley concerning operations of Wrigley enterprises on Santa Catalina Island, including Renton's ongoing management of the multiple enterprises on the island. Renton's letters detail visitation, public services ranging from food to entertainment, development of new facilities from the Casino ballroom to an on-island hospital; the letters also describe construction work to improve access to clean potable water, and the mining operations for lead, silver and zinc, and the ongoing labor to extract them. The letters also describe the Hollywood studios using the island for filming and the use of the island for baseball training and games. The letters also include correspondence with Ferdinand Ellerman, Herbert Hoover, Lawrence Mott, Johnny Noble, Joseph H. Patrick, Hugh Rodman, John Wayne, Ada Elizabeth Wrigley, and Philip Wrigley. The business records include monthly expense and revenue reports for the island, meeting minutes and correspondence for the Santa Catalina Island Company. The correspondence includes telegrams, autograph, typewritten, and carbon copied letters; the D. M. Renton and William Wrigley correspondence also includes letters from other suppliers, businesses, and corporate partners. The business records include correspondence, meeting minutes, expense and revenue reports. The collection also includes an autobiography written by D. M. Renton upon his retirement from the Santa Catalina Island Company; newspaper clippings, business cards, and U. S. patent papers for a stone spreader. Some of the letters are incomplete, and a small number have sustained water damage. The letters and other material are between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley unless otherwise noted.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Gayle M. Richardson in February 2023. A large number of the letters contain penciled numbers in the bottom right corner of the page, these numbers were added by the Renton family before the material was donated to the Huntington; these numbers have not been noted on the folders or in the finding aid.


    Arranged chronologically.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Baseball -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Building construction -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
    Coastwise shipping -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century
    Foreign workers, Mexican -- California
    Labor unions -- California -- History -- 20th century
    Mines and mineral resources -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
    Motion picture industry -- California
    Motion picture locations -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
    Water-supply -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
    California, Southern -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
    Chicago (Ill.) -- History -- 20th century
    Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- Description and travel
    Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century
    United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century
    Business records -- United States -- 20th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century
    Ellerman, Ferdinand, 1869-1940
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
    Mott, Lawrence, 1881-1931
    Noble, Johnny, 1892-1944
    Patrick, Joseph H.
    Rodman, Hugh, 1859-1940
    Wayne, John, 1907-1979
    Wrigley, Ada Elizabeth, 1868-1958
    Wrigley, Philip K. (Philip Knight), 1894-1977
    Wrigley, William, 1861-1932
    Chicago Cubs (Baseball team)
    Santa Catalina Island Company
    Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company