Thursday, December 28, 2006

Corona del Mar, Disneyland, Villa Park, etc.

Today's photo shows the Hotel Del Mar (ca 1905) in Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach.
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The OC Genealogical Society is holding a bunch of seminars on Jan 7th at the Huntington Beach Public Library. See their website for details.
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"...Register reporter Sarah Tully is soliciting public memories of Disneyland’s old Submarine Voyage ride, to possibly include in a future story," says Colleen Robledo at the OCHCC blog. Read more.
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Speaking of Disneyland memories, the newly released DVD set, "Your Host, Walt Disney" has some great previously unreleased material in it. The "Disneyland '59" special (half from kinescopes half from film) is particularly interesting, with aerial footage of south Anaheim, the introduction of the Submarine Voyage and Matterhorn, and the dedication of the monorail by Vice President Nixon and his family. The set also includes the previously-issued Disneyland "10th Anniversary Special", in which Walt introduces us to his top creative employees and shows us how they're developing such "upcoming" attractions as Pirates of the Carribean and the Haunted Mansion. See Amazon for details.
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O.C.'s last operational packing house -- Villa Park Orchards Assoc (now owned by Chapman University) -- has a new tennant. According to the Register, the Prime Produce International is using the historic building to pack avacados.
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If you haven't already visited the Abandoned SoCal Airfields website, you might want to check it out. I've found their Orange County information useful more than once.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa at the Archives and other news

We know Christmas is almost here when Santa makes his annual visit to the Orange County Archives. (He has to check all our maps before his big run, dontchaknow?)
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Yes, I’ve been flaky about posting recently, and that will probably continue through the holidays. So if you don’t hear from me before then, I’d like to wish you all a merry Christmas and happy New Year. Meanwhile, here are a few items of interest…

  • Watch for the float celebrating Anaheim’s 150th birthday during the Rose Parade.
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  • The City of Laguna Hills is commissioning an artistic display for City Hall depicting the area’s history. Sort of an “Indians to Condos” theme, I guess. Applications for artists will be available late next month.
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  • The Register reports that developers are busily tearing apart what’s left of historic MCAS El Toro. Good thing we won’t need all those military bases anymore, now that the Cold War is over, all the bad guys are gone, and the whole world loves America.
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  • The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society’s next downtown walking tour will be on Sat., Jan. 6th, starting at the Howe-Waffle House at 2:30pm and ending about 4:30. For reservations call (714) 547-9645.
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  • Dann Gibb is still looking for old Fountain Valley photos for his forthcoming book. He’s especially interested in finding photos of F.V. from the 1920s through 1940s, and photos of planes taking off from what is now Mile Square Park. Email him if you can help.
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  • The La Habra Children’s Museum will celebrate their 30th Anniversary on Jan. 29th, with an open house from 5 to 9pm. No, it’s not primarily a local history museum, but it’s in a historically significant building and it does have a display or two on early La Habra.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tustin LTA hangars

Here's a link to the Register's article about the Tustin air hangar re-use. The article is headed as follows: "Military museum plan loses out. Supervisors OK making the Tustin north blimp hangar into a gigantic sports complex for $100 million."
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As much as I'd like to see the hangars remain hangars, (with miles of empty space around them,) the odds of that happening in Orange "Pave Everything" County are basically nil. And the military museum idea never developed the broad base of support it needed. As such, I'm in favor of an adaptive re-use that saves at least one of these historically and architecturally significant structures.

Monday, December 18, 2006

One historic home each week

The City of Anaheim's Neighborhood Preservation office will be posting "before and after" photos of 43 historic Anaheim houses on the city's website. One additional home will be posted each week, starting with 214 W. Broadway, "a multi-unit property beautifully restored by Gail and Eric Kramer." An album of all the homes in this series can also be seen at the [semi-temporary] Anaheim History Room, 5th floor, City Hall West.
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The image above shows the Mother Colony House on West St.
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Link: Anaheim Neighborhood Preservation: Before & After
Link: Anaheim 150
Link: Anaheim Colony

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nixon, Trains, Disney & Christmas

The current exhibit at the Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda features more than 100 toy trains from throughout the last century, including Walt Disney’s rarely-exhibited backyard steam locomotive, the Lilly Belle. Other items in the exhibit include…
  • A chunk of the original Mark I Alweg-Disneyland Monorail, dedicated by Vice President Richard Nixon and his family in 1956. (See photo above.)
  • A section from the 1960 Presidential campaign whistlestop platform used by Nixon.
  • A beautiful scale model of the P.E. "Red Car" that Frank Nixon used to work on.
  • More than 100 scenic miniatures from Dept. 56.
  • Antique toys and collectibles, including a Marx Super Circus play set.

A Holiday Festival of Trains will be on display through Sun, Jan 7, 2007, included with museum admission. For more information, visit www.nixonlibrary.org, or call (714) 993-3393.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Original Rossmoor homeowners

In 2007, the community of Rossmoor will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The kick-off event will be a free luncheon for original Rossmoor homeowners, on Feb. 8th at the Old Ranch Country Club. If you were among the first families in town, call Bill Gekler at (562) 431-0256 to make reservations.

If you're an original homeowner but can't attend the luncheon, they would still like to hear from you, as they are compiling a list of Rossmoor's "pioneers."

More information about upcoming Rossmoor anniversary events, including a parade and picnic, is available online.

Also, if you would like volunteer for the Anniversary Committee, call (562) 799-1401.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Newport Harbor Nautical Museum preview center

The Preview Center for the new home of the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum will open to the public on Dec. 22nd in the Balboa Fun Zone. The hours will be Fri-Sun, 11 am - 6 pm. The multi-media Preview Center features "highlights from [their] permanent collection, interactive exhibits, and architectural renderings" of the forthcoming museum.

Yes, but will the new museum have skee-ball, hot dogs and a "Scary Dark Ride?"

Book sale ($2-per-bag) in Tustin

What local historian doesn't love a good used book sale? The Friends of the Tustin Library will hold a $2-a-bag book sale from noon to 4pm this Sunday. (Members get to start shopping earlier at 10am.) The Tustin Library is located in the Tustin Civic Center at 345 E. Main St.

And remember, many local libraries, like Huntington Beach and Santa Ana, have perpetual Friends of the Library book sales. Life is good.

St. Joe's & Orange Community Historical Society

The public is invited to attend the Orange Community Historical Society’s Annual Dinner on Thurs., Jan. 25th in at the O.C. Medical Association building in Orange. The program will focus on the history of Orange’s St. Joseph Hospital, and features two speakers: Sister Mary Therese Sweeney, who has written extensively on the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph and is the Director of Mental Health for the St. Joseph Health System, and Julie Holt, V.P. of the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation.

Cocktails start at 6 pm. Dinner (catered by Turnip Rose) starts at 7 pm. Seating is limited. $45 per person. Send payment to OCHS Annual Dinner, PO Box 5484, Orange, CA 92863. Payment (checks payable to OCHS) must be received by Jan. 20. For more info, call Jane Carmichael at (714) 998-1512 or Helen Walker at (714) 538-8909.

The Sisters of St. Joseph came to Orange in 1922 and acquired the Burnham Ranch property on S. Batavia, where the St. Joseph campus still stands. Seven years later, they opened a 109-room hospital in Orange—their first Southern California hospital.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Yesterland Christmas

I love Disneyland at Christmastime -- at least when the crowds aren't too bad. And while I'm not going to get there in person this year, Werner Weiss of Yesterland is giving us all a little peek back at Disneyland Christmases Past.

Yesterland has been a favorite site of mine for years. It features all the Disneyland attractions and elements that have disappeared over the decades. Their most recent article is about the old Disneyland Hotel Tram. (Yes, the site really is that detail-oriented.)

Parasol renovation delayed

The ongoing saga of the Parasol Restaurant in Seal Beach continued today in the Register. It seems the landlord and tenant (Mel's Drive-In) are still negotiating the iconic building's exterior appearance after its "renovation." This means the process of restoring/reopening the place is behind schedule. However, if it weren't for the efforts of locals and preservationists, it's unlikely this classic space-age coffee shop would still be standing at all. The original plan was to demolish it during the remodeling of the adjoining shopping center. Chalk one up for the good guys!

Orange County Illustrated, Troubleman Cottage, etc

The O.C. Archives just aquired a bound set of Orange County Illustrated magazine. Although missing two volumes (1962-63 and 1970) this will still be a great resource for anyone who wants to know more about O.C. in the 1960s and '70s. (And if you stumble across the missing volumes at a yard sale somewhere, please send me an email.)

This is the last week to see "The Anaheim Home Companion": A stage play celebrating the history of Anaheim. The play runs through Dec. 17th at the Chance Theater in Anaheim.

Fullerton Union High School's Academy of the Arts will sell wall calendars for 2007 illustrated with photos of FUHS's taken between 1893 and 1950. (Link)

Capistrano planners turned thumbs down on removing an old tree in order to relocate the Troubleman Cottage. The owner plans to appeal to the City Council.

Needs old Fountain Valley photos

Dann Gibb has taken on a difficult but worthwhile task: Compiling a visual history of Fountain Valley for Arcadia Press. He's really done his homework and has already compiled some great images and stories, but he still needs more old photos of the area.

As a reminder, the town of Fountain Valley was formerly known as Talbert, and the current city boundaries also encompass the historic community of Colonia Juarez and part of Newhope.

If you have (or know where he can find) additional photos of historic Fountain Valley, please contact Dann via email.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Researching O.C.'s War Dead

I found this on an obscure corner of the Register's website:

"At least 1,000 men and women from Orange County have died in military service during America's wars but over time, their sacrifice often fades away. The O.C. Register is embarking on an online project to recognize all these veterans with a picture, summation of their service, and, where more information exists, links to those online sites. If you know of a service man or woman from O.C. killed in action during any armed conflict, please look for them here."
Register staff currently working on this project include Colleen Robledo and Jeff Rowe.

Link: O.C.'s Fallen War Heroes (Register)

San Clemente Historic Home Owners Coffee Club

Real estate agent Dena Van Slyke has a Historic Home Owners Coffee Club for the San Clemente area. They meet every "two or three months to share cake and contractor stories. Each time we hold the party at a different historic property so we can take a tour and see what others have done." It sounds like they've had some interesting speakers, too.

And let's face it,... Anyone who tackles the restoration of a historic home is going to need a support group eventually.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Newport Harbor and "The Skipper"

I just stumbled across an interesting Newport Harbor-related item on eBay: "You are looking at a Ohio Art sand pail made especially for M. Clark Co L.A. Cal." It features a map of the area from Huntington Beach to Laguna and also depicts "The Skipper" -- a little character who appeared on Newport Beach promotional materials many decades ago.

I'm not sure if this is an original or a reproduction, but I either way, I don't have $100 to spend on a bucket.

Link: Sand pail auction

Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years, 1954-1988

Don Ballard has written a history of the Disneyland Hotel that provides both interesting reading and abundant eye-candy. Anyone with an interest in the history of Disneyland, O.C. tourism, or the hospitality industry should take a look. Check out Don's website for a sample of what you can expect, as well as some additional images he couldn't find space for in the book.

Link: Magical Hotel (Don Ballard)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Local history news from the O.C. Register

A few items of historical interest, culled from recent issues of the Orange County Register:
  • The City of Irvine celebrated it's 35th Anniversary last Friday, Dec. 8th.
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  • Lake Forest is celebrating their 15th Anniversary with an essay contest.
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  • This weekend's article on famed hot rod artist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth noted his connections to O.C., including his years working at Knott's and Movieland's Cars of the Stars Museum. However, the article missed a related twist of history. Five points if you can name the O.C. elected offical whose first job was working with Roth at the Cars of the Stars Museum.
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  • Tustin High School is selling old yearbooks for $20 each. Available years include 1968, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1994 through 2002, 2004 and 2005. Interested? Call (714) 730-7422.
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  • Down in San Juan Capistrano they're having trouble moving the historic Troubleman Cottage to it's new home at 31476 La Calera St. Seems there's an ash tree in the way. The Planning Commission will discuss this tomorrow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Author's Night at O.C. Historical Society

The Orange County Historical Society's next meeting will be an "Authors' Night." Authors of recent local history titles will disucuss and sign their books. Authors will include Guy Ball, Phil Brigandi, Jeff Delaney, Steve Faessel, Terry Thomas, Christopher Trela, and Doris Walker. (Bowers' renovation explains the temporary venue change.)

Thurs., Dec. 14th , 7:30pm
Trinity Episcopal Church of Orange
2400 N. Canal St., Orange

I also understand that organist Randall Woltz will perform. I wonder if he has sheet music for such forgotten SoCal tunes as "Fullerton, My Fullerton," "Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga Sewing Circle," and "It's Always Orange Day In California."

Links Added

I've added links to most of the O.C. historical organizations and collections I could think of, plus a few other useful sites. If I've forgotten anyone, please let me know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Weekend Holiday Events

Holiday Open House
Old Orange County Courthouse
Refreshements and schmoozing with nice people. Free.
211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana (714) 973-6610
Fri., Dec. 8, Noon-5:00pm

Annual Christmas Party
Anaheim Historical Society
Light refreshments, music and fellowship at the historic Woelke-Stoffel House (1892).
418 N. West St., Anaheim
Fri., Dec. 8, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Holiday Open House
Newland House Museum (H.B. Hist. Soc.)
Tours, refreshments, live holiday music and a craft fair. Free.
19820 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach
Fri., Dec. 8, 4:00pm-9:30pm, and
Sat., Dec. 9, 10:00am-4:00pm

Annual Candlelight Tour
Heritage Hill Historical Park
Over 1,000 luminarias light the way to historic buildings, lit up for the holidays. Live music, refreshments, dancers, and photos with Santa. Admission: $4 adults. $3 children 3-12.
25151 Serrano Rd, Lake Forest (949) 923-2230
Sat., Dec. 9, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Sun., Dec. 10, 5:30pm-8:30pm

(Note: Photo above is from Christmas 2005 at the Newland House.)

A New Blog: O.C. History Roundup

This blog is intended to serve local historians and those who are just generally interested in the history of Orange County, California. Everyone is welcome to participate, comment, or send me relevant event notices.

For the record, anything I write for this blog is based in my own views and is unrelated to the views of any groups I belong to or employers I work for. I'll be working on this blog from home in whatever spare time I may have.

You might well ask: If this is a new blog, where did the earlier entries about Huntington Beach come from?

I started out writing a very different blog, H.B. Outlook, which was usually about current events in Huntington Beach, but which also included some local history content from time to time. After half a year of blogging, it became clear that my history-related posts were garnering the most interest and were more enjoyable to write. Also, my posts about current events were generating more arguments and fewer constructive discussions than I'd hoped for. Anyway, I've saved some of the older history-related posts from H.B. Outlook and included them here.

In most O.C. History Roundup posts, I will try to include an image or two. Today's is the cover of a Nov. 1905 supplement to the Santa Ana Blade (newspaper), depicting the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Southeast Huntington Beach history

Some months ago, I threw together a small website about the history of Southeastern Huntington Beach. This area was once known as the Santa Ana Gap or Talbert Gap (among other things). This river delta between the H.B. mesa and the Costa Mesa bluffs wasn't incorporated as part of the City until the 1950s.

The photo above is from February 1960. The camera is pointed West along Atlanta Ave, with the photographer standing in front of the current post office near Magnolia. Today, you'd see the Albertson's and Vons' parking lots on the right, and miles of housing tracts on the left.

Link: Talbert Gap

Friday, September 29, 2006

Remembering Villa Sweden

Anyone who remembers Huntington Beach in the last half of the 20th Century will remember the Villa Sweden smorgasbord at 552 Main St. They were known for their wholesome all-you-can eat fare and reasonable prices.

As a kid, the Swedish meatballs, dark limpa bread and jello deserts were my favorites. Many of their selections would have been right at home at any Midwestern family potluck: From cabbage roll to carrot-raisin salad.

The Backlund family came to America from Sweden in 1951 and opened the restaurant in 1961. It closed sometime between 1984 and 1990. (Anyone have an exact date?) The building now houses the Shore House Cafe.

The image above is from an Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce guidebook, circa 1974.

Link: More photos.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Last round-up for Rustler Sam?

It was bad enough when Golden West College PC-ized their cowboy mascot, Rustler Sam, by removing his cigarette and stubble. But now they want to put him on a surfboard or run him out of town altogether. Some consultant convinced GWC that their beach-side location (over three miles inland) meant they needed a new nautical mascot.

In March 1966, just months before GWC opened, a College Council of students, administrators and instructors voted to adopt the "Rustlers" name. Some of the also-ran nominations were the Batmen, the Gladiators, the Crusaders, and the Bruisers (with black and blue school colors).

A few years later, Rustler Sam was designed for GWC by "Tumbleweeds" comic strip creator Tom K. Ryan. I'll be the first to admit that Sam is goofy looking. But that's his charm.

If the students and alumni had decided on their own to nix their mascot, that would be fine. I could even understand the arguement that rustlers were criminals and that Sam should be re-christened Cowboy Sam or Marshall Sam. But ending a tradition on the advice of a consultant just stinks.

Link: Register article.
Link: L.A. Times article.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Evangeline Update?

Yesterday, the Register broke the "news" that the Evangeline Hotel (1906) at 421 8th St., (a.k.a. The Colonial Inn hostel), had been purchased. The timing of the story puzzled me and other O.C. historians who heard about it closing escrow over a month ago.

Regardless of the timing, this is good news. The Evangeline was in immediate danger of being torn down before these buyers came along. Now it seems the building will be restored and put to some good use.

There aren't many buildings left from H.B.'s pre-oil years, and the Evangeline is one of the most historically interesting. For instance: Among its earliest guest were Civil War vets attending the Grand Army of the Republic conventions at the old H.B. Methodist Campground. (The photo above shows some of these men and their family members on the porch of the hotel.)

The Evangeline has craftsman lines, a redwood frame, and still features a large carriage barn in back. On the front curb you'll still find metal rings to tether your horse.

Rumors for the future include conversion to a bed and breakfast, a woman’s retreat, or simply a humongous house. Personally, I'll be happy with almost any re-use that involves a responsible restoration of the building.

Link: Register article

Friday, September 08, 2006

Nostalgic for Huntington Center

Bella Terra is having their belated grand opening this weekend. Their PR people are calling Bella Terra "Huntington Beach's lifestyle center." Who knew our “lifestyle” was defined by a faux-Italian shopping center?

Personally, I still miss Huntington Center. Sadly, as the middle class was pushed out of Orange County, the businesses that served them (e.g. most of the stores in Huntington Center) fell by the wayside. Now we have Wal-Mart and Nordstrom’s, and not much in between. .
The photo above is The Broadway at Huntington Center in 1965, just days before it opened.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Alicia Wentworth

One of H.B.'s great citizens, Alicia Wentworth, died on Friday. She was our City Clerk for 15 years, and official City Historian for 17 more.

Without Alicia's subtle guidance when I was young, my life would be very different today. I first met her in 1989. I was taking photography at Edison High School and thought it might be interesting to photograph old buildings around H.B.

My involvement with local history could have ended with that project. However, someone -- probably Connie Brockway -- suggested I talk to Alicia.

Alicia had collected photos of old H.B. for many years, but had only recently been appointed City Historian. She not only told me where to look for the historically important houses, but shared stories about old H.B., and had me do more photography specifically for the City's collection. I mostly photographed places before they were torn out and replaced with condos and stripmalls. It was my first paying job of any kind -- and in retrospect, I'm pretty sure the money was coming out of her own pocket.

But the money wasn't the point. She got me hooked on local history, and it has remained my avocation for all these years. It was only a few years ago that I was given the opportunity to turn it into an occupation and a career.

I knew Alicia's health must really be bad when she told me she could no longer make it in to City Hall. She could not be slowed down easily. Even after she was home and recovering from multiple-bypass surgery, she was able to help me solve a number of historical mysteries over the phone. Like me, she loved her work.

Thank you, Alicia, for all your help and kindness over the years. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge, and for giving me a crucial nudge or two in the right direction.

Link: Obituary, Register

Monday, September 04, 2006

Historic Orange County place names

Valerie Takahama has a nice little quiz in today's Register, based on Phil Brigandi's new book, Orange County Place Names, A to Z.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Huntington Harbour history

This is a photo of the Lomita Gun Club, which stood on the land (and water) that is now Huntington Harbour (on the western edge of Huntington Beach). It was founded in 1903, although this photo was taken around 1913. Most locals have heard of the Bolsa Chica Gun Club, but did you know there were once at least 13 different hunting clubs located in the Bolsa Chica/Huntington Harbour/Los Patos area at one time?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ride the original Red (Car) Line

Ever wonder what it was like to ride in the "Red Cars" of the Pacific Electric Railway Co.? Then drive up to San Pedro some weekend. They have several refurbished cars up and running near Ports O' Call Village.
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Or, they also have a number of Red Cars operating at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris.
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The photo above shows a special excursion car in Huntington Beach, heading down the coast toward Newport Beach.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saving What’s Left of the Real Huntington Beach

Yes, I was disappointed when the Huntington Beach Planning Commission rejected a proposed overlay zone in the Main and Crest area of Wesley Park. But I’m not sure that was the only solution anyway.

The road to preservation (and the abatement of mini-mansionization) lies down the path of historical districts, education, and a city-wide effort to preserve what remains of our historical and cultural resources.

These efforts should, in most cases, use the carrot rather than the stick. Adoption of the Mills Act would be a big step in the right direction. It offers property taxes breaks for homeowners who restore and preserve historic properties.

Need an example of how these programs can be win-win for everyone? Look at what the City of Anaheim has done with the Mills Act and their two (soon to be three) historic districts. If you haven’t driven around the old Colony area (around Pearson Park) in the past ten years, you owe it to yourself. The restored historic homes are the pride of the city, the neighborhood is vastly improved, and property values have skyrocketed – even by Orange County standards.

The conversion of H.B.'s pleasant and historic downtown into a high-density and mini-mansion-ized mess is nearly complete. If ANY historic structures are to be saved, the time to act is now.

Links:
Mills Act Information (State of California)
PDF with more Mills Act information (State of California)
What is the Mills Act? (Anaheim Colony)
Mills Act article (O.C. Register, 1998)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Huntington Inn

I went to the Postcard & Paper Show in Santa Ana today, and this postcard of the Huntington Inn was the best item I found. The Inn was built on the north corner of Ocean Ave (PCH) and 8th St. in 1903. It got a new lease on life in the 1950s as an Elk's Club, but was demolished in 1969. Today, a motel (also called the Huntington Inn) can be found on this site.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Huntington Beach entry signs

According to The Huntington Beach Wave, the new entry signs for the City of Huntington Beach (now under design review) will be the first in over 100 years.

Nope. Sorry.

Here's a fairly common postcard image, showing an entry sign in the 1940s. There was also variant of this sign that read, "Huntington Beach - California's Finest Bathing Beach" that was standing as recently as 1952.

And can we count the giant neon "Huntington Beach" sign that hung from double arches at Main and Ocean (PCH) in the 1930s? No, it wasn't at the city's border, but you could read the thing from Long Beach on a clear night.

I also remember large horizontal wood signs with the classic Cold War-era "HB" logo on them. I know there was one on PCH on the northwest side of town, and I vaguely remember another one on Brookhurst St., near Garfield Ave.