Friday, January 11, 2008

Orange, "Then & Now", Steve Martin & Carl Karcher

Today's photo shows the First National Bank of Orange at Chapman Ave and Glassell in Downtown Orange in the 1940s. Thankfully, it's still standing today -- But would you believe there's now a Starbucks inside?
Yes, I will be posting more before and after photos in the near future, but obviously not today. In the meantime, get your "then and now" photo fix at reader walterworld's blog. He specializes in pictures of California roadside architecture, including quite a few vintage Orange County motels.
Dave at Daveland has posted some amazing color shots of a young Steve Martin performing in "Our American Cousin" at the Bird Cage Theatre (at Knott's Berry Farm) in 1965. I like that in one photo Martin has clearly missed a barrage of arrows, but *does* have a hatchet stuck in his head.
The Register is reporting that Carl Karcher - one of the great businessmen of O.C. history - is in critical condition with pneumonia. Say a little prayer for him before you tuck into your Famous Star burger today at lunch.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the OCHS meeting for Phil's presentation last night. I love being able to look around a whole room full of people like that I realize that most everyone is a friend of mine. There is definitely and literally a historical community here in Orange County.


trinkster said...

My grandfather, Carl E. Schroeder, began working for First National Bank in 1946 and in the mid 1960's until the mid 70's served as President.

I don't know how many of you remember how this bank looked on the inside, but it was one of the most beautiful banks in of Orange County. When you walked inside you saw the giant bank vault at the back of the bank. The floor and counters were all marble and each teller had gold rod iron gates.

Then Wells Fargo bought First National Bank. In 1998 they ruined the interior of a beautiful historic bank by removing all the marble countertops and marble floors to accommodate Starbucks and a fireplace. For a short time they also had a sandwich shop and a drycleaner inside. Wells Fargo told their long-time employees to either go along or leave. Today, we have two Starbuck Coffee shops diagonally across the Plaza since this ubiquitous chain acquired Dietrichs.

itsnotaplace said...

Unfortunately, I don't think I was ever in the bank before Wells Fargo and Starbucks took it over. I think I was in there only once. It would be neat to see photos of the interior of the bank before the changes if anyone has them, but I suspect that taking photos inside a bank would have been kinda suspicious. I would doubt anyone has such a photo.

walterworld said...

Well, I've made it through November 2006 in your blog archives...Really enjoying all of the posts.

I wish I lived in Orange County so I could join the historical society. Sounds like a great (and fun) organization.

And thanks for the mention regarding WalterWorld---!

Chris Jepsen said...

trinkster: Thanks for all the information about the bank! Great stuff! What a shame that later tennants rode rough-shod over the interior. Unfortunately, many preservation ordinances (and even the Mills Act) don't encourage the preservation of building interiors -- just the exteriors. I can understand some of the reasons for that, but it still conjures up some disturbing scenarios. (Can you imagine ripping out the insides of the Bradbury Building in L.A. while leaving the relatively unexciting exterior?)

itsnotaplace: Luckily, banks weren't always so nervous. In fact, it was once common to print up postcards and other promotional materials showing the attractive interiors of local banks. Here's a link to one such photo of the First National Bank of Orange, taken in 1920:

walterworld: Well, if you're ever in the area when OCHS is having a meeting, I'm sure you'd be welcome.

Chris Jepsen said...

Oops,... The url for that photo didn't show up well on my last comment there. I'll repost it here with a line break, so it all fits:

ockid said...

That photo is of the former First National location across the street at 101 E. Chapman.

I interviewed Carl Schroeder about 10 years ago and he said they knew First National was eventually going to be bought out, and had hoped Wells Fargo would be a good fit. It was clear he was less than pleased with the results.

The loss of local banks -- like the loss of local newspapers -- has really hurt our communities here in Southern California.

Anonymous said...

I banked at 1st National back in the mid 70's and am sorry to hear how it has been ruined. My first apartment was around the corner at 121 1/2 Glassell, just above the old Youngster Shoppe (there are locked entry doors there now, but when I lived there it was an open staircase that became a popular men's room during the Street Fair!) I loved living on the Plaza and shopped at the old Satellite Market, and even worked for about a year at the blueprint company Universal Reproductions, which was downstairs from me and a few doors south. I knew many people on the Plaza and always felt like I was part of a small town community. Thanks for your blog!

Anonymous said...

trinkster and ockid: I want to know more about Cart E. Schroeder. Please email me at if you see this message. Thanks!