Friday, January 18, 2008

W. O. Hart Park, Orange

Today's image is a postcard depicting W.O. Hart Park around 1950. If you don't count the Plaza, Hart Park was the City of Orange's first park. Originally called Orange City Park, it was created in the 1930s by the City, working in conjunction with the State Emergency Relief Agency (SERA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was renamed in 1964 for longtime Orange Daily News editor William O. Hart.
In his book Orange: The City 'Round the Plaza, Phil Brigandi writes, "In 1927 the Chamber of Commerce led a major push to build a city park in Orange, but the proposed bond issue was defeated by local voters. In 1933, the city took up the challenge, acquiring 17 acres along the Santiago Creek east of Glassell Street."
After some serious cleanup of the area, construction began in 1935. Phil continues, "The biggest project was channeling the Santiago Creek. Arroyo stone retaining walls were built by hand on both sides of the creek . The Orange Plunge was built jointly by the city and the WPA in 1935-1936 and was officially dedicated along with the rest of the park on May 1, 1937. A year later, the bandshell was added west of the Plunge and in 1949 the National Guard Armory was built at the East end of the park."
Even before the park was completed, it became the home of the Orange Lionettes, a celebrated women's softball team organized in 1936 by the Orange Lions Club. Phil quotes the team's first manager and coach, Carl Schroeder: "I put the team together,... by going out and calling on young girls. My wife didn't much care for that."
The world has an odd way of bringing threads together. Case in point: When screaming kids drove Phil Brigandi and I out of Del Taco at lunch on Wednesday, we went up the street and ate our tacos at Hart Park. Then today, out of the blue, Cynthia Ward asked if I'd post some historical info on Hart Park. And as for Carl Schroeder's somewhat skeptical wife,... I'm planning to have lunch with her (although not at Hart Park) in a week or two.


itsnotaplace said...

Great post... bummer though that all the photos you linked to on do not load for me.

Chris Merritt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Merritt said...

And this in turn relates to the Del Taco postcard you featured last week...

"The circle of liiiiiife....."

Chris Merritt said...

And why can I delete a post - but not edit it?

Damn you Blogger!

Chris Jepsen said...

I agree, Chris. Also, why does Blogger screw up long URLs posted in the comments? And why does it have trouble recognizing paragraph breaks? I have to put periods between paragraphs, and then turn them white so they can't be seen.

Anonymous said...

I have a memory of a park where I went as a child in the 1950s or 1960s. I lived in Santa Ana. A friend of mine suggested it might be Hart Park in Orange. I remember a pond, willow trees and ducks. Could Hart Park be the one I've been looking for? Sharon

Anonymous said...

I remember Hart park from the
1960's. I have many fond memories of having picnics at Hart Park and playing with siblings and friends there often. What wonderful memories of a beautiful place!

Wayne Dale said...

In the late 50's thru the mid 60's my parents took me to the park. At the Plunge, you got a towel & locker for 25 cents. The lifeguards were coaches from the local schools. There were concerts in the bandshell. The park was beautifully landscaped and well tended.