Friis, James Jessen, of Orange, who was active for many years in Orange County musical and historical organizations, died Monday, July 27, 2009, at the age of 81, from the effects of a stroke.
Friis was born in Santa Ana on March 1, 1928, the son of Leo Jessen Friis and Lena Jane Carlson Friis, who had come to California from Iowa in the 1920s. The family resided in Anaheim.
Musical studies began early in his life, with drums at age 4, later piano, and by the time of his graduation from Anaheim High School in 1946, he also played the organ. He graduated from Pomona College in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in music composition.
Friis also held leadership positions in the Musical Arts Club of Orange County, Santa Ana Community Concerts, and was a past dean of the Orange County Chapter of The American Guild of Organists. He also served as organist (and frequently choirmaster) of several local churches, among them St. Michael's Episcopal church, Anaheim, St. Joseph's Episcopal Church, Buena Park, and the Church of Christ, Scientist, Laguna Hills.
With his father, Friis founded Friis-Pioneer Press in Santa Ana, a firm noted for the publication of books of Orange County history. He served several terms as president of the Orange County Historical Society, as well as the Old Courthouse Museum Society, and was a member of the Anaheim Historical Society, the Orange Community Historical Society, and the Historical Society of Southern California.
The Native Sons of the Golden West, a fraternal organization of those born in California, was a major interest of his life, and he served several terms as President of Santa Ana Parlor #74 and as Grand Organist for the statewide organization. Friis was also a member of Anaheim Masonic Lodge, Long Beach Scottish Rite, and Al Malaikah shrine, Los Angeles.
Friis is survived by his wife, the former Harriet Lampert, who is also an Orange County native.
Funeral Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, July 31, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal Street, Orange. Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 30 at Shannon-Bryan Mortuary, Orange. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, the American Diabetes Association , or the Charitable Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West (mail to Santa Ana Parlor #74, c/o Treasurer, 14932 Gainford Circle, Irvine, CA 92604).
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Marinka Horack wrote: "...The postal staff ...also said that the...building would be sold to the city. The downtown post office is a beautiful historic building and it would be a terrible loss if it were to be torn down... Does the building have historic status protection?..."
Chris Epting wrote: "That's an interesting building--a WPA project that actually has a sister building, exact same design, in Santa Paula, CA. Any official announcement about the closure yet?"
Mary Adams Urashima wrote: "The California 'New Deal' projects marked their 75-year anniversary in 2008, and they are still trying to identify all sites. The only one noted for Huntington Beach so far is the recreation building. Chris, do you know what year the post office was constructed? I believe the federal government must post a public notice for the sale of surplus property, subject to bids. However, there is a clause that allows for negotiated disposal of surplus property to "tax-supported agencies"-which would be the City. See section 203 of the Federal Property & Administrative Services Act (update 2000).
"With the present economic situation and the federal government trying to cut costs, the City might negotiate a great deal on a historic federal property. I would think a WPA building could easily qualify as a historic building, definitely worth preservation through grants or redevelopment funds."
John Earl wrote: "I wonder if there's a way to prevent this. Closing the downtown post office will create a great inconvenience for many who live in the downtown area."
Chris Jepsen wrote: "With a couple exceptions, the City of Huntington Beach has a poor track record with historical preservation. They've made noises in recent years about improving that reputation, but who knows if that will happen. In short, if you want to save the building, start *now*.
"The Post Office was built in 1935. It was designed by Louis A. Simon and built by L.F. Dow of Los Angeles. I believe it was built as a PWA or WPA project. Simon also designed the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Downtown L.A., the Canoga Park Post Office (1938), the Whittier Post Office (1935) and others.
"I'm very sorry to hear it's closing, because -- from a resident's perspective -- it was one of the last functional bits of Downtown."
[Photo of the building's dedication appears below.]
Mary Adams Urashima wrote: "...Louis A. Simon designed many of the depression-era post offices and other public buildings that are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He also designed the Internal Revenue Building in Washington, D.C., but let's not hold that against him. : )
"Here's the info from the Depew, NY, post office historic register nomination document (it's not as old as HB's downtown post office, but is listed):
"Louis A. Simon served as Supervising Architect from 1933 until 1939, but he had
been associated with the office from 1896. Simon was Superintendent of Architects in the office between 1905 and 1933. From 1915 to 1933...Simon was responsible for the direction of much of the design work. Most of Simon's buildings were designed in the Colonial Revival style and, on occasion, in a restrained or more stylized classically derived style. The use of a standard pattern for these buildings reflects the increasing simplicity of design and standardization of form which are characteristic of post offices of this period, the most prolific era of post office construction in the nation's history.
As early as 1930, the federal government had implemented a massive post office construction program to help offset widespread unemployment caused by the Great Depression. By the end of the decade, however, with the onset of World War II, Congress postponed indefinitely the construction of most post offices not yet under contract."
"We did a program on historical preservation for the City at the Art Center early this year. Unfortunately, only a few people saw it because it wasn't promoted. I'd be happy to give that talk again if there's an audience for it. (I'd need a bit of advance notice, since I'd want to involve at least one additional speaker.)
The photo above shows our group near the "trail head." The construction in the background replaces apartments that burned down during the recent fires.
The photo below shows a few trees from the large Valencia orange groves that still occupy some of this area. They've been mostly neglected for years, but there's a plan underway to revive them as organic groves and start selling the fruit again.
My surveyor friends may have to help me out with the photo below. Does anyone know what a metal disk marked "F P No. 1" in an iron pipe means?
Thanks to Susan Faessel for the first three photos in today's post.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
[Update: J.J.'s funeral will be held at 11am, Friday, July 31, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Internment will be at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana at 2:30pm, following the service. Visitation will be available at Shannon Bryan Mortuary on July 30, 3pm-8pm]
The only child of noted Orange County historian and attorney Leo J. Friis (1901-1980), J.J. was born on March 1, 1928. He grew up on Clementine St. in Anaheim, near the city park, and graduated from Anaheim High School, Fullerton College and Pomona College.
On Oct. 6, 1973, he married librarian Harriet Jane Lampert in Orange.
Beginning in the 1960s, J.J. ran Friis-Pioneer Press (originally called Pioneer Press), which his father started in Santa Ana. He was first co-owner and then owner of the press and print shop. Under the Friss-Pioneer Press imprint, J.J. published many classic works of Orange County history. (See list below.) He also published books on other subjects, but I’m not as familiar with those. The print shop closed in the 1990s, but he published a reprint of an earlier title as recently as last year.
J.J. was extremely active in local historical organizations. He was the longtime chairman of the Old Courthouse Museum Society, was involved in the historical societies in Orange and Anaheim, and was still on the board of the Orange County Historical Society (OCHS) at the time of his death.
J.J. had also been active in the Native Sons of the Golden West since the 1950s, and served as their Statewide Organist.
Musical and artistic, he was involved in numerous musical organizations over the years and was dean of the Orange Coast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
In recent years, J.J. had a number of health problems, but he continued to be active in the community. As recently as our last OCHS board meeting, he was contributing thoughtful advice and giving us the benefit of his experience on a variety of issues before the board.
As Anaheim Historical Society president Cynthia Ward writes, J.J “was something of a legend. His ‘larger than life’ persona will be missed by all.”
Below is a list of some of the Orange County historical titles published by Pioneer/Friis-Pioneer Press:
- Dr. Herb: Memoirs of Herbert A. Johnston, M.D., by Margaret Johnston (1961)
- The Village of Garden Grove, 1870-1905, by Leroy Doig (1962)
- George W. Barter: Pioneer Editor, by Leo J. Friis (1962)
- Orange County Through Four Centuries, by Leo J. Friis (1965)
- The Town of Garden Grove, by Leroy L. Doig (1966)
- Tilda from Tustin, by Inez Pierson (1966)
- Rawhide and Orange Blossoms, by the Quill Pen Club (1967)
- The Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum and its Treasures, by Leo J. Friis (1967)
- When Anaheim Was 21, by Leo J. Friis (1968)
- Yorba Linda, Its History, by March Butz (1970)
- Newhope Days; An Adventure in Living, by Leroy L. Doig (1971)
- Newport Bay: A Pioneer History, by Ellen K. Lee (1973)
- David Hewes: More Than the Golden Spike, by Leo Friis (1974)
- Anaheim's Cultural Heritage, by Leo J. Friis (1975)
- Kleinigkeiten, by Leo J. Friis (1975)
- The Olive Mill: Orange County's Pioneer Industry, by Wayne Dell Gibson (1975)
- Villa Park: Then and Now, by Louise Booth (1976)
- Anaheim...And So It Was, by Dixie Edwards (1976)
- John Frohling: Vintner and City Founder, by Leo J. Friis (1976)
- The City of Garden Grove, by Leroy L. Doig (1977)
- Three Arch Bay, An Illustrated History, by Karen Turnbull (1977)
- Historic Buildings of Pioneer Anaheim, by Leo J. Friis (1979)
- At the Bar, by Leo J. Friis (1980)
- Jeems Pipes of Pipesville Visits Santa Ana, by Leo Friis (1980)
- The Ranchos of Don Pacifico Ontiveros, by Virginia L. Carpenter (1982)
- Campo Aleman: The First Ten Years of Anaheim, by Leo J. Friis (1983)
- Westminster Colony California 1869-1879, by Ivana Freeman Bollman (1983)
- A Child's History of Placentia, by Virginia L. Carpenter (1984)
- Centennial Cookbook, by the O.C. Pioneer Council (1988)
- History of the Rosenhamer-Oberberger Family, by Dolores Rosenhamer (1990)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Our group gathered in front of the Susanna Bixby-Bryant Ranch House & Museum (1911), which we used as "base camp." The photo above shows the group at the museum, gathered around Carl Nelson, former Director of Public Works for the County of Orange and member of the History and Heritage Committee of the American Society of Engineers. The expedition included (from left to right) O.C. Historical Commissioner Pamela Harrell, author and Anaheim Planning Commissioner Steve Faessel, Anaheim Heritage Services Manager Jane Newell, the aforementioned Carl Nelson, O.C. Historical Commissioner Don Dobmeier, OC Parks Ranger Ron Nadeau, and "Cemetery Angels" Melanie Goss and Ann Nepsa. Susan Faessel and were both taking photos and missed being in the shot.
I'll probably post more photos and commentary from this field trip sometime in the next few days. (We saw a number of other interesting things as well.) Meanwhile, if you'd like a sneak peak, click on over to the AUWCO set on my Flickr site.
My thanks to everyone involved in this short expedition. It's amazing how many bits of history can still be found in the parts of O.C. that haven't been completely covered with tract housing and strip malls.
Admittedly, that doesn’t have much to do with Orange County history, (the subject of this blog,) unless you count the millions of Chryslers that have driven our roads since the 1920s.
However, it serves as a cautionary tale about short-sighted organizations that try to save money by axing their priceless (yet inexpensive-to-maintain) historical archives. After all, who knows what "penny wise and pound foolish" cuts still await California as our economy circles the drain?
According to Bob Elton at The Truth About Cars, Chrysler's new owner, Cerberus (named for the three-headed dog at the gates of Hades), "eliminated its archivist position. They stopped funding the documents’ maintenance. The company limited access to their archives and then stopped it altogether. Worse was to follow. With little notice and no planning, Cerberus literally abandoned the engineering library at the Chrysler Technical Center. The library was shuttered and the librarian laid off. And then the real crime: all the library’s books and materials were offered to anyone who could carry them away… Within a week, a collection spanning decades was scattered to the winds; the books and other materials will never again be available in any coherent, comprehensive form.”
As one reader responded, “Destroying any archival material for the chump change it would take to preserve it is insanity.”
Another wrote, “Heritage is an asset at which the bean counters have never been able to attach an actual $ sign to, therefore, as far as they are concerned, it’s not [important]... The documentation being sold, trashed, lost, stolen, and given away… borders on illegal. At the minimum, immoral.”
Remain vigilant folks.
(The photo above shows the Chrysler Corp. building at, 1111 N Brookhurst St., in Anaheim, during the 1960s.)
Friday, July 24, 2009
There's an interesting but somewhat esoteric research project going on at the Outside The Berm blog. It seems there's some confusion over the history of the old "Katella Gate" at Disneyland. If you're interested, check out both the first post and the second post (including the comments) on this topic.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
On July 22, 1769, Gaspar de Portola and his expedition camped in the canyon, near what is now the border of Orange and San Diego counties. They found an Indian village there, where Fr. Crespi baptized two gravely ill children -- the first baptisms in California. (Hence, the canyon's name, which means "little Christians.")
The following day, they continued their march northward, and were (by that point) definitively in what is now Orange County.
Both Portola and Crespi kept diaries, and the expedition's engineer, Miguel Constanso, later wrote up the official narrative of the trek. They were the first Europeans in Orange County, and the first to record the experience. And without records you can't have history.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I did my longest speaking engagement (so far) today at CSUF. I spoke for two hours on the history of Orange County, from pre-historic times to the end of WWII. Given more time, I could have brought it up through the current day. It seemed to be well recieved. If you have a historical group that would like to hear part or all of that talk, let me know. I'd hate for all that prep-time to only be good for one program. I also have a popular hour-long talk on Googie architecture, and a half-hour talk about the Orange County Archives. I prefer not to just be free luncheon entertainment for general interest groups, but if you have a group with an interest in local history, let me know.
Ken at Outside The Berm has posted some swell old photos of Balboa's Fun Zone.
While looking for photos of Laguna Beach "greeter" Eiler Larsen, I stumbed across a blog called Dumb Angel, featuring lots of great old images of Laguna Beach, Balboa and the Rendezvous Ballroom. (Semi-NSFW Warning: There is at least one photo of a nude girl among those Laguna photos.)
Monday, July 20, 2009
You may not have realized how many Orange Countians were involved in making that walk (and other trips into space) possible. From the mid-1950s on, O.C. was chock-full of aerospace industry workers. Everyone, from the engineers to the janitors, at each of the umpteen aerospace businesses involved in the space program can be proud of their contributions -- large or small. Yes, it took a smaller number of geniuses to plan Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, etc.,... but it took tens of thousands of Americans working together to make those plans a reality. And a fair percentage of them lived right here, working for organizations like Douglas Aircraft, Rockwell International, Zenith, Ford Aeroneutronics, McDonnell Douglas, the Aerospace Corporation, and the U.S. Air Force.
Today I'm posting a series of 1960s photos of the Seal Beach construction facility for the second stage of the Saturn rockets that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.
These buildings were located off of Seal Beach Blvd. Note the sign, "Saturn S-II Production Facility. Under construction by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, U.S. Navy, for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." The photo above is dated 1965. This particular project was connected to Douglas Aircraft, which opened its Space Systems Center just down the road in Huntington Beach in Nov. 1963.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Linda asked if I thought this would make a good story for one of the local papers. I said I thought it would be a great idea and have held off until posting anything until now. (There's no sense killing the story by scooping the paper.) Ultimately, the result was a front-page article in yesterday's Daily Pilot.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
On a sad note, pioneering architectural photographer Julius Schulman has passed away at the age of 98. He took the once dry-as-toast function of photographing buildings for architects and turned it into an inspiring art form. Personally, I also appreciated his sense of humor.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Thomas was hired as the county's Building Services Director in 1963. He couldn't actually take the job until early 1964, as he was still on active duty as a U.S. Navy captain stationed in San Diego. (I'm told he's a veteran of Pearl Harbor.) Once on the job, he oversaw the development of many major county facilities, including jails and the new Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana.
He must have impressed the Board of Supervisors, because in Fall 1967 they unanimously selected him to be the County's first Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
In that position, he oversaw the growth and development of the county in an era of explosive population and budget growth. In fact, the county budget grew from less than $100 million to more than $1 billion during his years at the helm.
Upon Thomas' retirement, Supervisor Nestande call him "a longtime public servant, who has guided this county through its dramatic, unprecedented years of growth, helping this board cope with increasing needs and responding to the desires of various constituents as well as the mandates from the state and federal governments... Bob Thomas kept us on a realistic fiscal basis; he organized and supervised a responsive, aggressive and imaginative county government structure..."
Monday, July 13, 2009
The Orange Public Library & History Center (OPL) will present two workshops this month that might interest you. To sign up for either of them, call (714) 288-2465. The programs are...
- Researching the History of Your House: A starting point for Orange home owners to learn more about their home. Workshop held in the History Center (2nd floor), OPL, tomorrow, July 14, 6-7pm. (Sorry about the short notice, but I just heard about it today.)
- Preserving Your Photographs: Learn how best to identify, store, and display your photographs to ensure their longevity. Workshop held in the Rotary Room, OPL, July 21, 6-7pm.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The theme for the 1948 fair was youth. There was lots of 4-H activity and involvement by 12 local high schools. Miss Phyllis Applegate of Huntington Beach High School was named queen of the fair and greeted Governor Earl Warren at an official reception.
The 1948 Fair also featured all the usual country fair standbys, like baked goods, garden and agricultural products, and displays from all the local chambers of commerce. In the photo below, Susan Robinson, 14, kneels amid an exhibit of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
At the beginning of the 1948 Orange County Fair, the L.A. Times wrote, "Fair officials... announced that 40 bombs would be set off throughout the county tonight announcing the opening ceremonies." Can you imagine how many people would be thrown in jail for pulling a stunt like that today?!
Friday, July 10, 2009
Note that the flag features a yellow sunburst surrounding the County emblem – an element that is often left out.
The circular emblem at the center of the flag (featuring three oranges, Old Saddleback, and rows of fields) has somewhat mysterious origins. The first usage I’ve heard of was in 1948, but there is no sign that it was ever officially adopted by the County. The official County seal remains a single orange with a stem and three leaves.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
From the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 21, 1896:
D. F. Spangler of [Santa Ana] has invented a wave motor that promises to become a "bonanza" to the inventor. Mr. Spangler is just a hard-working blacksmith, but he has ideas that indeed seem to be a benefit to mankind. The motor has been shown to a representative of The Times. It consists of a long lever with a hollow float, and connected with two gear wheels to a large air pump, or air compressor, and the air piped to a large steam boiler, or any strong tank or reservoir, and used the same as steam. The machine is a novel one, and is attracting a great deal of attention now by those who have heard of the use to which it may be put. The machine may now be seen here in Santa Ana at the shop of its inventor."
That shop is seen below, at 3rd St. and Sycamore.
Soon the motor was ready to be tested at the end of the wharf in Newport Beach. On May 1st, the Times reported,
"Messrs. W.S. Bartlett, Benton and Lafayette Flood of Santa Ana and Miss Ross of Fairview will stand by the inventor in the experiment, and if it proves a success the motors will them be manufactured on a larger scale. It will cost perhaps $1000, or slightly more, to put in the machinery for this first trial, but if the test is successful an arrangement will not doubt be made so that the power of the motor will be used by the Newport Wharf and Lumber Company and the Santa Ana and Newport Railroad Company in the handling of large quantities of freight..."The motor was started in mid-May, and ran well for several days before an "unusually low tide" broke part of the mechanism, requiring lengthy repairs. After that, little was heard about the motor.
For the record, Spangler also had another notable invention. In 1894 he built a boat that was propelled much like a bicycle. It was similar, in fact, to the garishly colored boats that now tool around the lake at Irvine Park. Rather than the sheer joy of paddling about, however, Spangler saw the boat as a way for hunters to approach their game on Newport Bay almost silently.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Vischer is known for the sketches he made of California in the 1860s and '70s. His most common subjects were the missions and scenes of nature. His early attempts to reproduce his drawings by lithography proved disappointing, which led to his becoming a pioneer in the area of photographically reproduced artwork. He published a number of well-known portfolios, including Pictorial of California Landscape (1870), and Missions of Upper California (1872).
According to Palmquist and Kailbourn in Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, "In September 1842, Vischer sailed from Acapulco on the schooner California on a combination business and pleasure trip to Alta California, where he made a tour of Sausalito, Sonoma, San Rafael, and Monterey... Vischer concluded his circuit of California with visits to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Although he apparently did not sketch the missions and pueblos he visited in 1842, in later years he drew many of these scenes from memory."