I've told the tale many times of my first foray into local history, over 20 years ago. I had a project to do for my high school photography class and decided that old buildings in downtown Huntington Beach would be a good subject. Pretty soon, I found people were coming out of the old buildings to ask what I was doing, and then ended up telling me the histories of their homes or businesses. Eventually, somebody directed me to City Historian Alicia Wentworth, who told me all kinds of interesting stories about the town I grew up in. She had amassed a large collection of historic images of the city, and I gave her copies of mine to add to the collection.
That could have been the end of it, if she hadn't said what she said next: "There are lots of historic buildings and sites around town that I'd still love to have photos of before they disappear. But I'm not as spry as I used to be. If I paid you, would you take my list of historic sites and go photograph them?"
Naturally, I said yes. For a few dollars out of her own pocket, Alicia got her photos, I got my first paying job, and I was drawn into local history for good.
I tell this story again because I'm scouting around again for old photos of Huntington Beach. Barbara Haynes of DeGuelle Glass ("The Glassiest Place in Town") gave me a disc chock full of amazing Huntington Beach images -- and guess what I found among them? A few veeery familiar images.
I took all three of the images in today's post back in the late 1980s. The one at the top of today's post is the Charles Warner House (1907) at 403 Tenth St. Charles Warner was on the city's first Board of Trustees (City Council). Warner Avenue was named in his honor. His son, Willis Warner, was raised in this house and grew up to become an important elected official in his own right. Willis also lived in this house while he was serving as one of the most influential Orange County Supervisors ever.
Today, the house is owned by Joe Santiago, who has made the Warner house famous as "the house with another old house hovering over its garage." You see, Joe also purchased the historic but threatened Ed Manning House. But Joe couldn't afford more land to put the Manning House on. So he put it on top of the garage of the Warner House! He is now working to restore both homes. (Manning, by the way, was the first mayor of H.B. and an ancestor of Alicia Wentworth. Small world!)
The second image, immediately above, shows Huntington Auto Service (circa 1918). This building is now demolished. About all that remains of the downtown "Auto Row" anymore is the old Hudson/Rambler/Peugeot dealership building at 410 Main (now "The Electric Chair" punk fashions), and Jax Bicycles at 401 Main, which I believe also served various dealerships and garages over the decades.
I believe I rediscovered this last image once before and posted it to my blog. So this is a re-rediscovery. The Troop 1 Scout Cabin was completed in 1924 thanks to support, work and donations from all parts of the community. Huntington Beach should take a certain amount of pride in this building, which still stands in the middle of Lake Park.
Thanks for bearing with me and my walk down memory lane.