Monday, May 14, 2012

Hewes Park

 There's a lot to be learned from an artifact as simple as a citrus crate label. In this case, I'm posting three labels featuring Hewes Park. David Hewes was most famous as the man who provided the golden spike for 1869 ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah, which completed the building of the transcontinental railroad. He'd become rich as a grading contractor in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, and in the early 1880s he brought himself and his wealth to Orange County.
Hewes purchased a large ranch between Tustin and El Modena and had much of it planted in citrus groves in 1892. According to Phil Brigandi's indispensable, Orange County Place Names, A to Z, "In 1905 [Hewes] began development of Hewes Park on a small hill above the northwest corner of Esplanade Street and La Veta Avenue. It was a private park, built for the public as a gift from Hewes."

The park was designed by Robert G. Fraser, who also designed the original Busch Gardens in Pasadena. Hewes Park was soon an important Orange County landmark and even appeared on many postcards and in promotional brochures for the region. Its beautiful trees, flower gardens, and barbeques were later joined by a miniature golf course, a Japanese tea garden, and other amenities.
Hewes built two citrus packing houses and his fruit bore labels reading, "D. Hewes, El Modena Highlands." After his death, the business was managed by D. E. Huff, who reorganized the operation as the David Hewes Realty Corporation in 1920. The land was subdivided for sale in 1923, but the packing operation continued under the name David Hewes Orange & Lemon Association. The packing houses both burned in 1947.

Hewes Park also met its end in the 1940s when it was purchased and large homes were built on the site. I'm told one of the homes sitting atop the park today is that of Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame.


Anonymous said...

David Hewes also built his home in Tustin (350 S B street). This home was ounce owned by the in-laws.


Anonymous said...

My Fiancee's Grandparents, whom I believe were the second owners of the home, just sold the house which sits on the very top of where the park used to be. It is such a lovely home, sad to see it sold. Parts of the road, steps and the original palm trees from the park still reside on this property.

There were original pictures in the house of the park before it was build on, but I wasn't able to get them out of the frame to take pictures of. I did take some through the glass but they are sort of blurry and have reflection in them.. Hopefully the new owners keep them safe with the house.

Thank you for posting this blog about the history of this property! It means a lot!