Friday, September 20, 2013

O.C. agriculture in 40 words

Upon learning that I'm writing a brief sketch of Orange County's agricultural history for a talk on Saturday, historian/archivist Stephanie George tells me, "Oh, that's easy: They grew things, but then there was a blight. So then they grew something else, but that got wiped out by another blight. Then they grew different things, but we bulldozed all that and covered it with houses. The end!"
Do I have great friends, or what?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

More of Alan Hess on Dana Point

If you missed Alan Hess' outstanding lecture about the design of Dana Point Harbor at the Orange County Historical Society's last meeting, you still have a chance! First, check out his excellent article, "The Beauty of Authenticity" either online, or in the pages of Orange Coast Magazine. Then, on Oct. 5th, the new Southern California Chapter of DOCOMOMO will host Alan for a similar lecture (along with some additional speakers), and a self-guided walking tour of Dana Point Harbor. See for information and to get tickets.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Design and Dana Point Harbor

A view of the north turning basin at Dana Point Harbor today.
Architect and historian Alan Hess will discuss Dana Point Harbor's architectural design and development at the Orange County Historical Society's season kick-off meeting, Sept. 12, 2013, at the Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an optional appetizer and dessert potluck, followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. (Everyone participating in the potluck is asked to bring a dessert or appetizer for six people.) The program is free to the public. Additional program details and updates will be posted to

Dana Point Harbor is one of the most successful mid-century master-planned developments on the West Coast. Alan Hess will speak on "why it is such an important example of 1970s architecture, how it captures a unique time in Orange County history, and why its integrity is worth preserving."
Dana Point Harbor on its dedication day, July 31, 1971.
Hess is the architecture critic of the San Jose Mercury News and a contributor to the Architect’s Newspaper. He has written nineteen books on Modern architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, the most recent being, Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture. Hess was a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow at Columbia University and has a M.Arch degree from the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, UCLA.

(On a personal note, let me say that I've never heard Alan give anything less than a fascinating talk. And it's no exaggeration to say that his books about Googie Architecture changed my life in very positive ways.)
Jetty construction, Dana Point Harbor, Jan. 1967.

This program will be followed with a related lectures and a self-guided tour of Dana Point Harbor on Oct. 5th, sponsored by Docomomo SoCal. (See their website for details.) This will be the inaugural event for this new chapter of Docomomo, an international organization dedicated to the "documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the Modern movement."

I hope to see you at BOTH events!
Dana Point Harbor, seen from the Doris Walker Overlook at Heritage Park.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Santa Ana, history classes, and mystery signs

The photo above was taken near the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street in Santa Ana, probably around the late 1910s. Can you tell which direction we're looking or recognize any landmarks that still stand? The photo comes from the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society and is indicative of some of the cool stuff on display in their Howe-Waffle House Museum.

Diane Ryan is again teaching a class on the "History of Orange County." Topics include "early occupants of this territory, Spanish and Mexican influences and the development of some of our cities. ... There will be a field trip to a local historic site." The class will include 8 meetings, on Tuesdays, Sept. 24 to Nov. 12, 2013, 12:30 to 2:30pm, at the Huntington Beach Adult Education District Campus, 17231 Gothard St., Room A103. To sign up, call 714-842-4227 or visit and register for course #088133. ( Early bird $49,  After Sept. 16 $59.)

Diane will also teach a class on "Historic Southern California Landmarks & Early Pioneers" at the OASIS Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave. (Room 2B), Corona del Mar, Thursdays, from Sept. 26 to Oct. 31, 2013, 1:30-3:30pm. Sign up online (click on Recreation Classes) or call 949-644-3244 for course #684042. The Landmarks and Pioneers class will meet six times, and the cost is $55 plus $2 material fee.
Recently, I was walking in a coastal O.C. neighborhood and noticed these signs decorating someone's front yard. I'm curious about where these originated. (Click image to enlarge -- as always.) My first thought was Knott's Berry Farm, but my usual Knott's contacts seem to think otherwise. So I put the ball in your court, dear readers. Any guesses?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Fires in Santa Ana

The fire that wiped out Santa Ana Lanes.
In case you weren't convinced by my last post that the Santa Ana Fire Museum has some cool stuff, here are a few photos from their displays. Consider this the "sampler platter."
A fire near the historic Yost Theatre in E. Main Street, Santa Ana.
I think the photo above was taken from the fire escape of the old First National Bank building at 4th St. and Main.
Parade of emergency vehicles heading down Main Street at Santa Ana Blvd.
Some of these photos are interesting not only for the events they show, but also for what appears in the backgrounds. Note the old hotel in the photo above, for instance, which stood where the Presbyterian Church's parking lot is today.
Bad things happening at the Thrifty Drug shopping center.
If you know more about the stories behind any of these photos, please post in the "Comments" section, below.
S.A.F.D. Training Center & Engine Co No. 4 (Burrows & Allen Architects)
Okay,... That's enough Fire Museum posts for a while.