Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Santa Ana Edition

The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society (SAHPS) needs volunteers for historical salvage operations. On Sat., March 17th, they'll have a crew of volunteers removing various building materials from older houses slated for demolition by the City. That will be followed by a salvage sale in the next month or two. If you can help for a few hours or the whole day, they could use the help. Contact Nathan or Roberta via email.

The Floral Park Neighborhood’s annual home tour will be held April 28th and 29th. This is one of the best tours of its kind in O.C. (Although you should check out the Anaheim tour in early summer also.) See Santa Ana in a whole new light. Discounted presale tickets are available if you order by April 23. Go to their website for more information.

SAHPS Annual Dinner Update: In addition to the aforementioned presentation on local theatres of the early 1900s, the SAHPS’ annual dinner will include the presentation of several awards. This year’s honorees include architect Don Krotee, “beloved” local historian Jim Sleeper (who finds SAHPS’ choice of adjectives amusing), and City Manager Dave Ream. For event information, click here

The historic Twist-Basler House (1914) in Santa Ana will be moved to Cabrillo Park in late Spring 2007. (It is being moved to make way for the still-tenantless, 37-story, “One Broadway Plaza” project.) Additionally, someone at the City of Santa Ana is trying to research the history of the house for a grant application for its restoration. I’m kind of surprised that they haven’t visited the O.C. Archives, where the actual property records are available. The photo above shows the building when it was the Twist residence. Link: Information on Twist-Basler house (241Kb doc file)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Disneyland, COPH, Hawaiian Punch, and citrus

Ruins of Disneyland's "Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland" (Photo courtesy has added several new entries lately, including an article about the many "hidden" nods to past Disneyland attractions that are currently "hidden" throughout the park.

CSUF’s Center for Oral & Public History (COPH) is working on two photo digitization projects. They hope to have the majority of COPH’s photos (including their Japanese American collection) digitized, cataloged, and posted online by this summer.

Charles Phoneix's "Slide of the Week" relates to the old Hawaiian Punch plant in Fullerton. Wish it was a shot of the plant, rather than just visitors to the plant, but still...

This next item isn't about O.C., but if you're interested in our agricultural roots, you might be interested...

The citrus groves of the Inland Empire are being steadily wiped out by development -- just as ours were decades ago. Inland Orange is dedicated to saving at least a few of those groves as a reminder of Southern California's heritage. They are also involved in a gleaning program to provide otherwise wasted (but good) fruit to the poor and needy. So, if you'd like to try your hand at picking oranges, you might want to get in touch with these folks.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brea, history collections, Huntington Beach, etc.

An oil fire in Brea, 1926
The Olinda Historic Museum and Park has been renamed the Olinda Oil Museum and Trail

Joe Shaw has asked me to be a regular contributor to his "Greetings from Downtown Huntington Beach" blog. I'll start posting things there soon. Another new recruit, author Chris Epting (who penned the H.B. book for Arcadia Publishing) has already started contributing. 

The Orange Public Library’s history archives has started to build a new collection: The Orange Mayors Collection. The scrapbooks of various mayors of Orange will be copied and returned. 

The digitization projects at the Launer Room in the Fullerton Public Library are on indefinite hold. On the plus side, construction of a library expansion (which would double the size of the Launer history room) will begin within a year. 

The O.C. Archives has reclaimed Room 107 of the Old O.C. Courthouse, giving us work space for projects, a sink, and enough additional storage to hold us for at least a little while longer.

This month, KCET (not KOCE as I reported earlier) is running a short Black History Month PSA featuring Barbara Hill, who was the first black teacher in Santa Ana. I, however, know her for her work in researching O.C.'s black history. For someone who didn't start out as a historian, she has an admirable willingness to roll up her sleeves and dig through daunting mountains of documents in search of the facts. 

This last entry is not about O.C., but how can I resist a Googie item?: Friends of Johnie’s is holding a “Ghost Cruise” this Sunday, to focus attention on the recent illegal demolition of Johnie's/Harvey’s Broiler in Downey, and to “bring awareness to other popular car cruise destinations that may be threatened...or already lost.” This will be a self-driving classic car cruise along “the old cruising circuit” with stops at some of the old drive-in restaurant haunts of yesteryear. The cruise will begin at 8am, at Bob's Big Boy, 4211 Riverside Dr, in Burbank. For details, visit the Friends of Johnie’s website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tustin Air Hangar to be demolished

Helicopters at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin (Photo courtesy O.C. Archives)
A sub-head from today's Register says it all: "City Council rejects proposals for using the structure as not profitable enough." Good thing there were no other criteria to cloud the Council's judgement. (e.g. the hangar's architectural or historical significance) Otherwise, they might have milked a few less tax dollars out of this new addition to their city. The horror.

The Civil War Roundtable of O.C. meets Tuesday night. Details on their website.

The Tustin Area Museum is looking for docents. If you're interested in leading tours, on Tusday and Thursday morning, 10am-2pm, or if you'd like to work some 2-hour shifts as a greeter, contact Barbara or Bill at (714) 731-5701.

The Dana Point Historical Society will hold its February meeting next Monday, February 26, 2007 at 7pm. Richard H. Dodd, AIA, will give a presentation on the Architectural History of Orange County. This Program will be held at the Community House, 24642 San Juan Ave. and refreshments will be served. For more information, call 248-8121.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Googie, etc.

The 1906 Western falsefront at 123 Main St, in Huntington Beach was demolished a couple weeks ago. Architecturally, it was always underwhelming,.. but it was one of the few historic structures left on Main. It was originally the Huntington Cafe. Over the past century, it served as many other restaurants including The Fryin' Pan, the Marigols Cafe, Ira's Cafe and the California Cafe. It ended its life as the Sunshine clothing store. (See photo above, which I took in December).

The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society's annual member dinner will be held on Tuesday, March 20. Their speaker will be theatre designer and historian Joseph Musil, who will discuss the grand local theatres of the early 20th century and "what they each did to be better than the next." More event details are posted on the SAHPS website.

The Costa Mesa Historical Society will host a presentation by architect Richard Dodd on "The Evolution of Architecture Styles in Orange County, on Sunday, Feb. 25th. Doors open at 2:00pm. The program begins at 2:30pm and will last roughly an hour. Refreshments will be served. I've seen this program, and it's a interesting and enjoyable introduction to early architectural styles in Southern California.

My fellow Googie/Modern architecture fans will want to check out Tom Lundin's 3D architectural models on his website. Having done a little of this work myself in college, I know just enough to recognize how many hours of effort this represents. And if the preservationists don't keep up the fight, these digital models may soon be all that exists of these Southern California icons. (Once you're on the site, click the link icons to the lower right to see additional buildings.)

And finally, here's an amusing visual warning about believing what you see in "old" photos... especially on the web. (Link)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

San Clemente historical preservation

Mike Cotter, President of the San Clemente Historical Society writes:

"The City of San Clemente will hold a public workshop to discuss the work and potential recommendations of its Landmarks Preservation Task Force on Thursday, February 15th.

"The Task Force was appointed last year by the City to study historical resources in San Clemente, to recommend which of the resources should be considered 'historical landmarks,' and to recommend ways to help better protect the city's rich physical heritage.

"Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this important public workshop:

Thursday evening
February 15, 2007
6:30 p.m.
Community Center auditorium
100 N Calle Seville

"There are some very vocal members of our City who are opposed to the Society's historical preservation efforts, and they will be there in force.

"It is critically important that members of the Historical Society be well represented at this public workshop. Members of the public who wish to speak may be granted up to 3 minutes each at the microphone. We need as many members and friends to show up as possible! Please plan to attend, whether you wish to speak before the Task Force or not."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

O.C. Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum

The new Orange County Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum (at the Fullerton Arboretum), will open its first exhibition, Sowing Dreams, Cultivating Lives: Nikkei Farmers in Pre-World War II Orange County, on Feb. 10th. This exibit will depict the journey of "the early Japanese immigrants to California, and follow their stories as they establish permanent communities in Orange County by marrying, raising families, founding schools and social groups, and above all, cultivating the land."

Good people have been working their butts off in preparation for this museum and this exhibit,... So the least you can do is go, have fun, and learn something.

Link: O.C. Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum
Link: Story about the museum in SqueezeOC

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Black History Month, Fox Fullerton, and more

The Santa Ana Black Historical Society has installed a display for Black History Month on the 3rd floor landing of the Old Orange County Courthouse. (Some of the panels are shown in today's photo.) Rather than focusing on national figures, the display depicts black citizens who have made an impression on the history of Santa Ana and Orange County. The SABHS meets the 3rd Thursday of the month, at 6pm, in the South West Senior Center, 2201 W. McFadden St., Santa Ana. For information, call (714) 505-3408.

Werner at has recently posted new pages for Monsanto's Plastics Home of the Future and the old Conestoga Wagons at Disneyland.

The Fox Fullerton Theatre (1925), at 221 N. Harbor, will show"True Grit”(1969), starring longtime OC resident John Wayne as U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, on Feb. 15th. The good news is, the show is free and also includes a trivia contest, raffle and cartoon. The bad news is the theatre's interior is still under renovation, so the movie will be shown in the parking lot in back. Dress warmly. The fun begins at 7pm.

If you haven't seen it already, Bruce Beal has posted a six-part series, The History of Surfing in Dana Point, on the Dana Point Historical Society's website.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Obituaries, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, etc.

Michael S. Brigandi, long time O.C. resident and the father of County Archivist Phil Brigandi, died Jan. 27, at his home in Corona del Mar. Pretty much everyone involved in O.C. local history knows Phil, so I thought I’d share the sad news here. The obituary is now posted on the Daily Pilot’s website.

Today’s photo was taken on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise in 1959.

Fountain Valley mayor Gus Ayer will help kick off his city’s 50th Anniversary with a free two-mile walk around Mile Square Park on Feb. 10th. He’ll be pointing out “historical landmarks and little-known aspects of the park.” The walk will start around 8:15am near the recreation center on Brookhurst. For more information, call (714) 839-8611.

A display of art depicting the landmarks, people and history of the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base opened Friday night and will run through the weekend. The base entrance is off Lexington Dr and Katella Ave in Los Alamitos. The show will be open from 11am to 4pm, Sat. and Sun. For information, call (714) 795-2126.

Marge Woodard, the first female investigator for the O.C. Sheriff’s Dept, died January 22, at age 89. Read her “Life Story” in the Register.

On Monday, the Santa Ana City Council will consider a proposal for the “West End Lofts” project – which would put a 6-story glass box amid a whole block of historic 2-story storefronts on 4th St. The Council will meet Monday at 6pm, at 22 Civic Center Plaza.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Paper Fair, Costa Mesa, and local events/programs

Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 1948. (Photo courtesy O.C. Archives)
The Vintage Postcard & Paper Fair is returning to Pasadena this weekend. If you have any interest in collecting historic images and ephemera of Southern California, this is the way to do it! This event features dozens of dealers with gajillions of postcards, photos, brochures, and other paper collectibles. I never go to one of these things without running into at least a few local historians I know. The Paper Fair will be held Fri-Sun. See Hal Lutzky's website for details.

The Dana Point Historical Society is talking about putting together small exhibits about the City's history, to be displayed at various points around town. Sounds like a worthwhile effort. 180 years ago today, Jebediah Smith (no relation to Jedediah Springfield) became the first American to reach Mexican California overland.

The O.C. Genealogical Society will offer a variety of "how-to" seminars on Saturday at the Huntington Beach Library. Visit their website for details.

The historic Howe-Waffle House, at Sycamore and Civic Center Drive in Santa Ana will be open for tours on Saturday, Noon to 4pm. The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society is calling this a "Special Holiday Open House," but I'm not sure which holiday. Groundhog Day? Anyway, it's worth a visit.