Thursday, September 27, 2007

Googie, Bob's, Aliso Viejo, El Toro & preservation

I'll be giving another talk about Googie architecture at the Oct. 17th meeting of the Old Courthouse Museum Society. The meeting will be held on the third floor of the Old O.C. Courthouse in Downtown Santa Ana at lunchtime. I'll probably post something more about this later.

The photo above shows one of my favorite Googie buildings in O.C.: The old Bob's Big Boy at Harbor and Chapman in Garden Grove. Designed by Armet & Davis, the exterior is still largely entact -- Including that wonderful integrated sign!

Aliso Viejo will hold their second annual Founder's Day Fair on Saturday.

The Saddleback Area Historical Society will hold its Autumn Harvest Festival on Oct. 20, 4-9pm, at Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro.

My latest rant about preservation and planning is posted in the form of a response to Joe Shaw's latest blog entry.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

O.C. architecture's greatest hits

The October issue of Westways magazine features an article about Southern California’s “most significant structures,” based on a recent list from the American Institute of Architects. Of these, only one building was in Orange County: Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral (1980) in Garden Grove. Additionally, Westways' own hand-picked panel of experts decided that Mission San Juan Capistrano should also have appeared on the list, which is true.

But I would like to add at least three more nationally-important O.C. buildings to the list: The Lovell Beach House on the Balboa Penninsula, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland, and the blimp hangars at the former Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin.

The Lovell Beach House (1926) [seen above], was where architect Rudolph M. Schindler introduced European Modernism to America. It was the first stateside example of a style that would spread across the entire nation, gradually adapting to its environment and changing form as it went. The historical and architectural significance of this house is sometimes overlooked, but can not be overstated.

Look at your bank, your city hall, your school, or your favorite donut shop. Chances are, they’re the bastard great-great-grandchildren of this building. Amid the innumerable Modern structures that now grace O.C., this home now barely stands out to casual passers-by – But it must have been quite a shock to people strolling along the beach in the 1920s.

Julius Schulman, who originally photographed this building for Schindler, was on Westways’ expert panel, so I don’t know how they missed it.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (1955), at Disneyland, is probably the ultimate example of programmatic architecture. Its ancestors are roadside hot dog stands that looked like giant hot dogs, motels that looked like wigwams, and ice cream shops that looked like igloos. Disney just took the idea to a whole new level when they built a 77-foot idealized version of Germany's Castle Neuschwanstein.

Even before Disneyland opened, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle had become an instantly-recognizable symbol of the Walt Disney Company, of California tourism, and of childhood fantasy itself. The design was elaborated on in four other Disney theme parks, and mimicked by countless smaller operations. Other than a few historic structures on the East Coast (e.g. The White House), it’s hard to think of another American building that is so recognizable or which inspires such an instant emotional reaction from so many people.
The Blimp Hangars (1942) at MCAS Tustin were constructed in only six months as part of the effort to protect our coastline from enemy attack during WWII. Six inflated blimps could fit in each hangar. The USMC later used the base for helicopters. Although there are still a few identical structures left around the country, there are no larger free-standing wood structures in the world. Despite claims by those who want the hangars demolished for new development, these two enormous structures are well-built and still require very little maintenance. They serve as both an important reminder of our military history and as a testament to American architectural ingenuity.

The AIA list's inclusion of the Crystal Cathedral brings up another point: Why not include the entire Garden Grove Community Church compound? It is a veritable petting zoo of amazing Modern architecture by Richard Meier, Philip Johnson and both Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra.

These are just the examples that come to mind at the moment. I'm sure I'm missing something important, and hopefully you'll write some "reply" posts telling me what I forgot.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tallmantz Aviation, Book Baron & Milford Zornes

Aero Vintage Books has posted some information about Tallmantz Aviation and the Orange County Airport on their website. Today's photo shows the old Orange County Airport terminal (distant left) and the hangar for the Martin School of Aviation (near right), probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
Much to my chagrin, I forgot about the postcard show in Glendale this weekend. (Doh!) It's such a great way to collect old images of local sites. At least Phil brought me back a 1973 Huntington Beach 4th of July Parade program. (Thanks!)
Doris Walker will discuss and sign her new book, Images of America: Dana Point, at the next Dana Point Historical Society meeting, this Wednesday, 7pm, at the South Shores Church Community Room, 32712 Crown Valley Pkwy.
Book Baron in Anaheim is still clearing out their inventory and are down to 60% off everything in the store. It's so sad to see this great O.C. institution closing its doors.
I was cheered up slightly by the fact that I left the store yesterday with a stack of books I might not otherwise have afforded, including Marion Speer's Western Trails (1932), which is the only imprint by the Huntington Beach News that I'm aware of. [Speer was also the founder of the Western Trails Museum, which began in Liberty Park (now part of Huntington Beach) and which now resides in Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm.]
19th St. West Gallery in Costa Mesa will hold a closing reception for their current show of paintings by Milford Zornes on Oct. 20, 6pm-9pm. Hopefully, Zornes will make an appearance. He is now 99 and probably the last of the original wave of influential California Watercolor artists. If you're interested in art or local art history, you should try to attend.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Red Menace, Old Town Orange and CSUF

Here's a little slice of local Cold War history. The photo above shows the Nike missile installation on Knott Ave in Stanton around 1960. No, you can't see the missiles, but the radar tower is certainly impressive. I'm not sure if the Nikes here were the nuclear type, or the conventional ones designed to knock incoming ICBMs out of the sky. I would guess the latter.
Between sites like this, the bases at Tustin and El Toro, and landing strips like Mile Square and Horse Farm, it's amazing how much O.C. land was controlled by the military during the Cold War. Today, most of that land is being turned into condos, "big box" shopping centers, and the so-called "Great Park." Just one more reason to miss having the military as our neighbors.
The Old Towne Preservation Association (OTPA) in Orange will hold their historic home tour Oct. 27 & 28. They need docents. If you would like to volunteer, contact Kathleen.
The Fall newsletter for CSUF's Center for Oral & Public History (COPH) is now online. Highlights include Sharon Owen Pellegrino's advice on purchasing recording equipment, and Art Hansen's introduction of new History Dept faculty members Dr. Raymond Rast and Dr. Benjamin Cawthra. I imagine we'll hear more from these promising newcomers in the coming months.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

South Coast Plaza, Dana Point, robot elephants, etc

South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Carousel Court is part of the original 1967 portion of the mall and was their main marketing theme for many years. The photo at right shows me there in March 1974, taking my first my first carousel ride. Clearly, I was still pretty unsure about the whole thing, even with Mom standing nearby.
The new Dana Point Historical Society newsletter, (The News Drogher) is out, with articles about early developer Ralph W. Quackenbush, the Society's upcoming home tour, and a November trip to the Doheny homes in Los Angeles. It sounds like Buck Henderson was in charge of their last BBQ, which is always a good thing.

I think we were all disappointed last week when the the pachyderms at CSUF's 50th anniversary Robot Elephant Race turned out to only be about a foot tall. I had visions of lifesized, realistic, bionic elephants charging around the campus at high speed. Now THAT would have been cool. Oh, well. Maybe for the 100th Anniversary.
Light Impressions Inc. will offer one of their "Archival Workshops" at the Old O.C. Courthouse on Oct. 6th. These workshops are the equivalent of Tupperware parties for folks who want to preserve their family photos and artifacts.

Dave DeCaro at Daveland has been doing a multi-post photo tour of Disneyland's "Tencennial" in 1965. For those who care about such things, there was also a great TV show broadcast for the park's 10th anniversary, which is available on a couple different DVD sets. In the show, Walt shows introduces us to some of the top Imagineers and shows off his plans for Pirates of the Carribean, the Haunted Mansion, and other new attractions. Here are a few clips:

Friday, September 21, 2007

A dark and stormy night...

The rain is now pounding down outside my window. Lord knows we need it, but it breaks my heart to think what's happening to the Twist-Basler House right now. Thanks to the City of Santa Ana and the developer, it remains chopped into pieces and exposed to the elements. Rain does very bad things to historic interiors. I won't be surprised to see lawsuits filed shortly. The Register covered this story in some depth today.
To keep up on the latest news about the Twist-Basler House, bookmark the Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society's (SAHPS) website.
Speaking of the SAHPS, they will be holding their historical salvage sale tomorrow (Saturday), rain or shine. There should be a bunch of good stuff there for you restoration/preservation folks, and the money goes to a worthy organization (SAHPS) which just won the 2007 California Governor's Award from the State Office of Historic Preservation.

A year after the fact, Newport Beach has decided to celebrate their city's centennial by putting a huge bronze orb at the base of the Newport Pier. The sphere will be surrounded by a dark circular pattern set into the plaza. In other words, it will look just like the Cosmic Waves fountain in Tomorrowland -- except that it won't spray your children with polluted water, which you have to admit is a big plus. Newport claims the project will cost half a million dollars. You know, they could have used that money to help retrofit and restore Newport Harbor High School. Or they could have used it to help preserve the Fun Zone. But since all of that is gone now, let's just hope this orb lasts longer than the Reuben E. Lee did.

It's hard for me to fathom the folks in City governments (and every city has them) who don't "get" the importance of a community's landmarks and historic sites. But the other day, I figured out the perfect way to understand these people...
They're Vogons.
For those of you unfamiliar with Douglas Adams' Hitchihiker's Guide to the Galaxy, perhaps the following excerpt will explain:
"[Vogons] are one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters."
Giving mankind about 10 seconds notice before demolishing Earth, a Vogon from the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council broadcasts the following:
“People of Earth, your attention please. …The plans for the development of the outlying areas of the Galaxy involve the building of a hyperspace bypass through your star system. And regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition…. The plans have been on display at your local planning office in Alpha Centauri for the past fifty of your Earth years… [That’s] only four light years away, you know. I'm sorry, but if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that's your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams!"


It's the perfect analogy, and I will be using it (although perhaps not out loud) any time I run into uncaring government bureaucrats who would as soon tear down a California Mission as look at it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dana Point, Fountain Valley, and Zlacket's Market

Today's photo of Dana Point, circa 1960, comes from the Orange County Archives. This shot is taken from the headlands, looking down toward "Baby Beach." In modern terms, the Pilgrim would be moored in the lower right corner of the photo. Notice that the old pier is still in place and that heavy equipment is just beginning the work of turning a cove into a proper harbor. At the base of the bluffs, you can also see the red-roofed (ca 1928) picnic structure -- part of which still stands today.
If you'd like to know more about Dana Point, look for Doris Walker's latest book, Images of America: Dana Point, which just came out in the past week or so. To learn more about the book and Doris, see the latest update on the Dana Point Historical Society's website.
The Fountain Valley Historical Society will host a Western Cookout lunch and meeting on Sept 23 at Heritage Park, 17641 Los Alamos St., in Fountain Valley. For more information and reservations, call Maureen at (714) 914-1247.
There's a nice article in today's Register about the 80th anniversary of Zlacket's Market in Downtown Garden Grove. I know folks who swear by their prime rib and other meats. Although it's definitely out of my way, I stop in a couple times a year to stock up on anachronistic soft drinks, Danish preserves, and Reed's root beer candy. You know,... Health food!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tourist Trifecta: Knott's, Disneyland, & Capistrano

Recently, I've been scanning a bunch of old family photos. Occasionally I run across a cool old image of O.C. that might be worth sharing here. This photo of the "Happy Sombreros" (a.k.a. "Mexican Hat Dance") at Knott's Berry Farm is the first of those. I figure this was taken about 1983 or 1984. Dad's on the right, and I'm on the left, wearing a painfully 1980s Miami-Vice-colored Izod shirt. The other folks are a family my parents knew from their Air Force days.

Seconds after this photo was taken, the two dads were spinning the center wheel of the "chili bowl" so fast that I thought my head would fly off from the centrifugal force. Lucky there was a headrest behind me. Who knew the Mexican version of Disney's teacups could be turned into an E-ticket?

Speaking of Disney attractions, the mind that brought you the ever-edifying Daveland has now launched another blog, dedicated entirely to Disneyland's Jungle Cruise. Various former J.C. skippers are contributing as well. Looks like fun.

The Register recently ran an article about the living history program at Mission San Juan Capistrano, and longtime docent Marcy Barr.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Citrus labels, old newspapers, lifeguards and a goof

Like some other fruit crate labels I've posted here, this is one I like but don't personally own. Santa-Ana Tustin Mutual had some beautiful designs. I decided to make this today's image because I just learned that Alison Young of the Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society is working on a book about O.C. citrus labels. If you have some you'd be willing to let her scan, drop me an email, and I'll pass the message along.
The California Newspaper Project has posted a Beta test version of the online newspaper archive they're building. It's not completely functional yet, and it only seems to search the 1900 issues of the San Francisco Call, but it's an exciting glimpse of things to come.
Kai Weisser, who I mentioned in yesterday's post, is still looking for old photos relating to Huntington Beach lifeguards. He would especially like to find images of early lifeguards Henry M. Brooks and George A. Reynolds. If you have any photos like these, please drop Kai a line. He would also like help identifying some of the lifeguards in a 1929 group photo.
For you custom hot-rod fans, there's more information about the recent discovery of Ed Roth's Orbitron posted on
Correction: In Saturday's post about Disney's California Adventure, I cited a display panel about Hass avacados as an example of Disney getting California history right. The story of Rudolph Hass planting the "mother tree" in La Habra sounded right. But, as it turns out, he actually planted it in La Habra Heights, in Los Angeles County. My one "positive" example was actually wrong too, and I didn't catch it. (At least I corrected my goof within two days, rather than leaving it posted for over six years.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Irvine Park, Reuben E. Lee, H.B. lifeguards, etc.

Today's photo shows the lake and boathouse at Orange County Park (now called Irvine Park), in the mid-to-late teens. The lake was created from swampy land in 1913, and the boathouse was added the following year.

All that remains of the Reuben E. Lee now is the barge she rested on. That barge will be dragged out to sea next Tuesday and scuttled in 2,400 feet of water. Salvaged bits of the old paddle-wheel-shaped restaurant will be auctioned off online starting Monday (tomorrow).

Kai Weisser, (who's writing a book about the history of the Huntington Beach lifeguards), brought my attention to the re-enactment of a 1934 stunt involving a rowboat trip from San Diego to Huntington Beach to Catalina. Kai's follow-up story is posted at Greetings From Huntington Beach.

The mayor of Fountain Valley will hold a Gala at the Mile Square Golf Club, 10401 Warner Ave, to celebrate the City’s 50th anniversary. The event will take place Nov. 3, beginning with cocktail hour at 6pm, followed by dinner at 7pm. There will be dancing and a live band playing music of the 1950s.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The land of fruits and nuts

If you’re going to teach people about history, it’s best to get your facts straight first. Case in point: Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) features an area called “Bountiful Valley Farm,” which Disney’s website bills as “edu-licious.” Various educational displays and farm equipment are scattered around the area, providing a look at California agriculture, past and present. It’s a nice idea, but some of the exhibits leave something to be desired. An especially bad example – in the form of the produce truck above – caught my attention last week. The bed of the truck is filled with various crates filled with California fruit and labeled with old-style (but recently designed) fake fruit labels. The more I looked, the more wincing I did. Let’s take a look, shall we?A cherry crate label from Orange County? Cherries were never grown or packed here commercially. There are also some “Orange County” blueberries in the display, which is hardly representative of local agriculture.
But wait, it gets better! "California" bananas! I hear there’s one small area of a costal valley near Ventura where the unique micro-climate allows bananas to grow reliably. And I'm not sure that's even a commercial venture. Basically, bananas are NOT a California crop. Strike two!

Although boysenberries would have been a better match for Orange County, at least SOME forms of raspberries were grown here once. However, you certainly don’t pack them this way. If you do, the bottom half of the crate becomes mush. These are orange crates, not berry flats. (The strawberry boxes in this display have the same problem.) Actually, the fake berries in this box are closer to the color of boysenberries than of raspberries. I wonder if they did a last-minute label change after Disney suits said, “Ix-nay on the Otts-Knay.”

Here’s another example in a display near DCA’s “Farmer’s Market” dining area. Initially, I thought this was right. Certainly, I remembered the name Rudolph Hass, and La Habra rang a bell. I wanted this to be my example of Disney doing this correctly. But it turns out Mr. Hass actually grew his "mother tree" in La Habra Heights, which is in Los Angeles County. And not to nitpick, but some accounts say it actually grew in his front yard. (Although I can't confirm the latter.)
Also on display near the "Farmer's Market", are a series of profiles of various successful modern farmers throughout California. Interestingly, one of the O.C. farm families profiled is the Fujishige family, on whose land Disney plans to build their next Anaheim theme park.

Addendum (2/21/2021): Thanks to James Miller, who points out the tiny word "Cereal" underneath the words "Fruit Harvest" on these labels. It seems Fruit Harvest was a brand of cereal from Kellogg's. I was aware the scene was a product placement (which itself is a longstanding tradition at Disneyland) because of the Tony the Tiger reference on the box of bananas and the Kellogg's logo on the door of the truck. But I didn't appreciate the "Fruit Harvest" connection. Kellogg's milked this for everything it was worth! Anyway, my original point was simply to use this display as a way to talk about local agriculture and to bust a few misconceptions.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Airport, Wintersburg, Rosemarie Williams, colonias

I miss the old Orange County Airport terminal. Opened in 1967 and torn down in the 1990s, it gave travelers and visitors an immersive experience. Standing on the observation deck, you could hear the jet engines roar, feel the hot wind from the turbines, and smell the jet fuel. Travelers walking to and from their planes across the tarmac had a similar experience. It was great! By contrast, today's terminal is an isolation chamber, sanitized for your protection. Today's photo shows a school fieldtrip group at airport around 1973.
Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church update: Ricky Ramos from Huntington Beach City Planning writes, "The EIR and associated entitlements are currently in process. The EIR consultant estimates that the FEIR can be certified in about eight months. However, ...things are going much slower than anticipated..."
So it looks like there may still be time for preservationists to do something productive. Rafu Shimpo, Southern California's oldest Japanese-American newspaper, will run a story on this situation in the next few days. I also finally found the Register article about this which was published last month.
Rosemarie Williams of the Orange Public Library's History Room has announced that she'll be retiring at the end of the year. After all the work she put in on the snazzy new Library and History Center, it seems a shame that she won't be sticking around longer to enjoy it.
Many people don't know about Orange County's colonias -- communities created specifically for the Mexican-American agricultural workers and their families in the 1920s. When you know where to look, it's easy to spot these small neighborhoods of modest older homes, now surrounded by newer development rather than fields and orange groves. Colonia Independencia will hold their second annual reunion on Sept. 22, 11am-5pm, at the Colonia Independencia Community Center, at 10871 Garza St., in Anaheim.
There's also a story in today's Register about one man who will be attending that reunion: Mr. Jess Saenz. The article focuses on his experiences in the infantry in WWII.
The USPS unveiled a new stamp today at a ceremony in Santa Ana, commemorating Orange County's landmark Mendez v. Westminster case. This 1947 legal decision desegregated California schools in 1947 -- seven years before Brown v Board of Education.
Yes, there's yet another article about CSUF's 50th anniversary -- This time it's in the O.C. Business Journal. This is what happens when half the residents of O.C. have communications/journalism degrees from Fullerton (myself included).
Over at Yesterland, Werner Weiss has posted a short, illustrated article about the way people dressed to go to Disneyland in the 1950s. He contrasts it with today's flip-flop and tank-top clad tourists. I'll be the first to admit that I wear sneakers and shorts to theme parks, but even by my relaxed standards, the masses have really let themselves go.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alice Sinclair, Cypress College, Irvine Museum, etc.

Today's photo is a 1960 postcard image of Fashion Square in Santa Ana. This is now the site of MainPlace Mall. I wish I'd seen this place in person before everything was "updated."
A sad note for our O.C. historical community: Alice Sinclair, wife of Bruce, passed away on Sept. 6th. Click through to the obituary in the Register. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, 1pm, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Orange.
The Irvine Museum has announced a new show, running from Oct. 23 to March 15, entitled, "Romance of the Bells: The California Missions in Art." The promotional materials show an impressionist painting of Mission San Juan Capistrano as an example of what to expect. The Irvine Museum is one of the best hidden gems in Orange County, and this sounds like a particularly interesting show.
In an article about Cypress College, the Register revealed that the entire campus (laid out during the height of the Vietname protests) was designed to keep students from congregating in any one place. However it may have been arranged, I always liked the look of the old campus, which was a living textbook of the many forms of 1960s Modern architecture. I'm sad to see it disappearing.
The Register also ran another article about CSUF's 50th Anniversary.
Loma Vista Elementary School in Tustin will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an event on Friday. For information, call (714) 730-7528.

Historical parks, Davy Crockett, & Kwikset Locks

Disneyland’s Fort Wilderness was recently torn down and is now being (sort of) rebuilt. I understand that the new fort isn’t very interesting and will mainly be a way to camouflage a couple bathrooms. Today’s image shows Fort Wilderness in happier times, with lifesized figures of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett and (Orange County resident) Buddy Ebsen as George Russel, reporting to Colonel Andrew Jackson.

This month's talk at the Saddleback Area Historical Society will be given by Joanette Willert, the Ranger in charge at Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro. (Whaddaya mean, "Lake Forest?" That's in Illinois!) She'll provide an update on both the Heritage Hill park and recent progress on the creation of the new historical park at the old Irvine Ranch Headquarters. The meeting will be held Sun., Sept 23, 2pm at Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Rd., El Toro.

And speaking of El Toro, the Pioneer Roundup at Heritage Hill will be held Oct. 28, 2pm. This year's focus will be on "lady pioneers."

Former employees of Kwikset Lock Co. will hold a reunion at Pearson Park, 400 N. Lemon St, Anaheim this Saturday, from noon to 5pm. Kwikset was founded in 1946 by Orange County’s first modern industrialist, Adolf Schoepe (1904-2001), who also founded Fluidmaster, Inc. For more information about the reunion, call Linda at (714) 521-9920.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church update

The fate of the historic Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church continues to be a hot topic. Donna Graves, Director of Preserving California's Japantowns, sent an email to Herb Fauland, Principal Planner for the City of Huntington Beach. Excerpts follow:

“I am writing to express concern over the reported threat to a complex of significant historic resources in Huntington Beach. I've been notified that the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church and the Furuta House (7622 and 7642 Warner Avenue) are to be demolished to create space for the operations of Rainbow Disposal.

“As the director of… the first statewide survey of pre-WWII Japanese American historic resources, I am alarmed by this news. The Church complex was among a very small number of Orange County historic structures identified by our survey earlier this year. Not only does the site has immense local significance, it is a rare example of an intact complex of buildings that reflect a thriving immigrant population.

“These structures were identified by a 1985-86 Historic Building Survey conducted for the Orange County Japanese American Council, and are included in a list of historic sites in the Historical and Cultural Element of Huntington Beach's General Plan. …CSU Fullerton Professor Arthur Hansen recently described the Church complex as ‘a priceless part of the Japanese American heritage in Orange County....
arguably the most important structures representative of the Nikkei legacy in our county.’

“…Can you please notify us of the status of this site and what steps were taken under CEQA to assess impacts of demolition and development?”

Excerpts of Herb Fauland’s reply follow:

“The City of Huntington Beach is fully aware of the historical significance of the church and house... The City has received an application for a general plan amendment, zoning map amendment, and environmental assessment by Rainbow Disposal Co. to change the land use and zoning designations from residential to industrial. Due to the historical significance and in accordance with CEQA, the City is processing a focused environmental impact report (FEIR) to analyze the environmental impacts associated with the proposed demolition of the two structures. The City has hired a consultant to prepare the FEIR in accordance with CEQA. The project is moving slowly through the process and the City is waiting for additional information from the applicant to continue the processing of the project.

“…I have forwarded your email to [the project planner for this project, Ricky] Ramos so that he may pass on the information contained in your email to the city's consultant in the preparation of the FEIR.”

It's good that City Planning knows the historic significance of these buildings,.. But that certainly doesn't mean they're out of harm's way. Hopefully everyone involved can work together to come up with a win-win outcome. I'll post more details as the become available.

Today's photo is a current view of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church. The 1934 church is on the left, and the 1910 mission is behind the fence on the right. The mural on the 1934 building was an addition by the pentecostal church that held services there in more recent years. (I'll let you supply your own "Rainbow vs. rainbow" joke.)

Link: An earlier post about the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dana Point, Don Dobmeier & Huntington Beach

This 1936 image is a bit lacking in resolution, but how often do you find a vintage shot of Capistrano Beach that shows not only Dana Point, the highway, and the railroad tracks, but also an identifiable business? The building at the bottom of the bluffs is the Palisades Cafe. At first, I thought this might be the same building as today's Olamendi's Mexican Restaurant -- a favorite of both the late President Nixon and the very-much-current Hedy Henderson. However, another view of the cafe, posted on the Pomona Public Library website, convinces me it's a different building at a slightly different location. Still, looking at the photo makes me want to stop for enchiladas.

Good news today! After being off the O. C. Historical Commission for a few weeks (for the first time in 33 years,) Don Dobmeier has been promptly reappointed. Supervisor and O.C. Historical Society member John Moorlach was the one to set things right. (After Don settles in and gets to know a few people, I'm sure he'll make a great Commissioner.)

The Huntington Beach City Council recently appointed Jerry Person as City Historian and Joel Watkins to the new and previously unannounced positon of City Archivist. Both were appointed for 4-year terms. As I understand it, Jerry -- who has been active in local history for many years -- will be the public interface guy. Meanwhile, Joel -- a computer guy for the City and a graduate from the CSUF History program -- will take on the major task of digitizing the City's historic documents, as well as the large collection of photos amassed by previous City Historians Bud Higgens and Alicia Wentworth. I look forward to working with both new appointees in the near future. (Yes, I've got a couple H.B.-related projects up my sleeve.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dr. John Cooper, Laguna Hills & Westminster

Here's a photo of the Hiway 39 Drive-In Theater under construction, in spring of 1955. It opened just a couple weeks before Disneyland, and was located off Beach Blvd in Westminster (just south of today's 22 Fwy). It closed forever in 1997 and was replaced by a bunch of "big box" stores. Who needs entertainment under the stars when you can buy discount crap produced by Chinese slave labor?

The Laguna Hills Community Center is sponsoring a "Slice of History Hike," which amounts to a guided 3-mile walking tour of the city's pre-history. The event will begin at 8am at the Community Center and costs $5. For more information, call (949) 707-2630.

CSUF Emeritus Professor of Geological Sciences, Dr. John "Coop" Cooper died of a heart attack while taking a morning walk on Sept. 3. He joined the faculty in 1970, retired in 2002, and continued to be very active in his emeritus role. Steven Murray (Dean, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics) and David Bowman (Chair, Dept. of Geological Sciences) released a statement praising Cooper as a "legendary figure among geology students at Cal State Fullerton; he supervised the theses of almost 60 students during his career. He was giant in the field of Sedimentary Geology and in recent years, John had led efforts to create a curatorial facility for the Orange County Archaeology and Paleontology collection."

Information about the memorial arrangements will be posted to the Dept. of Geological Sciences website.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Buena Park, Brea, Fountain Valley & Wintersburg

Today's photo depicts the Telephone Company building in Buena Park, probably around the late 1920s. If only office buildings were this attractive today.
Now that the kids are back in school and swim classes are over, the Brea Municipal Plunge (1929) will begin a rehabilitation process that will incorporate modern technology and ADA standards while simultaneously bringing back more of its original appearance. Sounds good to me.
I saw a huge stack of Dann Gibb's book, Images of America: Fountain Valley, at Costco (Fountain Valley) yesterday. If you don't already have a copy, now's your chance to get one on the cheap.

The movement to save the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church (1910) continues to build steam, but there's nothing new to report yet.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Huntington Beach "Pav-a-lon"

According to the late historian Alicia Wentworth, this photo was taken July 4, 1946. The building is the "Pav-a-lon": An entertainment venue built by the WPA in 1938 at the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier. This building most recently served as Maxwell's restaurant before being torn down to make way for Duke's.

I don't know why they called it the Pav-a-lon (or "Pavalon"), except that half the other towns on the coast already had a Pavilion. Also, in earlier years, Huntington Beach really played up its crystal clear view of Catalina Island. The island even appears on the City's official seal. So perhaps Pavalon is a reference to "Avalon."

From our viewpoint, standing atop the drug store (later Jack's), we can see a tilt-a-whirl (always a favorite of mine), a carousel, and some sort of vomit-comet ride. There was also a small ferris wheel to the right of the carousel. I haven't been able to pin down just how long the mini-fun-zone lasted at this location.

Notice the banner announcing "Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band" at the Pav-a-lon. Here's a YouTube clip from that very band, playing the "Muskrat Ramble" only a few years later.

For more about the Pav-a-lon, here's a link to a relevant article from the Independent by Jerry Person.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tustin, Anaheim, Savanna School District, etc.

Today's photo is an early image of Main Street in Tustin. Some of these buildings are still standing, in one form or another.

As part of Anaheim's ongoing sesquicentennial celebration, a time capsule will be unearthed at the Mother Colony House, 414 N. West St., this Sunday at 1pm. The capsule was buried during the City's centennial in 1957. The public is invited. A new time capsule will also be dedicated -- to be opened in 2057.

Dr. Sue Johnson, Supt. of the Savanna School District in West Anaheim, will give a presentation on the "History of the Savanna School District." The district has done a great job collecting materials, photos, interviews, etc. The talk will be held this Wednesday, Sept 12, at Maxwell School, 2613 W. Orange Avenue (NW corner of Magnolia and Orange Ave) at 7 PM. The event is open to the public, and refreshments wil be served.

Fountain Valley is holding a barbeque to as part of the City's ongoing 50th anniversary celebration. For details, click through to this Register article.

The Register also ran an article about the latest developments surrounding the historic Troubleman Cottage in San Juan Capistrano.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tony DeLeo, Costa Mesa, Disneyland & Balboa

Here's the photo I was going to post yesterday, to compliment the Costa Mesa news item. It's a view Newport Blvd in Downtown Costa Mesa in the 1950s.

One of my regular online haunts is a site with the unlikely title, Gorillas Don't Blog. Recently, it's webmaster, "Major Pepperidge," posted two especially impressive entries. First, he posted an amazing, large, oblique, color aerial photo of Disneyland in 1955. Also, he posted photos and a brochure from one of Disneyland's most obscure "attractions": The Crane Bathroom of Tomorrow. I've heard people joke about this for years, but I could never get a clear idea of what it looked like. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't look more like something from The Jetsons.

A memorial service for Tony DeLeo, owner of Tony's Architectural Salvage in Orange, will be held Sunday. Click through to the Register article for details.

Plans are now set for the Balboa Theatre (1927) to be remodeled and reopened. I hope "remodeled" means brought back to its original look, but who knows. In my day, this place was best known as the place where high school "theater geeks" attended late night (interactive) showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That cult flick played the midnight bill at the Balboa Theatre from the late 1970s until just before the theater closed in 1992.

Contrary to earlier reports, the Anaheim Public Library, 500 W. Broadway, will not resume regular hours until Monday. (This does not include the History Room, which remains closed.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Costa Mesa & Huntington Beach

This is a short entry for two reasons. First, "Blogger" is having technical difficulties that prevent me from posting a photo. Also, I got a late start, having spent some of this evening at a meeting of the Educational Committee for the upcoming Huntington Beach Centennial. Speaking of which,... If you have any old photos of H.B. you'd be willing to let me scan and use in a documentary, please let me know.

A bit more information is now available on the upcoming Adobe Open House and Pioneer Picnic hosted by the Costa Mesa Historical Society (CMHS). The event will be held in Estancia Park (at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe), 1900 Adams Ave., Sept. 15th, 10am-3pm. There will be a presentation on "Pioneers of the Past" at 1pm by Patty Boardman. Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket. This is a free event honoring those whose families arrived in Costa Mesa prior to 1940. To contact the CMHS, call (949) 631-5918.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In today's photo -- taken March 31, 1932 -- we see Sheriff's deputies dumping confiscated booze down the drain at the County yard on Fruit St. in Santa Ana. I'd guess those are WCTU ladies behind them.

The 8th Annual Dana Point Historical Society Home Tour will be held Oct. 7th, 11am-4 pm. The tour will feature a variety of architectural styles, from 1920s Spanish Revival to Modern. For more details, visit the DPHS website.

Disney has announced the release of a new 2-DVD set in the "Walt Disney Treasures" series, titled, "Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic." The set focuses on Disneyland's history, and should be released Dec. 11th. The previous "Disneyland, U.S.A." set in this series was very impressive and entertaining, so I'm hoping this one's just as good.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Calico Mine Ride, salvage sale, Westminster, etc.

The Calico Mine Ride, designed and built by Bud Hurlbut in 1960, was the first real "dark ride" at Knott's Berry Farm and is still surprisingly effective today. The photo above, (courtesy the Orange County Archives,) shows the "bottomless" cavern as it originally appeared. It's amazing what can be done with gunnite, no?

The Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society's (SAHPS) next salvage sale will be held Sept. 22nd, 10am-2pm, at the Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum, 120 Civic Center Dr., Santa Ana. (Across from the Old Courthouse.) They need storage space, so expect deep discounts on vintage materials saved from several older homes unfortunately slated for demolition. Items include doors, windows, wood trim, hardware, etc., etc. Santa Ana residents will get a discount with proof of residence.

The SAHPS will hold their 10th annual historical cemetery tour Oct. 20th at Fairhaven Memorial Park. Click through for more information.

As part of the City of Westminster's 50th Anniversary celebration, the Westminster Historical Society will hold a car show on Oct. 13, 9am-3pm, at Blakey Historical Park, 8612 Westminster Blvd. Free admission and parking for the public. For information, call (714) 334-7550.

I'm starting to hear rumblings of support for the threatened Wintersburg properties I wrote about Saturday. I can't say more than that yet, but maybe there's hope if we can get a grass-preservation effort going.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Anaheim Library, OC Historical Society, CSUF, etc

The Anaheim History Room closed yesterday and will not reopen until their move to the Muzeo building is complete in October. In the interim, maybe they’ll let Jane drive some of her collection around in one of these vintage bookmobiles. It could even play music like an ice cream truck. (Perhaps Jan & Dean's "Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle?") Can't you just see the kids running to ask their parents for a dollar, and then dashing after the truck to get copies from the Anaheim Gazette microfilm? (I'm guessing the postcard image above dates from the 1950s.)

Since I’m catching up on items from yesterday, I should point out that Saturday was also the 35th anniversary of our County bus service.

Now that Summer is winding down, the O.C. Historical Society is ramping back up with some new programs. David W. Muller, Executive Director of the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum will address the group Sept. 13, at 7:30pm at the Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar. He will discuss the history and future of the museum. The meeting will be preceded by a dessert potluck at 6:30pm. (This works like any other potluck, so bring goodies if you want to eat goodies.)

[CORRECTION:] The O.C. Historical Society’s following meeting will be held Oct. 11th, 7pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Orange. [Not in at Prentice Park as reported earlier.] Santa Ana Zoo Director Ronald Glazer will talk about the past, present and future” of the zoo. Hopefully, the history portion of the talk will include some discussion of the eccentric and irascible Judge Prentice.

CSUF will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Sat, Sept. 15, 10am-3pm with an on-campus open house. There will be live music, food booths, a historical exhibit, and activities for kids. They claim they’re holding elephant-free elephant races, but I have no idea how that’s supposed to work.

This morning’s Register reports that the “Doheny House” in Dana Point is still standing, despite the new owner’s wishes. The developer just paid for an environmental impact report (EIR), which will take about two months to complete. After the EIR is filed, the public will have 45 days to read and add their comments. (Usually, EIRs are available at City Hall and the Public Library.) Then the EIR will go to the City Planning Commission for approval.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church(es) threatened by trash

I hear that Rainbow Disposal may demolish several historic buildings from the early Japanese community at Wintersburg, to make way for a dumpster storage yard! On the southeast corner of Warner Ave. and Nichols in what is now Huntington Beach, these buildings include both the 1910 and 1934 incarnations of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church, as well as the old C. M. Furuta home. The photo above shows the newer, 1934 church, and the photo below shows the 1910 building.

The 1910 building, seems like it could be easily moved to another site for preservation. If we can't keep it in Huntington Beach, I think a great location would be next to the Orange County Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum at CSUF.

Everyone talks a good game about "multiculturalism," but let's see if all the fuss actually translates into action. If nothing else, I think Rainbow Disposal wouldn't mind some good P.R. in the community.

Below is one additional photo of the Furuta home. Like the churches (and about a block of farm and gardens), the house is now surrounded by construction fencing -- mainly to keep the vandals out.
Wintersburg is the most important historic Asian-American community in O.C. of which there is any remaining physical evidence. It would be more than just a crying shame to see these landmarks destroyed.