Saturday, March 07, 2009

Good news and bad news at O.C. Fairgrounds

The bad news is that the Administration Building at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa is now completely demolished. The photos above show the demolition as of March 3, and the empty space I found there today. So little is left of Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB), that it's a shame to lose any of the remaining structures. It's even worse to lose such a nice example that also housed the Fair's offices for the past 60 years. It had quite a story.
The good news is that several other SAAAB buildings still stand at the fair grounds. One of them is a two-story and nearly as nice as the Admin. Building. I hope they plan to hang on to (and maybe even restore) this building -- which is now clearly the best remaining bit of SAAAB.The photo below is the same building from another angle. What a great building. Too bad it's covered in stucco. I suspect the original wood siding is hiding underneath.The 11 historical plaques in front of this building include one from the O.C. Historical Commission, which reads,
Santa Ana Army Air Base Site. Memorial Garden established 1954. The Air Base was one of the largest of its kind in the nation. It was activiated in February of 1942. Pilots trained here for Europe and the Pacific during World War II.
Another plaque reads,
Santa Ana Army Air Base Construction Accomplishments
3 months, site approval to ground breaking.
4 months to start of training of 5,000 cadets.
14 months, ground breaking to 3,000,000 sq. ft. in 800 buildings housing 26,000 cadets on 1,337 acres.
33 miles of waterlines, reservoir, 2 wells.
31 miles of electrical lines, 39 miles of paved roads, 28 miles of sewer.
And yet another plaque, from the American Society of Civil Engineers, marks the SAAAB as an "Orange County Historic Civil Engineering Landmark."

The next two photos show two more small SAAAB buildings that still stand at the Fairgrounds. I could not find any others. If you know of another one, please let me know.
The destruction of the Administration Building is definitely a loss, but happily it is not our last physical link to SAAAB. Hopefully this incident will serve as a wakeup call to be vigilant in defense of the other remaining structures from this historic air base.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for photo-documenting the remaining structures. Your photos will be of great value in the future.
Hopefully the fair higher ups can be more respectful of the remaining structures and historic landscape.
Not sure how legal the demo. activities where?

OC History said...

What a thorough shame. Apparently the Orange County Fair Board or Director don't value Orange County History.

Gericault said...

There are two more in the City that I know of. They look like Barracks. They are on Hamilton , just West of Harbor. They are used as apartments and pretty run down but they're there. They were moved when they sold the airbase. Many building were moved throughout the city. The quonset huts on 17th, the Costa Mesa Grange on Victoria and the Tower records Hanger on Newport Blvd and 17th.Probably more throughout the city but I'm not sure of the whole "history". Sad about the administration building....I posted the Demilition video you had up as protest on the Derail the Sale website when the Fair Board was trying to sell the fairgrounds to them selves last summer.