Friday, March 30, 2012

Disneyland, hiking Olinda, the Maag House, etc.

Here's the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail swooping over the Disneyland Hotel parking lot, in the 1960s. (I'm sure you car fanatics already have the date figured out down to the month.) Don Ballard's first book about this place, Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years, 1954-1988, has just been reprinted. Often such one-man's-quest/self-published books end up rotting forlornly in their authors' garden sheds. But this reprint is a real testament to a beautiful and well-researched book that's contagious in its appeal. If you weren't interested in the subject when you picked up the book, just give it a few pages. (He also has a sequel out now, which I unfortunately haven't seen yet.)

Join the Orange County Historical Society on its second "History Hike" on April 15th, at 9am. This time, our hike leaders and historians will take us through the historic oil fields and vanished town of Olinda, near Brea. For some reason, the event isn't on the Society's website yet, but the chair of the Society's hike committee, has the information posted on her blog. The hike will also include a visit to the Olinda Oil Museum, which I wrote about when it opened four years ago. The photo below shows a scene of Downtown Olinda in about 1920.
The Heritage Museum of Orange County (the Kellogg House people) have a shiny new Flickr account, and it looks like our friend Jason Smith is filling it up with interesting photos and other materials from their collection. The photo below shows the Maag House in its original location (now part of Fairhaven Cemetery) around 1900. The house is now on the grounds of the museum.
And don't forget,... There's a whole Orange County History group on Flickr that always seems to have new and interesting things being added by its over 250 members. Check it out, or join and add your own photos!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trains, Irvine, Doris, Don Kennedy, owls, etc.

I've been down with a bug this week, and this is the first day I've even felt good enough to get my butt in front of a computer. Luckily, people have been sending me worthwhile news items for the blog, which makes it easy on me.

Our friend, Earl Nickles, the last of the railroad barbers, writes, "The Orange County Railway Historical Society is a very informal group and is open to anyone. The meetings are held on the first Monday of each month except when it is a holiday. Then we do second Monday. We meet on the fifth floor of the vestibule tower at the Santa Ana Depot, 1000 E. Santa Ana Blvd. Socializing begins at 7pm and the program at 7:30. [At] the April 2nd program ...our presenter will be Bert Hermey. Bert and his partner, Al Bishop are co-owners of a set of private rail cars that they maintain and make available for lease. Their customers include railroads, private parties, businesses, movie productions and others. Their present cars are all former Zephyr cars. They are the Silver Lariat, Silver Rapids and the Silver Solarium. ...It is a first class operation in services, amenities and food quality. ...Come and hear what it takes to develop and maintain an operation like this."
Further down the tracks, the Irvine Historical Society will offer a one-hour walking tour of Old Town Irvine (Sand Canyon Ave. at Burt Rd.) on April 1 at 11:30am. According to the State of California, "Old Town Irvine stands today as a testament to the rich agricultural past of what has become one of California's most heavily urban counties. Founded in 1887 as the distribution and storage center of the 125,000-acre Irvine ranch, Old Town Irvine was to develop over the years a bean and grain storage warehouse (1895) and granary (1947) known as the Irvine Bean and Grain Grower's Building [shown above], a blacksmith's shop (1916), a hotel (1913), a general store (1911), and an employees' bungalow (1915). All of these structures have been rehabilitated for commercial uses and their exteriors have been painstakingly maintained." Tours are $5, and reservations are required. Call Gail at 949-854-0510.
Donald P. Kennedy, longtime head of First American Title Co. (now First American Corp.) died Saturday at age 93. He grew the business from a local operation -- started by his grandfather, C.E. Parker, as Orange County Title in 1889 -- into a global giant. The Register is running part of an old interview with Don on their website, and the L.A. Times has an obit on theirs.

Those of us in the local history field immediately think of First American's collection of over 12,000 historical photos when we hear the company's name. It was the Parker/Kennedy family's commitment to preserving our roots and being part of the Orange County community that led to the building and maintenance of this collection, and Don Kennedy has certainly been an important part of that continuing commitment. We thank him for being a "keeper of the flame."
Brent Walker, film historian and son of South Orange County historian Doris Walker is working to restore, scan and otherwise save both family and historical materials that were salvaged after the fire that tragically took the lives of both Doris and her husband Jack last year. He's sharing some gems as he comes across them. Brent writes, "Last month I started a new blog, which I'll update periodically. The first two posts (one in February, one just posted) feature photos [from] my mother's collection, which I've been able to salvage and scan. She had so many interesting adventures and endeavors in her life that I felt should be shared, so I hope to do some of that on this blog (in addition to occasional adventures of my own) as time permits."

If you have your own photos or memories of Doris, I'm sure Brent and his brother Blair would love it if you shared those also.

The photo above shows Doris (on the right) appearing as a guest on a cable access TV show out of Laguna Hills. The host, it seems, incorporated a ventriloquist's dummy into the show, which is a dauntingly weird concept in this Post-Howdy-Doody-Era. Doris is doing her best to play along and make nice, but her expression still reveals a certain amount of incredulity. Does anyone remember this series?
And finally, Adam B. writes: "I was told by a friend that a long time ago there was a bar located in Santa Ana, called the Blinking Owl. It was said to have a mechanical sign of an owl with a moving eyelid that went up and down. Have you heard of this place? Do you have any information about it? Perhaps any images?"

A 1971 L.A. Times article about a robbery shows the Blinking Owl at 312 N. Birch St. It looks like there's a parking structure there today. I know nothing more about this place, and my online searches only led me (strangely enough) to photos of macrame owls, which in turn stirred up disturbing childhood memories of seeing 1970s decor first-hand. Star Wars and The Muppet Show aside, it truly was America's most aesthetically repugnant decade.

Anyway, if someone has photos of the sign, please share. If nothing else, I know at least four of my readers who will enjoy it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anaheim, Laguna, Fullerton, Dana Point, etc.

You see?!? This is why we can't have nice things! Look what happened to Pearson Park's 1935 statue of actress Helena Modjeska as Mary, Queen of Scots by sculptor Eugen Haier-Krieg.

According to a Native Sons of the Golden West plaque, "This statue is the oldest Public Works of Art Project of its type in Orange County. Sponsored by the State Emergency Relief Administration, the Anaheim Rotary Club, and the City of Anaheim, it was originally dedicated on September 15, 1935. ...Modjeska... established an artists' colony in Anaheim in 1876. On the reverse side are four vineyard workers, representing the agricultural nature of the original Anaheim Colony."
You'll notice that the vineyard workers got the same "St-Peter's-cross-on-the-forehead" treatment from the village idiots. I can at least understand a lot of bad and stupid behavior, but I can't begin to understand this kind of pointless vandalism.

Lila Zali and the Laguna Beach Civic Ballet” will be the topic at the Laguna Beach Historical Society’s meeting, March 27, 7:30pm, in the City Council Chambers at Laguna Beach City Hall, 505 Forest Ave. The speaker -- former soloist, ballet mistress, and resident choreographer of the Laguna Beach Civic Ballet (now called Ballet Pacifica), Kathy Kahn-- will also be joined by Merilee Magnuson Blaisdell, Mary Hanf Monzingo, and June Budd. The program will also feature a 20-minute documentary, “A Loving Tribute,” by Jennifer and Steve Baker.
Sunday is the last day to see the exhibit, "Citrus Crate Labels: An Artistic Overview," at the Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave. I'm sort of kicking myself that I haven't driven up to Fullerton to see this yet.

Jay Jennings will present “an exhibit of  1950s-inspired photographs” of  Knott’s Berry Farm this Saturday, March 24, 1pm to 4pm, in the north wing of Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Prints will be available for sale.

The new documentary, “Dana Point: My Home Town,” will be shown at the March 28th meeting of the Dana Point Historical Society, 6:30pm, the Dana Point Tennis Center, 24911 Calle De Tenis.

And finally,… I need YOUR questions about Orange County (past or present) for my monthly “Orange County Answer Man” feature in Orange Coast Magazine. E-mail your questions to me, and I’ll do my best.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another voice in the fight for Wintersburg

There's a new blog in town, called Historic Wintersburg. It's dedicated to the history of the small village of Wintersburg, along Warner (formerly Wintersburg) Ave., between Beach Blvd. and Gothard St. in what is now part of Huntington Beach. The blog's author, "Surf City Writer," introduces us to the subject by saying, "In the late 1800s, the small agricultural community of Wintersburg was born. While the daily life of Huntington Beach swirls around it, what is left of Wintersburg tells the story of old California, Orange County agriculture, faith, and of California's Japanese Americans."

Clearly, the author is focused primarily on the town's Japanese American population, which is completely appropriate. As I've written here before, the complex of buildings made up of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church and the Furuta family's property is probably the most important extant Asian American historical site in Orange County, and it is under immediate threat of being completely demolished. (See some of my earlier posts on the subject: 9-1-2007, 9-12-2007, 10-4-2007, 7-10-2008, 5-10-2011, 5-14-2011, and 11-6-2011.)

The posts on Historic Wintersburg are generally quite long -- more magazine-length than normal blog-length. But readers with longer attention spans will be rewarded with in-depth content from experts and historians like Art Hansen, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at Cal State Fullerton, and Donna Graves, Project Director of Preserving California's Japantowns. The site also draws heavily on quotes from early Wintersburg residents and contemporary newspapers.

So surf on over, check it out, subscribe, add a link from your own blog (if appropriate), and please do what you can to help draw attention to this endangered historic site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Evening of Knott's Berry Farm history & OCHS

Knott's Berry Farm's History is the theme of the Orange County Historical Society's 2012 Annual Dinner, June 15, at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant in Buena ParkJ. Eric Lynxwiler, co-author of the book, Knott’s Preserved, will give a presentation on the Farm's colorful history, Knott's experts Phil Brigandi and Allen Palovik will lead a historical walking tour, and rare old Knott's film footage will be screened courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

(The photo above shows Walter Knott with artist Paul von Klieben, who designed so much of Ghost Town, in front of the General Store in 1947. The image below shows the cover of the book by Chris Merritt and Eric Lynxwiler.)

Dinner includes your choice of Mrs. Knott’s Famous Chicken or vegetarian lasagna, with all the trimmings, and boysenberry pie for dessert. Eric will be selling and signing his book afterwards.

This event is open to OCHS members and non-members alike, so bring your friends. Western attire is encouraged but not required. To make reservations or for more information visit Pre-payment must be received by June 5.
The photo above shows Eric speaking last year on the stage of Knott's Bird Cage Theatre. The photo below shows historian Phil Brigandi leading a historical tour along Grand Avenue in front of Knott's in 2010.

The first tour (scheduled for 5:00) has already sold out, and we were able to schedule two more -- but that's probably all we'll be able to do. So I encourage you to sign up soon if you want the tour included with the rest of the dinner program. But tour or no, this event should be a lot of fun. Hope you can join us!

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Joseph's Day in Capistrano

Today is St. Joseph's Day, when the cliff swallows traditionally return to Mission San Juan Capistrano. I say "traditionally," because the only swallows nests you'll find there today are the fake ones tacked in place for purposes of "historical interpretation."

It seems Capistrano isn't the cool place for swallows to hang out these days. First they moved to the Mission Viejo Mall, and the last I heard they were using the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills and underpasses on the I-5 Freeway as their Southern California nesting places. I doubt anyone will write romantic songs about freeways and malls to update Leon René's 1940 hit, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," (sheet music shown above).

That song has been covered by a wide array of artists from the Ink Spots to Gene Autry to Bugs Bunny. Wikipedia claims, "A glassed-off room in the mission was later designated in René's honor, and displays the upright piano on which he composed the tune, the reception desk from his office, several copies of the song's sheet music and other pieces of furniture, all donated by René's family."

I have no memory of seeing this room, but it would hardly be the first time that either my memory or Wikipedia had failed me.
The Mission, of course, is celebrating St. Joseph's Day today, with bell ringing and other festivities. The city as a whole will celebrate the Fiesta de las Golondrinas on Saturday the 24th, with the traditional parade, etc.

Any guesses where the swallows will alight this year?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Modjeska's home, in the Forest of Arden

A quick "before and after" of Helena Modjeska's library at her home at Arden. The image above shows the room around 1900. I shot the matching photo below last year. (I'm told a relative of Modjeska's supplied the replica of the lion table.)
Even if you have zero interest in long-gone stage actresses, there are plenty of good reasons to visit the Modjeska Historic House & Gardens, which is now a County Historical Park. Here are a few of them:

1) It's the only house in the western United States designed by renown architect Stanford White.

2) The grounds and surrounding terrain are beautiful. I'm talking redwood trees, rose gardens, winding trails, fountains, lilacs, and little woodland animals scampering about.

3) Part of the house and some of the surrounding buildings began life as the home of J.E. Pleasants, so it has some great local Old West pioneer history tied to it.

4) It's a good excuse to get out of your usual urban/suburban environment for a while. This would be an appropriate place to point out that Arden is right next door to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a pretty cool place to explore in its own right.

5) Modjeska was, as Mel Brooks would say, "world famous in Poland," and was also well known throughout the U.S. and Europe. That means she had a lot of famous friends, many of whom came to stay with her from time to time. You may be interested in some of the turn-of-the century celebrities who came to visit.

 6) It's your only chance to see Orange County's first swimming pool. Exciting, no?

7)  Arden is one of only two National Historic Landmarks in Orange County. So you can check it off your list after you visit.

8) The Parks staff in charge of the place are great and really care about this important site. Okay, that's not a reason to visit, but do say hello for me.

To find out more about how and when to visit, see

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Something Orange for St. Patrick's Day

The Anaheim Orange & Lemon Association incorporated in 1918. It's mission-style packinghouse (shown above) at 424 S. Los Angeles St. (now Anaheim Blvd), was completed in 1919. Over a period of almost 40 years, millions and millions of locally grown citrus fruits were packed in this building and sent to markets all over the country in railroad cars. Neglected for the past half-century, something interesting is now happening to this old packinghouse. Soon we'll all be able to enjoy another re-purposed bit of historic Orange County. But first, a little background,...
According to Mike Tucker's Anaheim Colony website, "The Anaheim Orange and Lemon Association hired Duncan Gleason to create five brand labels:  Doria, Sonia, Delicia, Favorita [Red Ball], and Meritoria [Orchard Run].  The women on all five are modeled after Gleason's wife, Dorothy.  He used the money he earned from the label designs to finance his honeymoon."
Other brands used by the Association included Oriental (Choice) and Bohemia (Standard).

In his book, Citrus Powered the Economy of Orange County, Dick Barker writes, "Gerald W. Sandilands, who helped organize the association, served as secretary and manager from 1918 until his death... in September 1951."

The Association stopped handling lemons in 1931, and in 1936 they changed their name to the Anaheim Valencia Orange Association. The packing house's last season was 1957, and the association disbanded in 1958.
I'm happy to report that the exterior of the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Association packinghouse is now being restored and the interior converted into a sort of gourmet food court by the same people who developed "The LAB Antimall" and "The Camp" shopping center, near South Coast Plaza. Three cheers for adaptive reuse! The Anaheim Historical Society's blog (maintained by Kevin Kidney) has been covering the project's progress. (See an earlier post here, and a more recent post here.)

Also, the developers themselves have a website called Tracking the Packing, which features some great photos and some rather iffy history. (For example, Orange County was NOT named for our citrus industry -- which did not yet exist.) We'll happily overlook the research glitches, since they seem to be doing a beautiful job with the restoration.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Huntington Beach and the 1938 flood

March 1938 was a bit soggier than March 2012, and the photos of said sogginess never fail to astound. There had been worse floods here in terms of sheer amount of water, but there were a lot fewer people (and no cameras) here when it happened. The photo above comes from Duane Wentworth, the son of my old friend, Huntington Beach City Historian Alicia Wentworth. The photo shows what's now Southeast Huntington Beach in the foreground, and old Downtown Huntington Beach and the oil fields in the background.

Duane writes, "Thought you might like this photo for the... site. ...For reference, the farm just left of center is Bushard and Indianapolis. This photo was in my mother's collection."

To make it easier to understand what we're looking at, I overlaid the locations major streets on the photo. You may want to zoom in on both the original and the edited version to see more details.
Search "flood" on this blog to find a bunch more information about the horrors of March 1938.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The End of Downtown Anaheim, Part II

My March 4th post about the destruction of Downtown Anaheim (with photos from Dave Mason) clearly touched a lot of nerves. And it definitely generated a lot of comments, emails, and links on Facebook. I'm told it even gave a renewed burst of energy to  some folks in Anaheim who are currently working on a preservation-related project.  

The best response I received, however, was from Diann Marsh herself, who -- along with Andy Deneau -- led the charge to save Downtown Anaheim. She now lives out of the area, but read my post. She began in the comments section of the post, writing...
"I LIVED that time--right in the middle of it! ... We lived north of redevelopment, but I fell in love with the buildings downtown. Andy Deneau and I went to Norman Priest, Redevelopment Director and asked him how the buildings could be saved. He said that if they were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we would save them. We looked at each other and thought, 'We can do that.'"
Diann continued the story in an email to me: 
"We attended the State Historical Commission hearing in Los Angeles and managed to get the nomination approved. When it went to Washington, Anaheim officials went along to block it. They persuaded the feds to deny it on the basis that an archaeological study was not done. As far as we know, that excuse wasn't used for any other applications. I guess ours was special!"
"Andy was a dispatcher for the Anaheim Fire Department. I was a housewife, mother of seven, and an artist. So I guess we could be termed as 'nobodies.' Andy was the first president of the Anaheim Historical Society and I was vice-president, in 1977. The fledgling group of 12 people were harshly criticized for wanting to save downtown. To say that a lot of people didn't like us is putting it mildly."
Diann went on to describe some vicious personal attacks by people you'd THINK would support the preservation of their own town. I'm leaving out some names here not because I want to protect the guilty, but because I don't want this blog to turn into something political. (People of all political stripes can and have been blinded by redevelopment madness in Orange County over the years.) Suffice it to say that people in the community who wanted redevelopment handouts stood against her, some city officials stood against her, and state officials who thought thwarting preservation was their ticket to Washington, D.C. also stood against her.

One important elected official was quoted in the newspapers, saying, 'We don't care how we get the buildings torn down. We just want them gone.' According to Diane, another official, when told that 25 square blocks of homes would be demolished, "remarked that the people in those neighborhoods didn't care and probably didn't even speak English."
The photo above is a 1955 view of the S.Q.R. Store (1925) at 202 W. Lincoln Ave. It was demolished in 1978 during "Redevelopment Project Alpha." S.H. Kress & Co. is visible on the far right.

Diane continued,...
"My husband and I, lived north of Redevelopment, on North Philadelphia St., and I represented the Anaheim Historical Society on the Project Area Committee. ...I  met a fellow who lived on Broadway, in Redevelopment. He and I printed and distributed flyers throughout the neighborhoods.  The next Tuesday night 68 mad people turned up at the P.A.C. meeting! Of course [the committee leadership] cancelled the meeting and, by the time we met two weeks later, had developed a plan to divide the neighborhoods into five sections. That's called Divide and Conquer -- I think it was invented by the Romans.

"Four  of the neighborhoods worked with the city and were saved, including the 50's neighborhood between the railroad tracks and East Street. However, the people in the 72-house Kroeger-Melrose neighborhood did not like the city officials and would not go to meetings. Then someone got a notice that the bank would not okay their refinancing because they were going to be demolished!"
[Ed: The photo above shows the Martenet Hardware Store, at 323 W. Center St. in 1979 -- the year it was demolished.]

But not everyone was an impediment to preservation. The dozen or so original members of the Anaheim Historical Society put up a good fight, and according to Diann,...
"The staff in the State Office really wanted to help preservationists. During the 22 years I worked with them they stood up for historic preservation time after time and rescued me more than a few times.

"Aaron Gallup worked with me on the National Register application on that 72-house neighborhood, including the layout. The process included a visit by a member of the State Historic Preservation Commission.  Aaron was driving, with the Commissioner in the front seat. Aaron cut across the front yard of one house, so the Commissioner would not see an ugly carbuncle of an addition on the roof of one of the houses.

"At the Commission hearing, Anaheim officials were told that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for wanting to destroy the neighborhood. A reporter from the local newspaper wrote a true account of the proceedings and was promptly fired. I really felt bad about that but he said it was okay. Six meetings later,  I was voted off of the P. A.C right in front of my face. I was proud of myself for not bursting into tears. Oddly, most of the members did not get what they wanted from the city."
Efforts at preservation were not a total loss, as the Kraemer Building, the Carnegie Library, Pearson Park, and many square miles of charming historic neighborhoods are still standing. But Downtown Anaheim is still essentially M.I.A., a fact that has served as an object lesson for other cities.

Diann went on to work for preservation in other places, beginning with French Park in Santa Ana. She writes,...

"We moved [away] from Anaheim in 1986, because we found an Italianate house in Santa Ana that was going to be torn down if no one agreed to take it the next day. We agreed and moved the house three times before it was put on our lot in the French Park Historic District. The people that bought our house, in Anaheim (the Olesons) banded together with  the Torgersons, the Hortons, the Caldwells and others. They  took over the fight and were able to do some great things. They continued with the neighborhood work and were responsible for a lot of the restoration of Kroeger-Melrose District.

"We lived in and were active in Santa Ana for 11 years before moving to Illinois in 1999...

"I don't regret our time in Anaheim. It was really a special time and I knew so many wonderful people in Anaheim as well as in several other cities. It was the beginning of my interest in historic houses. Times were so different! Most people didn't even understand what a Craftsman house was or its significance.

"I guess I would do it all over again, but be a lot wiser and a lot more politically savvy."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Placentia, Fullerton, Santa Ana, and Olive

 Today's photos are really just one photo with some detail shots cropped out of it. The image shows the Placentia Orange Growers Association packing house (surprisingly located in Fullerton) in 1894. The fruit worked its way down the line largely through gravity, with sorting and culling done as it rolled its way toward the folks actually packing the fruit. Additional power for this set-up was provided "by a man pumping a pair of bicycle pedals."
 So what's the girl thinking in the photo below? "The boss's son has never packed an orange in his life. But once he finds out a photographer's here,..."

Notice squares of tissue paper in which each orange would be wrapped. Notice also that the shipping crates look a bit flimsier than the field boxes (stenciled "Placentia O G" in the back of the photo). The flexibility of the shipping crates allowed them to be stuffed until they bulged a bit, keeping the fruit from knocking around in transit.
 On March 22nd, the Placentia Library District will hold the premier of a new historical documentary DVD, entitled, Placentia: A Pleasant Place, at 7pm, in the Placentia Library Meeting Room, 411 E. Chapman Ave. If you plan to attend, call (714) 528-1906, ext. 200 to RSVP before March 17th.
The Heritage Museum of Orange County (the Kellogg House people) will host "Create A Bit of History: Art & Artifacts," on March 10th, 10am to 5pm, at 3101 W. Harvard St., in Santa Ana. Local artists will sell their work and local historical organizations will have booths out with wares of their own. Plus, you'll also get the chance to see some of the interesting artifacts that have been tucked away in the museum's collection but seldom (if ever) displayed. Admission is free. Tours of the Kellogg House and the museum's collection are $5.

Speaking of events, I hope to see at least some of you at Thursday (tomorrow) night's Orange County Historical Society meeting. I'm looking forward to Daralee's presentation on the Town of Olive.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Fullerton That Ate Orange County

I saw this promotional map in the background of an otherwise fairly unexciting photo and had to blow it up and check out the details. I've seen some pretty exaggerated maps in my day, but this one takes the cake. Look at the SIZE of Fullerton! It stretches from the desert to the sea (apologies to the late Jerry Dunphy) and from Newport Harbor to Long Beach Harbor! In fact, Fullerton seems to fill the entire county north and west of the Irvine Ranch,... and then some. Does anyone have an actual copy of this map they can scan, so we can see more details?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Fox Theater and the end of Downtown Anaheim

 Today's photos come from reader Dave Mason and show the demolition of Anaheim's Fox Theater "around 1979." It stood on the north side of W. Lincoln Ave., near Lemon Street, in the area that was Downtown Anaheim before the bulldozers arrived. The theater was opened in 1920 as part of the West Coast Theatres chain, and included a backstage area and dressing rooms for vaudeville shows. It initially operated as the California Theatre but soon became the Fox Theater.
A 1978 L.A. Times article about Downtown Anaheim began, "A move to get 24 downtown buildings listed in the National Register of Historical (sic) Places is politically motivated and aimed at hobbling downtown renewal, the Community Redevelopment Commission said... Chairman James Morris said the move to get the buildings listed for historical recognition is contrived solely to jeopardize or halt redevelopment.

Those 24 sites included Martinet Hardware, the SQR Store, the Rosemarie Apartments, the California Building, the Marietta Court  Apartments, the Fox Theater block, Zion Lutheran Church, the Kraemer Garage, the Carnegie Library, the Pickwick Hotel, the Masonic Temple, the Angelina Kraemer Hotel, City Hall, the Samuel Kraemer Building, the German Methodist Church, the Church of His Holy Presence, First Presbyterian Church, the Ferdinand Baxhaus House, the Richard Melrose House, the Union Pacific Depot, and Pearson Park. Essentially, it was the heart of historic Downtown Anaheim.
 In the article, I'm particularly amused (in a "black humor" sort of way) by Morris' indignation that anyone would try to stand in the way of ripping out the heart of their town in order to replace it with soon-to-be-vacant office buildings and a Von's shopping center. It's like a tiger complaining that a mother is trying to prevent a child from becoming a snack. The impertinence! 
 I only wish that Diann Marsh and her band of preservationists had prevailed. In fact, is there anyone today who DOESN'T wish that Downtown Anaheim had been saved? Which would you prefer: A historic downtown like Orange, or the mess that stands on the site of old Downtown Anaheim today?
 Luckily, at least a few token bits of Downtown were saved, including the Carnegie Library (now part of the "Muzeo") and the Kraemer Building. Also, the community's anger over the destruction lead to a movement that lashed out against the bureaucrats with PAC money and lawyers and succeeded in saving some of the city's historic neighborhoods. I know many people who live in those neighborhoods today, and the area is both unique and charming. Unfortunately, so much is already gone forever.
Let Downtown Anaheim's fate be a lesson to other communities that see wholesale destruction of their history as the path to glory. It isn't. You end up trading your soul for a strip mall and your individuality for a Jiffy Lube. And future generations will blame you for ripping their inheritance away from them.
Hopefully, the death of the redevelopment agencies will prevent this from happening again, but I presume it will only be a matter of time before the same old scam artists find a new scam.

Read PART II of this article here.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Town of Olive

The history of the town of Olive (now part of northern Orange) will be the topic of the Orange County Historical Society's general meeting this Thursday, March 8. OCHS board member Daralee Ota will discuss the area's early pastoral days; the rancho lifestyle of the Yorbas; the bustling, boomtown era when Olive boasted a lucrative flour mill; the citrus era; and Olive's development into a modern residential community. Daralee's program will be based, in part, on her Web site, Olive Through the Ages. The program will begin at 7:30p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. (which is actually in Olive), and is free to the public.

The photo at the top of today's post shows the old St. Paul's Lutheran Church (1912) in Olive, which is now part of North Orange Christian Church. The photo below shows the second flour mill at Olive on opening day in 1890.
 In the 1800s, the area below the bend of the Santa Ana River was known by several names, including Yorbas, Santa Ana (before the modern community of Santa Ana was founded), Old Santa Ana, Burruel Point, Olive Ranch, and eventually Olive. Although Olive never became its own city, many still identify themselves as Olive residents.

Daralee launched her Olive website when she found very little information about the community online. Having grown up near the area and wondering about this town that faded away over the decades, Daralee began researching Olive in 2004, amazed to discover its rich and vast history.

A few years ago, she added the "Living Branch" section to her Web site to share even more information about Olive's history, including stories, maps, and images contributed by individuals with a personal interest or connection to Olive. (Submissions of photos and other relevant content are welcomed for possible inclusion in this portion of the Web site.)

All the photos in today's post come from her site. The photo above shows the Olive Heights Citrus Association packing house (1928) as it appeared in 1982. The photo below shows the Schorn House (ca 1889) at Ocean View and Bixby in Olive.
I got a very brief preview of the presentation Daralee has prepared, and it's rather impressive. She should be making documentaries for PBS or something. Anyway, I hope to see you on Thursday.