From orange-shaped citrus stands, to the Brown Derby, to the giant dinosaurs of Cabazon, nothing says “Southern California” quite like our crazy architecture. Join author and historian Jim Heimann on a virtual tour through our audacious and innovative landscape of eccentric buildings at the Thurs., Nov. 8 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society at 7:30p.m. Heimann will discuss programmatic architecture (e.g. “buildings that look like things”): a unique and enduring expression of American vernacular architecture.
Americans’ predilection for wanderlust at the beginning of the automobile age prompted inventive entrepreneurs to address this new mode of transportation. Starting in the 1920’s, attention-grabbing buildings began to appear that would draw drivers going 35 m.p.h. to stop in for snacks, provisions, souvenirs, or a quick meal. The architectural establishment deemed them “monstrosities” and dismissed them. Yet they flourished, especially along America’s Sunbelt, as their owners heeded a creative impulse and constructed giant owls, dolls, pigs, ships, coffee pots, and fruit. Their symbolic intent was guileless, prompting their slow deletion in a chapter of America’s social and architectural history. Yet photographic documentation of the past 40 years has assured their place in the architectural hierarchy and has prompted this building type to continue to flourish.
Southern California native Jim Heimann is a historian, cultural anthropologist, author, educator, and the executive editor of Taschen Publishing America. He has been active in the arts field for the past 45 years publishing numerous books and articles and is a faculty member of Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, where he has taught since 1988. A greatly expanded and beautifully illustrated third edition of his classic book, California Crazy: American Pop Architecture (first published almost 40 years ago) was released earlier this year.
Our meeting will be held on Thursday, November 8th, at 7:30 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.
As always, members and the general public are cordially invited to attend.