February 2017 Meeting – Nixon’s New and Improved Museum – Speaker: Jason Schultz

The museum at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library just underwent a $15-million renovation of the permanent galleries. This is the first large-scale renovation since opening as a privately operated institution in 1990. Supervisory Archivist Jason Schultz will discuss this new, highly interactive, thematic, and immersive museum at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The program will be held Feb. 9, 2017, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. This event is open to the public at no charge.

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum is one of 14 Presidential Libraries operated by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). In addition to the exhibit spaces, the President’s birthplace, and the helicopter, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library is home to 46 million pages of textual materials, hundreds of thousands of photographs, and thousands of hours of audio and video recordings.

Richard Milhous Nixon – one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the 20th Century – was born January 9, 1913, in the small town of Yorba Linda. Today, the area’s rolling hills, unassuming downtown, occasional patches of open land, and tinges of rural roots remind us of the agricultural Orange County of Nixon’s youth. Nixon’s favorite items are still marked on the menus of local Mexican restaurants, and surfers still point out the old “Western White House” in San Clemente. And of course, the Nixon Library is the primary place where researchers and the general public come to better understand the 37th President of the United States. However you may feel about him, Nixon’s imprint on Orange County is everywhere.

Also born and raised in Orange County, our speaker, Jason Schultz wanted to be an archivist after learning as a teenager of the existence of the Walt Disney Archives. After working in Disneyland Guest Relations while majoring in History at the University of California, Irvine, Jason co-authored several books about Disneyland. He joined NARA while a student at the University of Maryland, earning master’s degrees in History and Library & Information Science.

In 2009 he transferred to the Nixon Library in College Park, Maryland, as an archivist, overseeing the details of moving 26,000 boxes of Nixon Presidential Materials across the country. Jason returned to Orange County in 2010 and was promoted to Supervisory Archivist in July 2014.

We hope you’ll join us for fascinating look at the transformation of one of Orange County’s most important historical institutions.

January 2017 Meeting – Whaling Along The Orange County Coast – Speaker: Bob Minty

Nautical historian Bob Minty will discuss whaling off the coast of Orange County in his presentation, “19th Century Legends: Whalers, Scrimshanders, and California Shore Whaling” at the Jan. 12, 2017 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

“There is slight mention in our California public schools on the economic and social importance of California’s Whaling Industry during the 19th and 20th centuries,” says Minty. “Instead, we learn romantic tales of the life of the sailor and accounts of barbarous whalers that ransacked our seas.”

Minty plans to provide a clearer picture of this historic industry and scotch a variety of misconceptions and myths about the “Romance of the Sea.” Attendees will also learn…
• How folk art sheds light on the lives and mental make-up of whalers
• The connection between Richard Nixon and the original Nantucket whalers
• How Orange County played a key role in our nation’s whaling industry
• What whales, legislation, and Conquistador Hernán Cortés have in common

Bob Minty

The program will conclude with the film clip “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” from Elmer Clifton’s 1922 silent film, “Down to the Sea in Ships,” filmed on the 19th century whaleship, Charles W. Morgan, out of New Bedford.

Bob Minty is the Program Chair of the Dana Point Historical Society, and has been a member of Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano “living history” groups – portraying Richard Henry Dana, Jr. – for more than twenty years.

For the past several years Bob has also prepared exhibits and lectures for the Ocean Institute on the history of California shore whaling and scrimshaw. His next scheduled exhibits will be held in March at the Dana Point Festival of Whales and in September at the Dana Point Tall Ships Festival.

December 2016 Meeting – Show and Tell!

It’s time again to rack your brain and rummage through your garage and your scrapbooks in preparation for the Orange County Historical Society’s annual Show & Tell and holiday gathering! Save the date for Dec. 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Plan to bring a choice artifact, photo, or a bit of memorabilia that connects to an interesting story or fact about Orange County’s past.

Maybe it’s an orange crate from the packing plant mom worked in. Or maybe it’s great-grandpa’s branding iron, an early redwood surfboard, a plate from an old local restaurant, or a one-of-a-kind photo of Walt Disney giving Water Knott a “noogie.” Everyone’s looking forward to seeing and hearing about the item you bring.

We’ll have a sign-up sheet when you enter and participants will be called up one at a time. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.

November 2016 Meeting – Garden Grove: A History of the Big Strawberry – Speaker: Jim Tortolano

Author Jim Tortolano will discuss the colorful history of Garden Grove at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, Nov. 10, 2015, 7:30 p.m at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Tortolano’s book, Garden Grove: A History of the Big Strawberry, was published in 2015. This event is open to the general public at no cost.

The first pioneers began settling the Garden Grove area in the late 1860s – the era when the ranchos were breaking up and parcels of land were being sold to farmers and developers alike. In 1876, Alonzo Gerry Cook laid out the small crossroads townsite of Garden Grove – a name first applied a year earlier to the local school district. This section of the Santa Ana Valley was largely barren land, with barely a tree to its name, much less a garden. But Cook was determined that through hard work the town would soon live up to its name. And indeed, it would.

Over the decades, the community would reinvent itself numerous times, adapting to changes in agriculture and population, decline and development, disaster and triumph. When the railroad arrived in 1905, the population doubled. The town flourished as an agricultural hub thanks to the bounties of oranges, walnuts, chili peppers and the crop that earned the city’s nickname—the strawberry.

The resilient little town bounced back after extensive damage in both the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 and the flood of 1938. During the post-WWII years Garden Grove was among the fastest growing communities in America, and it finally incorporated as a city in 1956. Today, the city has a diverse population of over 170,883.

Our speaker, Jim Tortolano, is a Garden Grove resident and veteran journalist, who has worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Orange County Evening News and Los Angeles Times in editing and reporting jobs, and served as editor and co-owner of Garden Grove Journal for 30 years. He is currently a professor of journalism at Golden West College, and was previously a military reservist and television sports broadcaster.

October 2016 Meeting – Costa Mesa, Coming of Age: 1940-2003 – Speaker: Art Goddard

Author Art Goddard will discuss Costa Mesa’s most dynamic period – from 1940 into the 2000s – at the Oct. 13th, 2016 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. This event is open to the public at no charge.

Once known for its row crops and Santa Ana Army Air Base, Costa Mesa has, in a relatively short period of time, become home to the O.C. Fairgrounds, South Coast Plaza, Orange Coast College, the O.C. Performing Arts Center, Vanguard University, the Pacific Symphony, South Coast Repertory Theater, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, about 112,000 residents, and much, much more.

Perhaps no one could have foreseen the amazing transformation of Costa Mesa from an unincorporated village along Newport Boulevard to today’s bustling “City of the Arts”. Together with other Orange County cities, Costa Mesa experienced explosive growth, redevelopment, county bankruptcy, and traffic.

While navigating these challenges, Costa Mesa emerged with its own brand of Southern California cityhood. Located at the confluence of three freeways and nearby John Wayne-Orange County Airport, Costa Mesa faces the future at the center of the South Coast Metro complex.

Our speaker is Art Goddard, who with his wife Mary Ellen Goddard co-authored the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s latest book, Costa Mesa: 1940-2003. Art is a retired aerospace executive known for entertaining and informative presentations on Costa Mesa history and for leading the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s foray into digital preservation and cataloging.

The Costa Mesa Historical Society is an all-volunteer organization formed in 1966 to operate the restored Diego Sepulveda Adobe as a museum. Today, the Society operates two museums, a research library and archive. The Society actively reaches out to the public via monthly programs and annual events such as Early California Days.

September 2016 Meeting – Wine in Orange County – Speakers: Sue McIntire and Don Dobmeier

7:30 pm on Thursday, September 8th, Sherman Library and Gardens

Social Hour and Potluck at 6:30 pm

 

Bottling at the Bullard Winery, Anaheim, circa 1885

Wine’s storied path from the Old World to California and the historic and modern wine industries in Orange County will be the subject of the Orange County Historical Society’s season kick-off program, Sept. 8, 2016, at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. OC Parks Historical Parks Manager Sue McIntire and longtime OCHS board member Don Dobmeier and will regale us with tales of the grape and vine. A social hour and optional potluck of appetizers and desserts will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.

May 2016 Meeting – The Historical Restoration of St. John’s – Speaker: Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg

St Johns under-construction, 1913, Photo courtesy of the Orange Public Library

How do you bring an iconic, beloved, 1914 building up to date and up to code while still preserving its historical integrity? Senior pastor Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg will discuss the incredible restoration and retrofitting of Orange’s St. John’s Lutheran Church, at the May 12th, 2016 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

St. John’s got its start in the early 1880s. Initially, they had 13 members and nine students in their school. As Orange and the church grew, St. John’s went through a couple of smaller sanctuaries before building their current landmark church in 1914. Today, their congregation has 4,000 members, their school has 800 students, and the church building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places.

But along the way, the 1,100-seat sanctuary has gotten a lot of wear and tear, and modern building codes have passed it by again and again. By the church’s 100th birthday, it was clearly time for a major overhaul. A combination of old-school craftsmanship and the latest technology were necessary to improve structural integrity without ruining historical integrity. During that process, some beautiful, long-forgotten features were even uncovered and have once again been incorporated into the look of the church.

The recent work at St. John’s is one of the more interesting local restoration and preservation stories in recent years, and we hope you’ll join us for this educational and entertaining program.

 

April 2016 Meeting – Orange County History Trivia Contest

How Well Do You Know Orange County? 

Back by popular demand, you’re invited to an evening at the Orange County History Trivia Contest!

Members and non-members alike, round up your friends and come as a team (matching t-shirts, hats, or team names always encouraged) or as individuals (and we’ll match you up once you arrive)!

Test your familiarity with Orange County history and challenge others in areas such as geography, literature, food, art, music, politics, sports, personalities, and general knowledge, in varying formats.  Meanwhile, enjoy the banter by our entertaining trivia game hosts!

It’s free to play!  Prizes given to the winning team.   If you’re new to the area or you’ve lived here forever, you’ll have fun, so come on down!  It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people who are interested in Orange County history.

Thursday, April 14, 2016 7:30 p.m.

Trinity Episcopal Church 2400 N. Canal Street Orange, CA  92865

March 2016 Meeting – San Clemente’s Heritage – Speaker: Raad Ghantous

San Clemente Beach Club, 1920s, Image courtesy of Tom Pulley

At the next Orange County Historical Society meeting, San Clemente Historical Society president Raad Ghantous will discuss the history of the “Spanish Village by the Sea” and how heritage tourism can be used to save our historic sites. The meeting will be held March 10, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

San Clemente was founded by former Seattle mayor Ole Hanson in 1925. He required all buildings in town to reflect a Spanish look, with white walls and red tile roofs. This reflected the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture, made popular by the 1915 Panama-California Exposition at San Diego’s Balboa Park. San Clemente became a city in 1928, but the economic pressures of the Great Depression brought an end to Hanson’s architectural edicts.

This sleepy seaside village drew new attention in 1969, when President Richard Nixon bought part of the H. H. Cotton estate as his “Western White House.” Nixon called it “La Casa Pacifica.” He vacationed there, entertained world leaders there, and retired there after his resignation.

Today, San Clemente has over 63,522 residents and its latest major addition is a bluff-top outlet mall, designed in a style that would have made Ole Hanson happy. Some of the town’s historic sites, however, are threatened.

Raad Ghantous is the Principal of the design firm Raad Ghantous & Associates. He has served on the boards of many non-profit groups in Orange County and hosts a live weekly radio show on OCtalkRadio.net. He has served on the board of the San Clemente Historical Society for thirteen years – ever since working as an interior designer to restore Ole Hanson’s home, Casa Romantica, as a cultural and arts center. Since then he has become an important voice both in San Clemente community affairs and in efforts to promote historical preservation throughout the county.

February 2016 Meeting – The Barton Massacre – Speaker: Paul Spitzzeri

The 1857 massacre of Sheriff James Barton and his posse in Irvine by a gang of bandidos ushered in a period of fear, revenge and racial tension unusual even for crime-ridden 1850s Southern California. Historian Paul R. Spitzzeri will discuss this important episode of our Old West history at the Orange County Historical Society’s next meeting: Thurs., Feb. 11, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. The public is welcome to attend.

After escaping from San Quentin, horse thief Juan Flores assembled a ruthless gang and began a crime spree. When the gang raided San Juan Capistrano and killed a shopkeeper, Los Angeles County’s new sheriff, James Barton, assembled a posse to track and arrest the miscreants. Barton and his men finally came face to face with the Flores gang on the spot where the 405 Freeway and the 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) now meet, in Irvine. The ensuing violence, and the turmoil that followed, remain the stuff of legend and debate almost 160 years later.

Paul Spitzzeri is Assistant Director at The Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, a historic site in the City of Industry, where he has worked since 1988. A graduate with a B.A. and M.A. in History from California State University, Fullerton, Spitzzeri has published on Californio citizenship in the 19th century, railroad development and regulation, and women and crime, in journals such as “Journal of the West” and “Southern California Quarterly” and the anthology “Law in the Western United States.”

Paul will share primary source material related to each case to help inform the discussion.