October 2020 General Meeting: Millard Sheets and Home Savings

Author Adam Arenson will discuss Millard Sheets and Home Savings at the Orange County Historical Society’s October 8, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m. online via Zoom.

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation: https://tinyurl.com/OCHSsheets

For more than three decades, Millard Sheets (1907-1989) and his studio of artists designed Home Savings and Loan branches throughout California, studding their iconic projects with mosaics, murals, stained glass, and sculptures that celebrated both family life and the history of the Golden State. The collaboration between the Millard Sheets Studio and Howard Ahmanson (1906-1968), Home Savings’ executive, resulted in more than 40 branches designed and built between the completion of the first collaboration in 1955 and Ahmanson’s death. It set the course for more than 100 additional branches that bore the Home Savings name until the institution was sold to Washington Mutual in 1998.

Combining private investment and public art, and championing historical themes in a period of dramatic cultural and political change, the Home Savings and Loan buildings are signature structures of mid-century modern architecture, and their story deserves to be known before it is too late to save these remarkable works.

Adam Arenson has created a richly illustrated book, Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Modern Design in California (University of Texas Press, 2018), that shines a light on this distinctive style of architecture and art that graced sixty communities throughout Southern California. (To purchase the book at a 30% discount at www.utexaspress.com, OCHS members may use discount code BANK30.)

Arenson is a professor of history and the director of the urban studies program at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY. Born and raised in San Diego, he holds degrees from Harvard and Yale and is the author of two award-winning books and is co-editor of two others. Professor Arenson has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, and he has presented his research on Home Savings and Millard Sheets throughout California, including at Palm Springs Modernism Week. He has been awarded a Certificate of Merit for his book and its preservation advocacy by DOCOMOMO-US, which declared, “Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of ‘every man modernism’ that was largely unknown and under-appreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value.”

September 2020 General Meeting: Junipero Serra in Orange County

Local historian Eric Plunkett will discuss Junipero Serra in Orange County at the Orange County Historical Society’s September 10th, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m. online via Zoom.

 

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation:  https://forms.gle/R297RVp16UWGg6NGA

Franciscan friar Junípero Serra y Ferrer (1713 –1784) led the effort to establish establishing the California Missions. He was a key figure in the development of Alta California and was canonized in 2015 but has become a controversial figure in some circles. Rioters recently tore down statues of Serra in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles. OCHS’ program is not intended to praise or condemn Serra, but simply to explain what he did while he was here.

Eric Plunkett is the leading authority today on Orange County’s Spanish and Mexican Eras. He recently spoke before OCHS on the subjects of Richard Henry Dana’s visit to Dana Point and Hippolyte Bouchard’s raid on San Juan Capistrano. He also co-authored OCHS’ recent book about the Portola Expedition’s trek through what’s now Orange County, and helped lead the Society’s day-long tour following the expeditions’ path.

He is currently nearing completion of a book on the subject of Junipero Serra’s experiences in what is now Orange County. His research has broken new ground, uncovering stories about Serra and early Southern California that had previously been unknown even to dedicated historians.

March 2020 General Meeting: Early Motorcycling in Southern California

“Outdoor Motorcycle Recreation in Pre-World War II California” will be the topic of historian and OCHS member Paul Clark’s presentation at the March 12, 2020 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society.

7:30p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

The public is welcome to this free event.

(Please note that this program replaces a previously planned program on Cinderella Homes, which will likely be rescheduled at a later date.)

Horse power took on new meaning around 1900, with motorized vehicles transforming transport and life throughout California and the world. Motorcycles were part of this movement away from the horse and buggy, leaving many (literally and/or figuratively) in the dust. Southern California’s climate welcomed outdoor sports, and soon motorcycling attracted the interest of newspapers, radio, and eventually motion pictures. Local motorcycling events began to draw tens of thousands of spectators.

Not only were there massive group rides down the coast and races, but also wildly-popular “hill rides” where riders pitted their stamina and engines against gravity. The 1923 Capistrano Hill Ride, for instance, drew 50,000 spectators.

Paul Clark, as a graduate student at CSU Fullerton, co-authored a report in 1978 to the Federal government spanning the wide range of outdoor recreation in the California desert. Since then, he completed his MA in history and has published extensively on recreational history. The recent Brand Book 23 of the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners features Clark’s article focusing on outdoor motorcycle recreation in California from 1900 to 1945.

CANCELED due to covid-19. Portola Hike through O’Neill Park and Lone Hill – In Honor of Phil Brigandi

Join Orange County Historian Eric Plunkett and Trail Guide Paula Dilsaver on a hike exploring several sites along Gaspar Portola’s 1769 expedition in south Orange County. Included will be interpreted talks at Portola’s campsite on the mesa, the former Indian village site of Alauna, and at the top of Lone Hill from where Portola Expedition members could spot San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the flora and fauna of the area.

This particular hike was one that Orange County historian Phil Brigandi had planned to lead this spring; we’ll be conducting it in his honor.

This hike is divided into two parts:

Leg One. This is a gentle hike on a trail that’s partially paved/hard-packed, with little elevation gain in 2.5 hours. It will include two interpretive stops.

Leg Two. Please be advised that this is considered a moderate climb (with a few steep and rough portions) with an elevation gain of 400’ in three-quarters of a mile up to the top of Lone Hill. The total loop is about one and one-half miles and will take about an hour.

It’s not necessary to participate in both legs of the hike. When you register, please indicate if you will be continuing with Leg Two of our hike.

** There are no restrooms on this route. **

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2020

Meet at 8:45 a.m.
Hike leaves at 9:00 a.m.

Additional information (directions, parking meeting location, etc.) will be provided as part of your email confirmation.

To register for this hike, please follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/OCHSportola

Any other questions, please contact hikes@orangecountyhistory.org

 

February 2020 General Meeting: The Assault Trial of Alexander Pantages, 1929-1931

It seems there’s a sensational “trial of the century” about every ten years or so. And from the Overell Trial to O. J. Simpson, Orange County has played a role in a surprising number of these nationally covered legal dramas. Among these is the attack by powerful theater impresario Alexander Pantages on 17-year-old Eunice Pringle of Garden Grove. The stories of Pringle, Pantages, and the famous trial will be the subject of the next Orange County Historical Society meeting. Historian Paul R. Spitzzeri and Pringle’s daughter, Marcy Worthington, will present “The Value of a Girl’s Honor: The Assault Trial of Alexander Pantages, 1929-1931” on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. The event is free and open to the public.

When wealthy entertainment tycoon Alexander Pantages attacked a young dancer at his opulent Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, two criminal trials were held with polar opposite outcomes. Both trials emphasized discussion of the teen’s image and honor. The story has special resonance in this era of Harvey Weinstein and the “Me Too” movement.

Spitzzeri will focus on the story of the assault and trials, and Worthington will talk about her mother’s life before and after the attack. Eunice Pringle’s resilience in the face of relentless public exposure and courtroom grilling from the theater mogul’s attorneys was truly remarkable. She went on to live a full life which lasted almost 70 years beyond the incident.

Paul R. Spitzzeri, who grew up in Orange County, is the director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in City of Industry, California, where he was worked since 1988. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton. He has published extensively on California and regional history, including a biography of the Workman and Temple families which won an award from a national history association. Paul has given presentations to the historical society on several topics in the past, including on Carbon Canyon and the killing of Los Angeles County Sheriff James R. Barton and posse by the Flores-Daniel gang.

Marcy Worthington is the only child of Eunice Pringle-Worthington and Richard Worthington. She is a professional photographer and teaches photography, forensics, and criminal justice at the regional police and sheriff’s academy in San Diego and at a local community college. She has a M.A. in Forensic Science and B.A. in Behavioral Science, with an emphasis in Criminal Justice. Worthington has served as a reserve police officer and is a member of the San Diego Police Chief’s Advisory Board for the Disabled Community. She is writing a book about her mother which “will set the record straight, and show her to be a lady… of great character and intelligence.”

January 2020 General Meeting: Phil Brigandi: The Historian, his Work, and his Legacy

We begin this new year by saying goodbye.

There are no words to accurately sum up the loss of beloved historian and friend, Phil Brigandi, but coming together and sharing mutual memories seems to be the best way to remember him. In response, we have decided to dedicate our January meeting in his honor.

Please join us on January 9, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. (note the special time) as we review Phil Brigandi’s numerous writings of and contributions to understanding the history and cultural landscape of Orange County. A panel of those who knew him and his work will share their insights. Participants include Dr. Arthur Hansen, Mark Hall-Patton, Eric Plunkett, Chris Jepsen, and Stephanie George.

A small reception will follow.

Phil began researching and writing as a 16-year-old growing up in the city of Orange. Focusing on what and who he found interesting, those topics eventually expanded to include Orange County and southern California, and most recently, a foray into the entire Portola Expedition would have included his first publication about a statewide event.
A prolific author, he wrote more than thirty books, countless articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals, and served as editor on multiple publications.

Thursday, January 9, 2020
7:00 p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N. Canal St.
Orange, CA

December 2019 General Meeting: Show and Tell (and Give!!)

It’s time again for the Orange County Historical Society’s popular annual “Show & Tell” program!

Thurs., Dec. 12, 2019
7:30 p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N. Canal St. Orange, CA

This year, in honor of our Centennial, we’re changing things up a little. We’re encouraging you to not only bring and show us a vintage Orange County item or collection, but also to consider donating it to the Society’s archives as part of our new Centennial Collection.

Donations are entirely optional, but we’re hoping you’ll run across some great local historical material that might do more good in a research collection than in your garage or junk drawer.

Whether you donate anything or not, we hope you’ll participate in this fun evening by searching your home or office for a choice artifact or bit of ephemera that tells us something about Orange County’s past. Maybe you have an original brochure for an old housing tract. Or maybe great-grandpa’s branding iron is stored in your attic. Or maybe you have an outstanding photo that hasn’t seen the light of day in many years. Now’s your chance to trot out those curiosities you’ve had stashed away.

There will be a sign-up sheet for speakers when you arrive at the meeting. People will be called up to the podium in order of their position on the list.

We look forward to whatever surprises you may have in store for us!

November 2019 Meeting: Richard Henry Dana and Dana Point

Local historian Eric Plunkett will discuss his research on Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Dana Point’s early use as an anchorage, and the specific South Orange County locations featured in Dana’s book, Two Years Before the Mast, at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society.

Nov. 14, 2019
7:30p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Eric graduated with a degree in history from Cal State University Fullerton in 2008. His article, “Richard Henry Dana at Dana Point,” appeared last year in The Branding Iron, published by the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners.

Eric co-planned OCHS’ day-long Portola tour earlier this year and recently spoke to the Society on the subject of Hippolyte Bouchard’s raid on San Juan Capistrano. His blog, Visions of California, explores “the story of Orange County in the greater context of California history during the Spanish, Mexican and early American eras.” (visionsofcalifornia.blogspot.com)