April 2013 Meeting – Program: Saving Orange County, A Preservation Roundup – Speakers: Ilse Byrnes, John Linnert, Jeannie Gillett, Mary Adams Urashima

Furuta Home of Wintersburg Courtesy Chris Jepsen

Learn about grass-roots historical preservation efforts currently underway throughout Orange County at our next meeting on Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Pictured left is the Furuta home of Historic Wintersburg, photographed in 2011 by Chris Jepsen.

Speakers will include Ilse Byrnes (SDG&E Station, San Juan Capistrano), John Linnert (Mariners Medical Arts, Newport Beach), Jeannie Gillett (Old Orchard Conservancy, Santa Ana), and Mary Adams Urashima(Historic Wintersburg, Huntington Beach).

This program will not only shine a light on a variety of important grass-roots campaigns, but will also serve as an unofficial introduction to preservation for those who may wish to attend the 2013 California Preservation Foundation Conference, which will be held in Garden Grove in May.

Isle Byrnes

Ilse Byrnes has worked diligently and successfully to preserve San Juan Capistrano’s historic sites since the early 1970s, when she became involved with the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. She has been instrumental in placing 13 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and is currently working to make the first school site in L.A./O.C. an official California Point of Historical Interest, and to save the threatened 1917 San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) power station north of Downtown.

John Linnert

Architect John Linnert is a third generation City of Orange native and has practiced architecture throughout Orange County for more than 20 years. Recently he has become involved with the preservation efforts for Mariners Medical Arts—an architecturally and culturally significant medical office complex at 1901 Westcliff Dr. in Newport Beach. This complex, designed in 1963 by world-renowned modernist architect Richard Neutra, has been threatened in recent years with demolition and/or terribly incompatible alterations and expansions. Mariners Medical Arts consists of three structures connected by serene gardens and covered walkways.

Jeannie Gillett

Jeannie Gillett, President of The Old Orchard Conservancy will tell us about her group’s efforts to purchase, restore, renovate, and operate for public benefit. She will also share the history of the Sexlinger Home and orange grove at 1584 E. Santa Clara Ave. in Santa Ana. Although the five-acre property is on the city’s Register of Historical Properties, the current owners plan to demolish the Craftsman-style farmhouse and 230 Valencia orange trees for new development. Gillett, a certified pediatric nurse at CHOC, is an Associate Board Member of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.

Mary Adams Urashima

Mary Adams Urashima, author of HistoricWintersburg.blogspot.com, researches oral histories, old newspapers and documents to find and share stories relating to Historic Wintersburg, now threatened with a zone change and demolition by the current landowners. As the most prominent figure driving preservation efforts for the historic community, she will provide us with an update on the current status of the situation, as well as a brief overview of the site’s history. Wintersburg came to greater public attention two years ago after OCHS held a panel discussion on the fate of the remains of the historically significant Japanese-American community (now part of north Huntington Beach). Still standing on the five-acre property is the original barn and 1912 bungalow of Charles Mitsuji and Yukiko Furuta—a rare, Japanese-owned property, purchased before California’s Alien Land Law of 1913; the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (founded 1904, constructed 1910)—the oldest Japanese church in Southern California; the 1910 manse (clergy home), and the Depression-era 1934 Church.

March 2013 Meeting – Program: “Orange County—Cooler Than It Knew How to Be” Rock, Folk, and Popular Music in Orange County – Speaker: Jim Washburn

The Golden Bear

Come learn about popular music groups and artists who got their start in Orange County, and the clubs and venues (like the Golden Bear—pictured left; click image to view it larger—and the Prison of Socrates) that helped launch them. OCHS will present “Orange County: Cooler Than It Knew How To Be,” on Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Jim Washburn

Longtime O.C. journalist and cub historian Jim Washburn will look at O.C.’s musical past to explain how, “despite prevailing perceptions, culture wasn’t hurtin’ behind the Orange Curtain.”

For more than 30 years, Jim has written about music and popular culture in the O.C. Register, the L.A. Times, the OC Weekly and other publications, as well as curating several exhibits about same at the Fullerton Museum Center.

February 2013 Meeting – Program: Huell Howser in Orange County, A Valentine to California – Panel: Rand Boyd, Phil Brigandi, Linda Jennings, Stephen M. Rios, Cynthia Ward

Huell Howser and Madame Modjeska, Anaheim

Our monthly program, a tribute to the late Huell Howser, will be delivered on Thursday, February 14, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. (Photo at left from the Anaheim Historical Society Flickr site shows Huell Howser posing with the statue of Madame Modjeska at Pearson Park in Anaheim. Click the image to view this page at Flickr.)

This event will feature a panel of local historians who will share experiences of giving the enthusiastic public television host a tour of their community in a “California’s Gold” episode: Cynthia Ward (Anaheim), Phil Brigandi (Orange), Linda Jennings (Tustin), and Stephen M. Rios (San Juan Capistrano). Also included in the panel will be Rand Boyd, Special Collections & Archives Librarian at Chapman University’s Leatherby Library, where Huell donated his notes and digitized collection of “California’s Gold” episodes filmed between 1991 and 2001.

On this special evening, we’ll not only find out what the personable show host was like off camera, but we’ll also view never-before-seen footage of Huell in Orange County, and perhaps revisit a few “golden” moments from local episodes we watched on t.v. years ago.

Among the places explored in the “California’s Gold” series were: Tustin, San Juan Capistrano (twice), Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Orange, Anaheim, Madame Modjeska’s home in Modjeska Canyon, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, the Irvine Ranch Land Conservancy, and the Starr Ranch Conservancy in southeastern Orange County.

So join us on Valentine’s Day, on a trip back in time to remember Huell and his contributions to our own history, and to revisit places in Orange County that will always be a part of “California’s Gold.”

January 2013 Meeting – Program: Yorba Linda Native Richard Nixon, A Century in Perspective – Speaker: The Reverend Canon John H. Taylor

Join us the day after Richard M. Nixon’s 100th birthday for a thoughtful discussion of his life and legacy by The Reverend Canon John H. Taylor. The program will be held Thursday, January 10, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Richard 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 menu items are still marked at Mexican restaurants like El Adobe in San Juan Capistrano and Olamendi’s in Capistrano Beach. Surfers still point out Nixon’s “Western White House” in San Clemente. And of course, the Nixon Library and Birthplace is the primary place where researchers and the general public come to better understand the 37th President of the United States. Although he moved back East in 1980, Nixon’s imprint on Orange County is everywhere. (Pictured above is a recent photo of the Nixon Library and Museum taken by Chris Jepsen; click the image to view it larger.)

Our guest speaker John Taylor joined the staff of former President Richard M. Nixon in 1979, becoming his chief of staff in 1984. He traveled with Nixon to the Soviet Union, China, and many other countries, helped with six of his books, and assisted in planning the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. Named the library’s director in 1990, Taylor oversaw President and Mrs. Nixon’s funerals in 1994 and 1993. As co-executor of Mr. Nixon’s estate, he helped pave the way for the opening of the Nixon White House tapes and other historical materials. And in 2007, he coordinated the library’s entry into the federal government’s system of presidential libraries.

Taylor received his Master of Divinity degree in 2003 from the Claremont School of Theology. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2003 and to the priesthood in 2004, and is now the full-time vicar of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita. For the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, he currently serves on the Commission on Ministry, Commission on the Middle East, and Committee on Constitution and Canons. He is chair of the Committee on Resolutions.

Christmas with Nixon

December 2012 Meeting Program – Show & Tell Night – Speaker: You!

Courtesy Chris Jepsen

Time to start going through your garage or attic to get ready for “Show & Tell” night on Thursday, December 13, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

This is the third time this popular and crowd-pleasing event is being hosted, but each one is unique since attendees share historical artifacts, heirlooms, and memorabilia from their personal collection with members of the Society and other guests.

At the last event, Phil Brigandi brought a mysterious knife from his family collection, seeking to find out more about its history. (See Chris Jepsen’s write up about this event and Phil’s knife at http://ochistorical.blogspot.com/2012/01/mysterious-knife-and-some-local-history.html.)

What will we uncover at this month’s meeting? Perhaps a tool used for picking oranges or avocados? Or a name badge from your employment at Disneyland that you wore on opening day. Maybe your great-grandfather’s branding iron? Or an outstanding photo of Orange County that few have seen before.

A sign up sheet will be posted at the front door, and those who brought an item to share will be called forth—in the order on this list—to share their item.

Whatever the night will bring, we look forward to the surprises in store for us!

November 2012 Meeting Program – Authors’ Night and Orange Countiana – Speakers: Jason Schultz, Mike Heywood, Ted Dougherty, Chris Epting, Frank Ritenour, Phil Brigandi, John M.W. Moorlach, Froy Tiscareño

Authors Night, Autumn 2012 Photo by Daralee Ota

Hear authors of the latest Orange County history books discuss their work, and then have a chance to meet them, buy their books, and have them signed at OCHS’ annual “Authors’ Night” program on Thursday, November 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. This event will also mark the release of Orange Countiana, Vol. 8—this year’s OCHS historical journal. Contributors to the journal will also be on hand to sign copies. (A copy of the journal comes with OCHS membership, but additional copies will be available for purchase.) Between books and journals, this will be a great opportunity to do some holiday shopping—for others or for yourself. The event is open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Some of the authors and books you can expect to find at this event:

Jason Schultz – Disneyland Almanac. Schultz, archivist at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and former Disneyland cast member, will discuss this third book on the unique daily history of Disneyland, co-authored with MiceAge columnist Kevin Yee.

Mike Heywood – Orange County: Twelve Decades of Extraordinary Change. Heywood is a historian for the Huntington Beach Coordinating Council which supports service groups in the community and retired insurance executive. His second book provides his view of O.C. from 1889 to 2010.

Ted Dougherty – Knott’s Halloween Haunt: A Picture History. Dougherty’s book, which arrives in time for Halloween Haunt’s 40th Anniversary, features images and anecdotes about this annual event which has grown into an enormous 5-week juggernaut emulated by other theme parks around the world. The author also operates UltimateHaunt.com online.

Chris Epting – Baseball in Orange County. No stranger to our Authors’ Night events, Epting’s latest book explores America’s favorite pastime as it was played in Orange County. A noted pop-culture historian and a frequent collaborator with Arcadia Publishing, we’re curious to see what he’s written about one of his great passions: baseball.

Frank Ritenour – San Juan Capistrano Treasures. Ritenour and his wife Marlene run Ritenour’s Photography in San Clemente, and are award winning photographers with more than 25 years of professional experience. The author will bring copies of several of his books with photographs documenting past and present views of Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano.

Phil Brigandi – Orange Countiana Volume VIII. Brigandi, our intrepid editor, will be presenting OCHS’ latest historical journal, along with perhaps two of the contributors to this edition who are both members of the Society:

John M.W. Moorlach, C.P.A., contributed a first-hand account of “The Orange County Bankruptcy” to our journal. Moorlach has served as Supervisor for Orange County’s 2nd District since 2006, and was appointed Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector following the resignation of Robert Citron in the wake of the county bankruptcy. A former member of the Board of Directors of the Costa Mesa Historical Society, he also served as Vice Chairman of the California State Sesquicentennial Foundation.

Froy Tiscareño, author of several books, contributed an article about his memories of colorful Orange County figure and historian William McPherson as well as tales of his Mexican-American family’s life in Orange County during the first half of the 20th Century. Tiscareño, who taught mathematics at Mt. San Antonio College for 27 years and currently teaches at Irvine Valley College, came to O.C. from Mexico in 1949, settling in the little town of McPherson, near El Modena.

Autumn 2012 History Hike – Arroyo Trabuco and Trabuco Adobe – Guide: Phil Brigandi

Trabuco Adobe
Courtesy Santa Ana Public Library

Join us on Saturday, November 3, 2012 for a trip along the Arroyo Trabuco to visit the ruins of the Trabuco Adobe, a mission outpost and later rancho headquarters. Historian Phil Brigandi will discuss the history of the adobe and the arroyo along the way. The 1-1/2 to 2 hour hike begins at 8:30 a.m.

This is about a two-mile roundtrip, moderately easy hike, but with one steep grade in and out of Trabuco Creek.

Where: Meet at the Arroyo Vista Trailhead, O’Neill Regional Park, Arroyo Vista and Paraiso in Rancho Santa Margarita. Parking is available on the street.

Reservations are a MUST. Additional information about the hike will be provided as part of your confirmation.

Memorial for Jim Sleeper – Friday, October 12, 2012, noon – Waverly Chapel at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana

A memorial service for Orange County’s premier historian, Jim Sleeper, at noon, Friday, October 12, 2012 at Waverly Chapel at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana. Jim passed away on September 27, 2012. Either directly or indirectly, he impacted everyone who cares about Orange County’s history. We hope to see you at his memorial service, which will be open to the public.

More than just the author of at least eight of our best history books and hundreds upon hundreds of well-researched and startlingly well-written articles, Jim was also a hero and a friend to many.

Jim was active in the Orange County Historical Society for more than 70 years. In 1970, he served as our president. He was also the co-founder of our County Courier newsletter, and was still on the Editorial Board of our Orange Countiana historical journal at the time of his death. He will be greatly missed.

For more information see “Jim Sleeper, Orange County Historian, 1927-2012.”

October 2012 Meeting Program – Anaheim Halloween Festival, “The Greatest Night Pageant West of the Mardi Gras” – Speaker: Stephanie George

Courtesy Anaheim Public Library

Stephanie George will speak on Anaheim’s Halloween Festival at the Orange County Historical Society’s next meeting, Thursday, October 11, 2012, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Once called the biggest Halloween celebration west of the Mississippi, the Anaheim Halloween Festival began in 1924 and grew to capacity crowds in the late 1950s, with estimates of more than 150,000 people traveling from all over the Southland to attend this city’s celebration. These days, the Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween Parade bears only a slight resemblance to its predecessor, but rest assured, this month’s presentation will conjure up the sprites, hobgoblins, and broom-tooting witches of the past. We promise, you’ll be spellbound in discovering the Festival’s disputed origins, bewitched by the Slick Chicks, and howling after learning who was behind the ousting of the Steve Allen, the 1970 parade’s grand marshal. Eek! Finally, the unexplained will be explained as we explore this city’s long tradition of Spooktacular!

Stephanie George, an Anaheim native, is the archivist at the Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton, as well as the recording secretary for the Orange County Historical Society, president of the California Council for the Promotion of History —and second place costume contest winner at the 1962 Anaheim Halloween Festival Pancake Breakfast.

Member Year 2012-13 Kick-Off Meeting Program – California Style Watercolor Painting in Orange County – Speaker: Gordon T. McClelland

Gordon McClelland at OCHS meeting Photo by Daralee Ota

Orange County’s role in California Style watercolor painting will be the subject of the Orange County Historical Society’s season kick-off program on Thursday, September 13, 2012, at Sherman Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. If you’d like to participate in the Society’s appetizer and dessert potluck beforehand, arrive at 6:30 p.m. with a plateful of goodies. Otherwise, arrive in time for the 7:30 lecture by author, historian, exhibition curator and art dealer Gordon T. McClelland.

From the 1930s through the 1970s, an innovative approach to watercolor painting called the California Style, flourished in Southern California. Artists like Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, and Emil Kosa, Jr. were considered part of the American Scene or Regionalist movement and often painted scenes of everyday city and suburban life. Their work featured bold design, creative use of the white paper as a “color,” and highlighted the transparency of their unique medium. One of the key schools that taught this approach to creating art was the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting in Corona del Mar.

The presentation will feature outstanding examples of California watercolors inspired by scenes in Orange County, with an emphasis on works painted in and around Newport Beach. McClelland will also address the historical and artistic importance of these works both locally and nationally.