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.

January 2016 Meeting – Tracts, Ranch Houses, and Mid Century O.C. – Speaker: Alan Hess

New Central Orange County Housing Tract circa 1964

Architect and historian Alan Hess will present a program about “Tracts, Ranch Houses and Mid-Century Orange County” at the Jan. 14, 2016 meeting of Orange County Historical Society. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. The public is welcome to attend.

Orange County in the mid-twentieth century served as a laboratory for new kinds of architecture that suited the new lifestyles, technology, and innovative urban character of America as the population shifted from decaying center cities to suburbia. This program will investigate some of those innovations, including mass produced tract housing, the Ranch House as the most popular housing type in the nation, and master planned communities which sought to perfect the suburban metropolis. Far from being a bland landscape, Orange County led the United States in innovation.

Alan Hess is the author of nineteen books on Modern architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century. His subjects include John Lautner, Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Ranch House, Googie architecture, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs. He is the architecture critic of the San Jose Mercury News, a contributor to The Architects Newspaper, grant recipient from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow. He’s received several awards, including the Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for qualifying the oldest remaining McDonald’s for the National Register of Historic Places, and the President’s Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy for three decades of work in preserving Modern architecture. He is currently writing a history of Modern Architecture in California.

December 2015 Meeting – Show & Tell

From Show & Tell 2014

YOU are our program YOU are our program this December! Rummage through your scrapbooks, closets or garage for an interesting artifact that helps tell us something about Orange County’s past. The Orange County Historical Society’s annual “Show & Tell” program will be held December 10, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Maybe you have a tool that was used in picking oranges or avocados. Perhaps you have your name badge from when you worked at Disneyland on opening day. What about great-grandfather’s branding iron, or a tourist tchotchke with a picture of the Old Courthouse on it? Or maybe you just have an outstanding photo of early Orange County that few have seen before. Whatever vintage Orange County curio you may have tucked away, now’s your chance to trot it out, show it off, and briefly tell us something about it. There will be a sign-up sheet when you arrive at the meeting. People will be called up in order of their position on the list.

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

November 2015 Meeting – Visiting Orange County’s Past – Speaker: Phil Brigandi

Phil Brigandi at the San Juan Hot Springs

Become your own local history tour guide. Author and historian Phil Brigandi will discuss his latest, book, Visiting Orange County’s Past, at the Nov. 12, 2015 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The program will begin at 7:30p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange, and is free to the public.

In 1984, the Orange County Historical Commission published Visiting Orange County’s Past, a guide to our local historical sites and landmarks.

Thirty years later the Commission asked Brigandi to update the listings in honor of Orange County’s 125th Anniversary. The result was an almost entirely new book, published earlier this year.

Become your own local history tour guide. Author and historian Phil Brigandi will discuss his latest, book, Visiting Orange County’s Past, at the Nov. 12, 2015 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The program will begin at 7:30p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange, and is free to the public.

In 1984, the Orange County Historical Commission published Visiting Orange County’s Past, a guide to our local historical sites and landmarks.

Thirty years later the Commission asked Brigandi to update the listings in honor of Orange County’s 125th Anniversary. The result was an almost entirely new book, published earlier this year.

October 2015 Meeting – Knott’s Scary Farm: The Creation of a Monster – Speakers: Ted Dougherty & J. Eric Lynxwiler

Join the Orange County Historical Society and authors Ted Dougherty and Eric Lynxwiler for some Halloween fun and holiday history on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Halloween is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet long before costume-shop chains and Halloween stores cropped up every October, the Halloween season was far more innocent and simple. Many remember when the season entailed trick-or-treating in home-made costumes among a few illuminated porch decorations. That all changed in the 1970s when Halloween’s popularity began to explode. One of the pioneers of the now-global Halloween industry was Orange County’s own Knott’s Berry Farm. Take a trip back in time with authors and historians, Ted Dougherty and Eric Lynxwiler as they share how the family-friendly Knott’s Berry Farm theme park was at the forefront in creating a spooky form of entertainment that has been emulated at theme parks around the world.

Ted Dougherty is a historian and author of the award-winning book, Knott’s Halloween Haunt: A Picture History. In addition to scaring thousands of guests for ten seasons as a “werewolf” at Knott’s, Ted has also consulted, provided historical tours and trained characters for the longest running Halloween theme park in the world, Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt. Due to his expertise of things that go bump in the night, Ted has worked as an Associate Producer for the documentary, Season of Screams, and featured in numerous media outlets, including Newsweek, the History Channel and CNN.

Urban anthropologist J. Eric Lynxwiler is the co-author of Knott’s Preserved:  From Boysenberry to Theme ParkThe History of Knott’s Berry Farm, and Wilshire Boulevard:  Grand Concourse of Los Angeles.  Neon enthusiasts may know Eric as the affable host of the Museum of Neon Art’s Neon Cruise. Downtown L.A. preservationists know him as an L.A. Conservancy docent for the Broadway Theater district.  While attending UCLA, he spent one school year behind the counter of Knott’s shooting gallery and, more recently, worked as theme park’s graphic designer on signage, brochures, and its new series of Berry-Market-labeled preserves.

September 2015 Meeting – The Orange and the Dream of California – Speaker: David Boulé

David Boulé

Author David Boulé will speak on “The Orange and the Dream of California” at the Orange County Historical Society’s season kick-off program, Sept. 10, 2015, at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. 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.

In his presentation, Boulé will explore the five hundred year, intertwined history of the orange and California and how these two iconic entities have built upon one another to feed the imagination and conjure both a compelling fantasy and a remarkable reality.

 “The image of California as paradise and the orange as unique among all fruit has endured for centuries because, partially, these things are true,” Boulé writes. “These truths, recognized by chroniclers, journalists, scientists, growers and other objective observers, have then been magnified by poets and boosters, artists and hucksters, songwriters and bureaucrats – with both artistic and commercial motivation – to appeal to people’s continuing desire to believe that such exceptional perfection can really exist.”

A third generation Californian, Boulé has a lifelong fascination with the history, culture, achievements and uniqueness of the region. For decades he has scoured paper ephemera shows, flea markets, antique stores, the Internet, libraries, museums and bookshops to collect items and information relating to the California citrus industry.  A career in marketing communication has given him particular interest and insight into how the orange helped enhance the popular image of California as a place of potential, reinvention and fulfillment.

Explaining how collections and research like his can fill in gaps left in more general, academic approaches, Boulé adds, “I believe an individual zeal and a personal focus can help not only gather materials that might otherwise be dispersed and kept out of context, but add depth and texture to more traditional research approaches.”

David’s collection includes historic photographs, hundreds of postcards, rare advertising and marketing materials, books, phonograph records, posters, journals and personal papers, newspapers and press clippings, and many California orange-themed souvenirs and promotional items.  His collection has been featured in exhibits, he has given numerous presentations. His book, The Orange and Dream of California, was published in 2014 by Angel City Press and will be available for sale at the event.

June 2015 Meeting – The One-Eyed Captain, Free Love, Free Pie & the Founding of Orange County – Speaker: Manny Escamilla

One might well wonder what to expect from an event called, “The One Eyed Captain, Free Love, Free Pie, and the Founding of Orange County.” Attend the Orange County Historical Society’s program at the Heritage Museum of Orange County on June 12, 2015 to find out! OCHS members may attend at no cost. Non-members are $5 at the door. Either way, please RSVP by June 8 to OrangeCountyHistory@gmail.com.

On second thought, it might not hurt to tell you a few more event details,…

Historian and archivist Manny Escamilla of Santa Ana Public Library will speak on the subject of Orange County’s first Superior Court judge, J. W. Towner. The eccentric Captain Towner lost an eye in the Civil War, was a socialist, and belonged to not one but two free love religious communes over the course of his life, including the Oneida Community – famous for its silverware manufacturing.

The evening will also include tours of the historic H. Clay Kellogg House (1898) and Maag House (1899). And silhouette artist Steve Thompson (peoplepapercuts.com) will be on hand to render your portrait in a manner befitting the Victorian theme.

The evening will conclude with pie and cold beverages for all.

The Heritage Museum of Orange County, located at 3101 W. Harvard St., in Santa Ana, is a cultural and natural history center and has been a popular school field trip destination for over 25 years. The centerpiece of the museum, which covers nearly 12 acres in all, is a plaza featuring several historic buildings set amid extensive floral gardens and citrus groves.

Our speaker, Manny Escamilla, is archivist at the Santa Ana History Room at Santa Ana Public Library.  Raised in Santa Ana, he’s always been fascinated by the history of Orange County, and has been successful in his coordination of the Teen History Program, of which many of its members have competed in National History Day, conducted oral histories, and helped digitize local historical material.  He received a BA in history in 2008 from UC Berkeley and, of this writing, is finishing the Archival Studies program at UCLA.

Tours will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7: 30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

May 2015 Meeting – The New Deal In Orange County – Speaker: Charles Epting

Huntington Beach Pavilion
Photo courtesy of the OC Archives

Charles Epting will discuss “WPA/PWA Architecture and Art in Orange County ” at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, May 14, 2015, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

During the Great Depression, Southern California’s economic woes were compounded by local natural disasters. The 1933 Long Beach earthquake claimed 115 lives. The1938 Santa Ana River flood claimed more than 50 more and also washed out roads and buildings and caused enormous damage to the important citrus industry. And in 1939 our coast was ravaged by a chubasco (violent tropical storm).

Throughout this era, disaster relief and federal “make-work” programs helped transform the local landscape. Orange County’s 130,000 people received a greater density of federal public aid than Los Angeles County’s 2.2 million and San DiegoCounty’s 210,000. Join Charles Epting on this tour of the buildings, bridges, harbors, trails, libraries, highways and other infrastructure gains—many still in use—that were revitalized by the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administraion, Civilian Conservation Corps and other agencies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Charles Epting is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, with a history degree specializing in the early 20th century United States. He is the author of four books as well as various newspaper and magazine articles. He is a research associate for U.C. Berkeley’s Living New Deal program and an American Philatelic Society fellow.

His second book, The New Deal In Orange County, was published in 2014 and focuses on the federal government’s aid to the county during the Great Depression. By chronicling every school and park, post office and government building, Epting shines a light on an important period in Orange County’s history while at the same time explaining the effects of President Roosevelt’s New Deal on both a local and national scale.