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

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 ( 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.

April 2015 Meeting – Discovering the History of the Vietnamese in Orange County – Speaker: Dr. Thuy Vo Dang

The Orange County Historical Society will mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the beginnings of our local Vietnamese-American community at their upcoming meeting, April 9, 2015, 7:00 p.m. (program begins at 7:30 p.m.) at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Dr. Thuy Vo Dang, Archivist for the Southeast Asian Archive and Regional History at UCI’s Libraries, will discuss “Black April and the Vietnamese in Orange County.” This program is open to the public at no charge.

When Saigon tragically fell to the communists on April 30, 1975, it marked the end of the long and bloody Vietnam War and sparked a mass exodus by those who valued their lives and their freedom.

Although dispersed throughout the world, many came to central Orange County, where three cities—Westminster, Garden Grove, and Santa Ana— now have “Welcome to Little Saigon” signs. The people here constitute the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. They have created flourishing residential neighborhoods and bustling commercial centers and have transformed the social, cultural, economic, and political life of the region.

Prior to 1975, there were a small number of Vietnamese in the United States, many of whom were international students, war brides or military personnel. But Vietnamese Americans today arrived as refugees and immigrants since the end of the war. Although they were lumped together as “refugees,” they were and are diverse in terms of their class, ethnic, regional, religious, linguistic, and ideological backgrounds. Their migration paths varied, and they often struggled with resettling in a new homeland and rebuilding their lives.

Thuy Vo Dang has a doctorate in ethnic studies from the U.C. San Diego. Before her appointment as archivist, Vo Dang served as the Project Director for the Vietnamese American Oral History Project at UCI. It was during this period that OC Weeklydubbed her “The Studs Terkel of Little Saigon.”

Her book, Vietnamese in Orange County, with co-authors Linda Trinh Vo and Tram Le, was published this year by Arcadia Publishing. Images in this book came from UCI’s archival collections and the authors’ personal collections, as well as from journalists, artists, students, and community leaders.

March 2015 Meeting – The Original Villages of Irvine – Speaker: Ellen Bell

Historian Ellen Bell will discuss “The Original Villages of Irvine, 1960-1980” at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, March 12, 2015, 7:00 p.m. (program begins at 7:30 p.m.) at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. This program is open to the public at no charge.

The City of Irvine did not appear by accident. The modern day metropolis, with more than 200,000 residents, was the result of well-designed Master Plan. Citrus Groves and cattle grazing land became a collection of individual Villages, including the Village of Woodbridge, a model for urban planning nationwide. Ellen Bell will discuss the transition of Irvine, from a 100,000-acre blank slate to California’s 15th largest city.

Ellen is the author of Irvine: Images of America, and is a member of the Irvine Historical Society. She writes about local history for the Orange County Registerand Destination  Her website, OC Day Tripper, is filled with field trip suggestions for exploring Orange County’s historic treasures. Currently, she is producing a series of videos for the City of Irvine, entitled “Hidden Histories.”

January 2015 Meeting – O.C.’s Late Modern Architecture 1970 – 1985 – Speaker: Daniel Paul

Flour Building, Irvine

Architectural historian Daniel Paul will discuss Orange County’s Late Modern architecture at the Jan. 8th, 2015 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. This program is open to the public at no charge.

Los Angeles was largely built out by 1965, but Orange County certainly was not. This fact, combined with a fair amount of county-wide wealth in the 1970s and 1980s, led to a local building boom. Many of the more visible and most innovative commercial buildings of this recent-past era are Late-Modern in design, often clad in smooth grids of all-over reflecting glass. Daniel Paul will explain the early context of the Late-Modern glass skin design system, and present examples of Orange County’s distinctive Late-Modern architecture. The majority of the buildings to be presented date between 1970 and 1985. No longer new, yet not commonly perceived as “historic,” such buildings are perceived as out of vogue. The buildings are therefore particularly vulnerable to insensitive alterations, or even early demolition.

“Some years ago, Daniel took me on a tour of the Late Modern architecture around Irvine and Newport Beach,” said OCHS President Chris Jepsen. “Based on the subject matter, I didn’t start the trek with much excitement. But it turns out this era of architecture is as interesting as any other, and I learned to see these familiar surroundings with new eyes – which is one of my favorite aspects of discovering local history. I was also surprised to learn how much our local architects impacted national trends.”

Village Investments, Irvine

In 2004 Orange County native Daniel Paul earned a Master’s Degree in Art History from California State University, Northridge. His Master’s Thesis was an early attempt to properly contextualize Late-Modern glass skin architecture: a ubiquitous 1970s era corporate design system that he continues to research. Presently Daniel is a senior architectural historian with the global consulting firm of ICF International. Among his projects, Daniel has landmarked a variety of historic properties in Los Angeles including the Capitol Records building and the entirety of Griffith Park. Daniel is the former Acting Director of the folk art environment “Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village,” is the former Vice-Chairperson of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee, and is presently a board member of Docomomo SoCal: the regional chapter of a globally active post-war architecture preservation entity. Over the last 15 years, Daniel has given numerous presentations focused upon recent past architecture. His writings on the topic can be found in Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, and The Architect’s Newspaper.

December 2014 Meeting: Show & Tell! – Thursday December 13th, 7:30 p.m. – Trinity Episcopal Church

It’s time to search your attic, closets and garage for an artifact, photograph or object that helps tell us something about Orange County’s past. The Orange County Historical Society’s popular annual “Show & Tell” program will be held December 11, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

What about great-grandpa’s branding iron, or a piece of flatware with the name of an early local hotel stamped on the back?

Perhaps you have a roof tile from a long-gone adobe, or a radio from Leo Fender’s shop, or a prop from an early Disneyland attraction. Maybe you have a cup from Daniger’s Tearoom, a witch trophy from the 1935 Anaheim Halloween Parade, or a menu from a late lamented Orange County restaurant.

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 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. If we run out of time, we’ll save the list for another meeting, so you’ll still get your chance to share your “piece of history” and a bit of the story behind it.

We can’t wait to see what you bring!

November 2014 Meeting: Author’s Night 2014 – Thursday November 13th, 7:30 p.m. – Trinity Episcopal Church

The Orange County Historical Society’s annual Author’s Night event will be held Thursday, November 13th, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N Canal St., in the City of Orange. Topics this year include Huntington Beach, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, a notable member of the Bixby family, the local impact of the New Deal, and more! After each author speaks briefly about their books, attendees will have an oppurtunity to purchase books, have them signed, and speak with the authors.

Author’s set to appear at OCHS Authors Night 2014 include:

Marcia Lee Harris
Chris Epting
Charles Epting
Zoot Velasco
and Phil Brigandi

This event is open to the public, free, and refreshments will be served.

For more information on this year’s authors, check out this month’s County Courier by
clicking here.