February 2014 Meeting – Program: History of Carbon Canyon – Speaker: Paul Spitzzeri

Old Carbon Canyon post card

Paul Spitzzeri will give a lecture about Carbon Canyon on Thursday, February 13, 2014, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Tucked in the northeastern corner of Orange County, Carbon Canyon is mostly known as a commuter alternative to the busy 91 and 60 freeways to and from the Inland Empire. The canyon and its surrounding areas, however, have a varied and interesting history, dealing with oil development, mineral hot springs, concrete outdoor ski slopes, hippie hangouts, hit jobs, and much more.

While the canyon was certainly a place for native peoples to gather plant material, hunt for game, and serve as a trading spot between coastal and inland regions, little is known about how the area was actually used over time. During the Spanish and Mexican eras, neighboring rancheros used Carbon Canyon as part of the common public land set aside for grazing and watering of cattle.

Map showing Olinda/Carbon Canyon area

In the late 1880s, William H. Bailey bought land outside the canyon’s mouth and named his domain “Olinda Ranch,” after his family’s Hawaiian pineapple plantation. Several years later, Edward Doheny, developer of the famed Los Angeles oil field, brought in a still-operating well that inaugurated Orange County’s oil industry.

Oil workers, it is said, used the natural hot springs in the canyon for pain relief, and by the 1910s the La Vida Mineral Springs resort was opened. For nearly a half-century, the Miller family operated La Vida’s baths, pools, motel, and café, and its water was bottled and sold widely. After most of the facilities closed, the La Vida Roadhouse continued operation until the early 2000s. Little remains of the original site to date, except a water tower with the faded “La Vida” logo still emblazoned on it.

Paul Spitzzeri

In recent years, sub-urbanization has crept into the canyon and has transformed it. Wildfires, traffic and other concerns remain ongoing issues as the area faces an uncertain future in this century.

Our guest speaker is the Assistant Director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, California, where he has worked since 1988. He received his B.A. and M.A. in History from California State University, Fullerton and has published pieces on local, regional and state history in many journals and anthologies. His book, The Workman and Temple Families of Southern California, won the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 2009. A resident of Sleepy Hollow in Chino Hills within Carbon Canyon, Paul has blogged extensively on the history of the canyon on carboncanyonchronicle.blogspot.com.

January 2014 Meeting – Program: History of the Santa Ana Fire Department – Speaker: Roberta Reed

Restored 1926 fire engine in front of SA Fire Museum. Photo courtesy Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society

Guest speaker Roberta Reed will lecture on the history of the Santa Ana Fire Department on Thursday, January 9, 2014, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Founded in 1883, SAFD’s first fire house was built on the west side of Sycamore Street, between Third and Fourth Streets. By 1970, SAFD included 200 members and nine stations. The fire department was disbanded by the City of Santa Ana on April 20, 2012 due to budget constraints, and fire services were contracted with the Orange County Fire Authority.

Roberta has had a connection to SAFD from her early years, with Santa Ana Station 5 being the station where her father spent a good part of his career. A long-time treasurer of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, she was instrumental in negotiating the agreement between the City and Orange County Fire Authority to transfer the Santa Ana Fire Museum to SAHPS and continue to house it in Station 5. In May 2013, a signed license agreement between SAHPS and OCFA allowed the Museum to operate in OCFA Station 75. A grand opening for the Museum was held on Saturday, August 24, 2013, and the public was invited to view its extensive collection of artifacts from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Born in St. Joseph Hospital and raised in Santa Ana, Roberta is an Environmental, Health and Safety manager at 3M where she has been employed for the past 15 years. Her deep involvement in the history of Santa Ana is evidenced in her numerous “outside” efforts. Author of Arcadia Publishing’s Santa Ana: 1940-2007 (Images of America: California), Roberta organized the City’s first walking tours; chaired numerous home and garden tours, and cemetery tours for SAHPS, and was involved in the grassroots effort to save the Howe-Waffle House during the Orange County bankruptcy.

Roberta celebrates her 23rd wedding anniversary with husband Nathan in the week she delivers her program to OCHS. The family’s home includes canines Max, Cliff and Samson; a collection of glassware from the Depression era up to the 1960s; antique furniture; Santa Ana memorabilia, and fire-related items.

December 2013 Meeting – Program: Show & Tell Night – Speaker: You!

“Show & Tell” night returns to OCHS on Thursday, December 12, 2013, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

We welcome you to bring in any artifact, memorabilium, or item pertaining to Orange County history you wish to share or further explore with us. 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. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a variety of aspects about our county’s history from each other. So bring it on!

Follow up note: Presenters at this year’s event included: Chris Jepsen, Gordon McClelland, Josh McIntosh, Leo M. Castro, Ed Murashie, Dick Pierce, Barbara McIntosh, Harriet Friis, Naomi Estrine, Denny Hayden, Bobbie Prentice, Sandy Currie, Eldon Gath, Emmett Raitt, Edward Velasquez, Clay Rickerl, and Phil Brigandi.

Below is a photo taken at this event. Click here to go to the slideshow created from photos taken at this event. (This slideshow may take awhile to load in your browser, depending on the speed of your connection to the Internet.)

OCHS president Chris Jepsen at Show & Tell Night 2013

November 2013 Meeting – Program: Authors’ Night and Orange Countiana IX

Orange Countiana, Volume IX

Join us on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. when Authors’ Night returns with new authors and books pertaining to Orange County history topics. Orange Countiana IX, the latest volume of our annual publication, will also be unveiled, with copies to be distributed to members in good standing. The program will be held at our general meeting site, Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Pioneer Ranch Life in Orange: A Victorian Woman in Southern California

The story of Mary Teegarden Clark will be presented by Paul F. Clark, great-grandson of the subject. This memoir centers itself in the Southern California community of Orange through the years 1875 to 1887. Mary Teegarden Clark speaks about crossing the continent by train with a child and participating in the ground breaking of a new orange orchard named the “Yale Grove” by her husband, Albert B. Clark. The author graduated with degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton.

Naughty Newport: Judge Robert Gardner

In the wild, new sequel to Bawdy Balboa, author Gordy Grundy takes us on a jaunty romp through the early years of Newport Beach, California, featuring crusaders and con men, surfers and sots. Judge Robert Gardner is well known for his pragmatic justice, body surfing and witty articles in national magazines and local newspapers. The author, an artist, writer and member of the well-known Grundy family of Newport Beach, has served as editor and point-man for the publishing of this posthumous tome by Orange County history buff, Judge Robert Gardner.

Santa Ana Mountains: History, Habitat & Hikes

Author Patrick Mitchell has compiled the first comprehensive volume of the natural and cultural histories of the Santa Anas, home to Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, vaqueros, sheep barons, bandits and suburban developers. This book tells how these mountains were traversed by mountain man Jedediah Smith, explorer John C.Fremont, lawman Wyatt Earp and other historic figures. The author has also written Santa Ana River Guide: From Crest to Coastand has been a museum natural history director, ranch manager, resort landscapes director, park naturalist, herb farmer and field ecologist.

Images of Baseball: Mexican-American Baseball in O.C.

Richard A. SantillanSusan C. Luevano, and Luis F. Fernandez‘s book celebrates the once-vibrant culture of baseball and softball teams from Placentia, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Westminster, San Juan Capistrano, and nearby towns. Baseball allowed men and women to showcase their athletic and leadership skills, engaged family members, and enabled community members to develop social and political networks. Author Richard A. Santillán, professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, specializes in Mexican American history. Co-author Susan C. Luévano is librarian at California State University, Long Beach, and co-author Luis F. Fernández is a public historian. This book is made possible due to the many photographs donated by community members.

A Brief History of Los Alamitos & Rossmoor

Author Larry Strawther traces the histories of the interdependent sister communities of Los Alamitos and Rossmoor, which epitomize the reality in the legend of the Orange County lifestyle. Los Alamitos evolved from cattle ranches and sugar beet factory town to a World War II military town, and ultimately residential neighborhoods, while the planned “walled ‘city’ of Rossmoor” was created between 1955 and 1961. Despite annexation talk, Rossmoor and “Los Al” co-exist apart together, so to speak, on Long Beach’s outskirts. The author has been writing professionally since high school—for newspapers, musical comedy groups, television, movies, and local history articles.

October 2013 Meeting – Program: “Last of the Wild West”—Los Alamitos Lawman Gunned Down, Forgotten – Speaker: Phil Brigandi

Los Alamitos’ main street with the “Old West” look in 1910
Orange County Historical Society

Join us on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. as our guest speaker, local historian and author, Phil Brigandi, uncovers lost history about the final days of the Old West as evidenced in Los Alamitos in 1907. The program will be held at our general meeting site, Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Our engaging guest speaker will tell us the true tale of Deputy Juan Orosco who was the first law enforcement officer gunned down in the line of duty in the final years of Orange County’s “wild and wooly” pioneer era when bandits, horse thieves, saloons, and shoot-outs were as much a part of our towns as any other place out West.

Brigandi, an avid researcher who has penned more than 20 books about local history, tells us he uncovered these facts about Orosco a couple of years ago and then realized the story was forgotten in time because there are no longer “constables… or any successor agency to keep a list of their own fallen officers.”

Phil Brigandi

This will be the first time Brigandi has delivered this presentation. The program is open to the public.

Follow up note: Phil Brigandi is still researching the mystery of Deputy Juan Orosco’s life and death. If you have any photos or information about him, please contact Phil at orangecountiana@orangecountyhistory.org.

Member Year 2013-14 Kick-Off Meeting – Program: Dana Point Harbor – Speaker: Alan Hess

Dana Point Harbor on its dedication day, July 31, 1971
Courtesy Orange County Archives

Architect and historian Alan Hess will discuss Dana Point Harbor’s architectural design and development at the Orange County Historical Society’s season kick-off meeting on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at the Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an optional appetizer and dessert potluck, followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. (Everyone participating in the potluck is asked to bring a dessert or appetizer for six people.)

Dana Point Harbor is one of the most successful mid-century master-planned developments on the West Coast. Alan Hess will speak on “why it is such an important example of 1970s architecture, how it captures a unique time in Orange County history, and why its integrity is worth preserving.”

Hess is the architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News and a contributor to The Architect’s Newspaper. He has written nineteen books on Modern architecture and Urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, the most recent one being Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture. Hess was a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow at Columbia University and has a M.Arch degree from the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, UCLA.

Alan Hess

This program will be followed with a related lecture and a self-guided tour of Dana Point Harbor on Saturday, October 5th, sponsored by Docomomo Socal.

Related topic: Read Alan Hess’ article about Dana Point Harbor: 
“The Beauty of Authenticity”
 from Orange Coast Magazine.

May 2013 Meeting – Program: Clara Mason Fox, O.C. Pioneer – Speaker: Lorraine Passero

Clara Mason Fox

Lorraine Passero, author of Clara Mason Fox: Pioneer, Painter, and Poet of Orange County, will present the story of the O.C. pioneer on Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

More than 50 years after Clara’s death, a box found in an attic helped to piece together the narrative of this remarkable woman. Clara’s story, expressed through her art, poetry, and writings tells us that the Mason family left Illinois in the 1880s and were among the first settlers of Silverado Canyon. A true pioneer of her era, Clara served as perhaps the first schoolteacher in the canyon, and became an early Laguna Beach artist. She eventually travelled alone to New York City to study art at Cooper Union. After marrying local rancher George Fox and moving to El Toro, Clara was the first to write a book chronicling the history of that town.

Lorraine Passero’s book offers readers insights about Orange County’s homesteading days, life during turn-of-the-century New York City, and a young woman’s personal challenges. Excerpts from Clara’s letters and poetry, as well as her art, give us insight into her talents and observations of life.

In 2010, a serendipitous discovery of more than 150 of Clara’s botanical watercolors—some dating back to 1894—were discovered in cabinets filled with plant specimens at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California. These watercolors are currently part of the exhibit “When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage” (March 9 – July 8) in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery at the Huntington Library in San Marino. The exhibit also includes work by other artists, including Alice Brown Chittenden (1859–1944), Ethel Wickes (1872–1940), and Milford Zornes (1908–2008).

A native of New York City, Lorraine Passero earned her elementary education degree at Long Island University. While attending San Diego State University she met her future husband, Jon Seeman, a sculptor and a great-great nephew of Clara Mason Fox. Lorraine received a master’s degree at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles. During the course of her teaching career, Lorraine was the recipient of numerous awards including the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund and The New York Historical Society National Teachers Institute Award. The Orange County resident is currently developing a second career as an artist and author.

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.”