Costa Mesa Timeline
Diego Sepulveda Adobe
Museum & Headquarters
Santa Ana Army Air Base
Collections & Resources
Fence under construction
CMHS Facebook Link
Museum and Headquarters
1870 Anaheim Avenue.
building is located near the downtown library and recreation center. Open
Thursdays and Fridays 10-3
Costa Mesa Historical Society is a civic organization whose members care
about promoting and preserving the history of our town.
Since its opening in 1981, the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s Museum
and Headquarters building has served as the repository for our collection of
local history items including:
Natural and man-made objects
Photographs and maps
Newspapers, periodicals and news clipping files
Oral Histories, audio/video recordings and motion picture films
Published works such as books, pamphlets, directories and school yearbooks
Unpublished works such as manuscripts, personal papers, other archival
Only a small portion of our collection can be exhibited at any one time.
Society volunteers have selected representative items for public exhibit.
Early Periods – Indian, Mission, Rancho Periods, 2500BC
to 1870s: Includes cogged stones, arrowheads, grindstones, baskets; an
Indian village diorama; and the story of the Diego Sepulveda Adobe (the
Estancia), our connection to Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Early Communities – Farming Period, 1880s to 1930s: Includes the boom and
bust of Fairview; establishment of farming communities of Paularino and
Harper; and the contest to select a new name for Harper (winning entry:
Costa Mesa Homestead, 1920s to 1950s: Includes vintage household furnishings
and products; farm tools and implements; and period office equipment. Most
frequent comment: "My grandfather (or grandmother)
one of those."
City Incorporation, 1950s to 1960s: Includes the campaign for incorporation
of Costa Mesa in the face of annexation moves by Santa Ana and Newport
Beach; early city halls; city staff; city council; and the building of
today’s civic center.
Transition to "City of the Arts", 1960s to 2003: Includes the growth and
development of modern Costa Mesa to a fully built-out city; South Coast
Plaza; Orange County Performing Arts Center; and downtown redevelopment,
Costa Mesa Courtyards and Triangle Square.
Costa Mesa from the Air, 1955 to 1987: Includes four giant aerial
photographs (7ft. x 7ft.) of the Costa Mesa area taken in 1955, 1966, 1973
and 1987. These aerial photos document the miraculous growth of Costa Mesa
from agricultural roots to bustling city with population over 100,000. Most
frequent comment: "There’s my house!"
Santa Ana Army Air Base, 1942 to 1946: Includes cadet classification and
training; class photos; uniforms; personal gear and insignia; maps;
instruments; Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and Jack Otterson’s original sketch of
the famed Gremlin Mural. Supplementing the SAAAB exhibit is a collection of
fine scale models of the aircraft flown by SAAAB cadets as well as other
aircraft pre-WW II to late cold war era.
Special exhibits focus on topics of current interest –
they change more frequently than the permanent exhibits described above.
Newport Boulevard – Remember When? Covers the period starting when we had a
railroad operating down the center of Newport Blvd up to the present time,
pointing out some of the original buildings still in use today.
C. J. Segerstrom & Sons: In 1882 C. J. Segerstrom relocated his family to
the USA from Sweden, finally arriving in the Costa Mesa area several years
later. This exhibit covers the family businesses, farming and property
development, and the many contributions the family has made to the area.
Costa Mesa’s First Schools: Includes schoolhouses and pupils from the early
communities of Fairview, Paularino and Harper (beginning in 1889); the Costa
Mesa School (1923); Lindbergh School (1931); and the new Costa Mesa Grammar
School (1935) (later became McNally School). Can you help to identify any of
the students or teachers in our school photos?
One Hundred Years of Industry: Covers the changes in industrial activity in
the Costa Mesa area beginning with agriculture – ranching, grain farming,
chicken farming, orchards – and leading to the advent of fiberglass and the
spawning of the boat building industry. Later industrial development
includes industrial ceramics, information and apparel industries. Most
frequent comment: "I didn’t know that!"
Hours, Activities and Events
Costa Mesa Historical Society museum and library is open to the public every
Thursday and Friday between 10:00am and 3:00pm, and at other times by
appointment. Please visit the following pages for additional information on
activities, events and other Historical Society information:
information on Costa Mesa Historical Society activities can be found at the
If you are interested in volunteering or joining the Costa Mesa Historical
Society, please fill out our