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A West Coast Woodstock?

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a historic music festival remembered as much for its unpredictably large crowds, last minute venue changes, food and water shortages, challenging weather, and mud-loving concertgoers as it is for its lineup of legends like Eric Burden, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane.

No, not that festival.

We’re talking about the Newport Pop Festival, held right here on the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa August 3-4, 1968.

While it’s largely forgotten now, the Newport Pop Festival is arguably one of the most significant events in Costa Mesa cultural history. It is believed to be the first ever pop concert with more than 100,000 paying attendees (total attendance is estimated at 140,000) and it provided an important link between 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival and 1969’s Woodstock, presciently foreshadowing what was to come the following year.

To learn more about this important part of our cultural history, visit the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum’s exhibit box on the Newport Pop Festival, on display every Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

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Archivist Offers Course for Society Volunteers

This September Mary Ellen Goddard, archivist for the historical society, will be offering four free hourlong seminars on archival practice. Topics include ethics, search methods, cataloguing, boxing/storage, preservation, and acquisition criteria. All society volunteers are invited to learn how archivists can help researchers take advantage of our rich collection. To learn more, sign up below or call us at 949-631-5918.


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Society Welcomes New Intern

Augustin Espinoza is a history and political science major from Vanguard University who will be interning with the historical society over the fall term. Augustin will work on Mondays and Fridays for the next few months for a total of 90 hours, culminating in a letter grade. His primary work will be to develop a finding aid for Nell Murbarger’s non-local photographs. Next time you see him, be sure to say hello!

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The 71st Annual Fish Fry

Stop by our booth at the 71st Annual Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club Fish Fry this September 21-23 in Fairview Park. The popular festival expects an attendance of 15,000, and will feature live music, vendors, and carnival rides, not to mention plenty of fish made with Heinz Kaiser’s secret 70-year-old batter recipe.

“Even people who don’t like fish like ours,” says Mike Schaefer.

Costa Mesa Historical Society volunteers will be showing the DVD Echoes from the Fields and selling items from our gift shop. We are sharing the booth with the Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries. It’s a nice partnership since we share the parking lot at Lions Park.

Proceeds from the event are donated to organizations throughout the community. So come on by and show your support!

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Remembering Hank Panian

Historical Society Charter Member Henry S. “Hank” Panian passed from this life on July 14. In addition to his career as a history professor at Orange Coast College and a dedicated family man, Hank made time for community service and your Historical Society.

Hank became a charter member of the Historical Society in 1966. Since that time he has:

  • Served with distinction on our board of directors
  • Co-authored the Historical Society Quarterly from 1977-1987
  • Served as a docent at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe
  • Contributed his wit and wisdom to innumerable Society meetings and celebrations
  • Recorded his memories of Costa Mesa’s history at the city’s 50th anniversary, and
  • Provided expert review of the Society’s two pictorial history books.

Hank received the Society’s Living Memorial Award in 1987 and special recognition as one of two surviving charter members of the Society in 2015.

Rest in peace, Hank. This society will never forget your contributions.

— Art Goddard

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Living Memorial Nominations – August 2018

The Costa Mesa Historical Society is currently accepting nominations for its Living Memorial Award. The award is presented to an individual:

  • Who has given volunteer service over a period of time.
  • Who has made a creative contribution of historic value.

Those wishing to nominate someone to receive the Living Memorial Award should submit a letter to the Costa Mesa Historical Society. The letter should state the nominee’s full name, some information about the individual, their achievements, and why the nominee is deserving of the award. The recipient(s) will be selected by the Board of Directors.

Please address the letter to:

Living Memorial Award
Board of Directors
Costa Mesa Historical Society
P.O. Box 1764
Costa Mesa, CA 92628

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52nd Anniversary of the Diego Sepulveda Adobe restoration

August 28 marks the 52nd anniversary of the restoration of the Diego Sepulveda Adobe. Originally built in the early 1800s as an outpost for vaqueros from Mission San Juan Capistrano, the adobe is not just Costa Mesa’s oldest building, it’s one of the oldest in Orange County.

In 1961 clapboard walls that had been built around the original building caught fire, reminding historians, among others, of the adobe structure beneath. The Segerstrom family donated the adobe’s 5-acre site to the city the next year. The city, led by assistant city engineer George Madsen, restored the structure under the direction of the Costa Mesa Historical Society. Some reconstruction was necessary, but the restoration and furnishing process employed period methods wherever possible. The project was a resounding success. An estimated 700 people toured the “estancia” during the first open house in August 1966.

In 2012 Mexican artisans made further restorations. Floors were sealed, walls whitewashed, and exhibits updated, thus preserving the California landmark for a new generation.

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Bessie Lounsberry: A Most Remarkable Woman

Bessie Nell (White) Lounsberry (1886-1972) made many important contributions to the civic life of 1930s-50s Costa Mesa. She compiled the city directory, worked local elections, and served on the Costa Mesa Citizen’s Council, along with other volunteer roles. Her seven-year beautification campaign led to the planting of 1,026 trees. She was honored for her decades of selfless service with the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s second Living Memorial Award in 1973.

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Costa Mesa 129 Years Ago

Society director Bob Palazzola uncovered this gem from the April 1979 the Costa Mesa Historical Society Quarterly. It paints a colorful portrait of early Costa Mesa. Note the reference to A Slice of Orange by Edrick Miller in the final paragraph. The book is essential reading for local history fans.

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