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Japanese Costa Mesans, 1920-1942
Detail from a 1938 photo of students and parents at the Japanese school in Costa Mesa. L-to-R: B. Omori, M. Inokuchi, S. Kanno, Kaz Kuirhara, S. Kurihara, K. Shigaki, Unknown.

Japanese Costa Mesans, 1920-1942

You may have heard of the postwar Japanese-Costa Mesans like the Sakiokas and the Iwamotos. But how much do you know about the Japanese families who lived here before World War II – the Hiratas, Yamamis, Omoris, Ikedas, and Kuriharas?

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The Lost Landmarks of Mayor Willard T. Jordan
Willard Jordan, AIA, called Nabers Cadillac at 2600 Harbor Boulevard “as good as I have ever designed.”

The Lost Landmarks of Mayor Willard T. Jordan

Willard T. Jordan (1913-1981) is perhaps best known for his public service, both in politics and in philanthropy. Not only did he serve as mayor from 1966-68 and as councilman for a decade, he received, among other honors, the OCC’s Outstanding Citizen’s Award for Distinguished Community Service and Man of the Year awards from both the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the City of Santa Ana.

“I never heard anybody say anything but the very best about him,” said local historian and friend George Grupe. “And that’s hard to happen to you if you’re the mayor of the city.”

With such an honored public reputation, it’s easy to forget that privately, Jordan, AIA, was a prolific architect. Nevertheless, he designed many Costa Mesa landmarks over the course of his 30-year career. 

In a 1978 interview with the historical society, Jordan was asked which of his buildings he was most proud of. Sadly, developers haven’t been kind to his legacy. Much is now lost. Below we find out what has befallen this significant Costa Mesa architect’s favorite projects .

330 West Bay Street

This award-winning facility served as the home of the Daily Pilot for nearly six decades. But after the newspaper moved to the LA Times building in 2004 the structure was demolished to help ‘revitalize’ the area, as was said at the time. It is now the home of a housing development, the Bungalows of Bay Street.

2803 Royal Palm Drive

Built in 1961, Fire Station No. 1 once served as the headquarters for the Costa Mesa Fire Department. In 2017 it was determined the structure — by then aging, cramped, out of date, and out of code — would be cheaper to rebuild than to renovate. A new $10-million, 11,740-sq. ft., state-of-the-art station opened in the summer of 2018.

2850 Mesa Verde Drive East

Jordan designed this medical, dental, and professional building in the early 1960s. In 2017, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission determined the site was “not an efficient use of land and really no longer functional”. The building was demolished to make way for 11 new houses in phase 2 of the Miraval housing development.

2600 Harbor Boulevard

The iconic Nabers Cadillac earned Jordan an “Award of Honor” in 1968 for its creative, functional, and dramatic use of concrete. “Nabers Cadillac is probably as good as I have ever designed,” said Jordan in 1978. In 2014 the building was demolished by Orange Coast Buick GMC Cadillac and replaced by a “state-of-the-art dealership with 32 indoor service bays and two ‘Internet-driven’ showrooms.”

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Trailblazing Women of the Old West

The Costa Mesa Historical Society is pleased to announce that author Craig MacDonald will be our speaker on Sunday March 17, 2019 . as he presents his latest book, “Trailblazing Women in the Old West”!

Craig will talk about some amazing women in the field of Mining, Conservation, Voting, Law Enforcement, Temperance and Crime. He’ll also have available for autographing some of his award-winning books, including The California State Library’s “Book of Week,” “Old West Christmas-Tales with a Twist.” It’s a talk you won’t want to miss!

Pulitzer Prize nominee Craig MacDonald, a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, is the author of 24 books on the West. The historian speaks at national conferences, museums, historical societies and universities. His relatives came to California in the Gold Rush. To learn more about Craig and his books, go to www.goldrushglimpses.com

So come bring a friend and hear some tales of the Old West!

Seating is limited, for RESERVATIONS call (949) 631-5918. Doors open at 2:00, program at 2:30. Free admission and refreshments. We are located at 1870 Anaheim Ave. northwest corner of the Lions Park complex. Visit www.costamesahistory.org or go to facebook/costa mesa historical society for more information.

Note: Due to construction, entry to parking lot must be made from Anaheim Ave.

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2018’s Artistic License Fair Draws on Success

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the annual Artistic License Fair in Estancia Park. Makers and buyers alike praised this year’s event featuring the work of dozens of Southern California artisans. The event was great for Costa Mesa history, too. Volunteers at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe introduced a steady stream of visitors to local history.  Thank you to all who participated for helping to make this event a success!

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Happy Birthday, Gladys! Longtime Society Volunteer Turns 100

Happy birthday to Gladys Refakes, the longtime society volunteer who turned 100 this past October! On October 25, representatives from OneOC hand-delivered a bouquet of flowers to Gladys while she was hard at work. Fresh fruit was served over lunch — this healthy lady doesn’t eat cake.

A couple days later, family, friends, and colleagues gathered at Zov’s in Tustin for more festivities. Gladys has volunteered for the society since the early 1980s. In that time the South Dakota native has held a number of titles, including Secretary, office manager, and newsletter editor.

Besides the historical society, Gladys has been active in the Women’s Club, the Senior Club, the Freedom Committee, the Cancer Society, and more. Happy birthday, Gladys!

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