What is the purpose of the Orange Community Historical Society?

Our mission statement responds to this question. In a nutshell, the historical society’s goal is to collect and preserve items representing Orange’s history (books, newspapers, photos, and more) so that future generations can enjoy and refer to them, gaining a better understanding of the past. In addition to collecting these items, the historical society holds many events designed to inform the public about the fascinating history of Orange.

Is the Orange Community Historical Society the same as the Old Towne Preservation Association?

No. Although both organizations are concerned with preserving the heritage of Orange, their missions are different. The Orange Community Historical Society focuses on the city of Orange and the communities within its boundaries, like El Modena and Olive. It collects and preserves the history of these communities by adding to the local history archives. The Old Towne Preservation Association focuses on preserving and enhancing Old Towne Orange, the downtown neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.

Does Orange have an archival collection?

Yes, this collection is at the Orange Library & History Center located at 407 E. Chapman Avenue in Orange. The local history collection includes the Florence Flippen Smiley Memorial Archives, which are on permanent loan from the Orange Community Historical Society, as well as items acquired by the library through purchase or donations. Within the collection are books, periodicals, photographs, manuscripts, maps, pamphlets, ephemera, and artifacts. A variety of subject areas are represented with particular emphasis on the citrus industry, old businesses, civic and religious organizations, and city agencies.

How can I donate items to the archives?

Donations can be made directly to the History Room at the Orange Library & History Center. Copies can be made of photographs and documents, if you want to retain the original while sharing the content with the community. Remember, today’s information and images are tomorrow’s history, so consider documenting and donating current as well as past materials.

How can I get a copy of something housed in the archives?

The Orange Public Library’s website is a great source for photographs, maps and other documents. The History Room at the library can also make copies of photos within books or periodicals that might not be available online.

Where are the historic parts of the city?

The history of Orange is everywhere you look. The Plaza and the Old Towne neighborhood are among the most obvious examples of historic Orange, but other historic sites are far-flung. The Irvine Regional Park (1 Irvine Park Rd, at the intersection of Katella Ave. and Jamboree Rd.) celebrated its centennial in 1997; once known as Orange County Park, it has been featured in a number of films, including “Topper,” starring Cary Grant, and “Lassie Come Home.” Between the park and the Plaza is the unincorporated community of El Modena, originally an independent small town largely settled by Quakers. Moreno’s Mexican Restaurant (4328 E. Chapman Ave.) was once used as a Quaker church, and Fred Kelly Stadium (also on E. Chapman Ave.) is named for an Olympic gold medal-winner who graduated from Orange Union High School in 1911. At the north end of Orange is Olive, another unincorporated community. There are historic homes in the hills of Olive, as well as the 1938 auditorium (once the Olive Civic Center) of Olive Elementary School. At the corner of Orange-Olive Rd. and Lincoln Ave. is a plaque commemorating the site of Old Santa Ana, the town established there after Jose Antonio Yorba, a solider in the Portola expedition of 1769, petitioned for and received a land grant. There are even historic trees and weirs in Orange. History is in every corner of the city, you just have to know where to look! That’s where the Orange Community Historical Society can help.

How can I learn more?

Attend a historical society meeting! You’re sure to hear fun and interesting stories about the good ol’ days in Orange. Lots of books have been written about Orange history. You can find many of them at the Orange Public Library, and be sure to check out the local history website at www.cityoforange.org/localhistory for information and historical photographs! Also check out our Links.