The Kellogg House. Photo credit: Emma's Photographers|
When people think of Orange County, California, they may
think of such popular tourist destinations as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry
Farm. But a Victorian historical treasure trove is also tucked away in this
area: the Heritage Museum of Orange County.
I hadn’t heard of this special place until I got engaged and
my now-husband suggested it as a possible wedding venue—and indeed, we were
married here. But while June is a fun time to talk about weddings, the Heritage Museum is more than just one of the top wedding
venues in Orange County. It is full of history on its own!
The museum grounds cover 12 acres and include a central plaza
where several historic buildings have been meticulously transferred, a
certified farm that sells its own produce, and a beautiful orange grove and
rose garden. The entire property is a delight to stroll around and enjoy the
scent of orange blossoms, sight of lavender-blossomed jacaranda trees, and
beautifully restored historical buildings.
The Kellogg House
Upstairs "bridal room"in the Kellogg HousePhoto credit: Emma's Photographers
The highlight of the Heritage Museum tends to be the Kellogg House (see top photo), former home of Hiram Clay Kellogg, prominent civil engineer of Santa Ana
and nearby cities like Elsinore and Corona (but not of Kellogg's cereal, as I first
thought!). Kellogg lived in this home with his family in Santa Ana from when he
built it in 1898, but when in the 1980 the neighborhood was being condemned,
the house was moved to the Heritage Museum to preserve it. Built with late Queen
Anne-style Victorian architecture, the house features a broad front porch,
balcony, and charming dormer peak, making it a popular site for
Downstairs in the Kellogg House. Photo credit: Emma's Photographers|
Inside, the home is decorated in delightfully authentic
Victorian style, with an organ in the parlor and detailed antique dollhouse on exhibit, plus old-fashioned sewing machine and mirrors in the upstairs bedroom, which also serves as
the bridal room for weddings. There’s even an old-fashioned schoolroom, quite
appropriate since thousands of schoolchildren visit the house for hands-on experience
of the Victorian era. They can even dress up in costume!
Spiral staircase built around a ship's mast!Photo credit: Emma's Photographers
The unique spiral staircase forms the centerpiece of the
house—literally and figuratively—as it is built around a real ship’s mast from
a ship in San Francisco, thanks to Kellogg’s fascination with ships. The
various landings suggest the bridge or, if you make it to the open attic, the
crow’s nest of a ship as well.
The Maag Farmhouse
While it is not yet open to visitors, the museum is
currently working to restore the interior of the John A. Maag Farmhouse, the 1899
home of nut and citrus grower John Anton Maag and his family. In the meantime,
it’s unusual lavender exterior and charming architecture add another aspect to
the museum’s grounds.
The Blacksmith Shop
The Heritage Museum grounds also hold a fully operational
blacksmith shop, home of the Orange County Blacksmith Guild. If you’ve ever
wanted to take a class in blacksmithing, this is the place to come!
Other fun things to see include the Carriage House (built
and painted to match the Maag Farmhouse and now serving as "groom's quarters" for weddings), a
covered wagon located behind the Carriage House, the farm and gardens
(including hydroponics and aquaponics), and “Gospel Swamp,” the only remaining
freshwater swamp in southern California and an area originally populated by poor
farming families. Preachers of various denominations used to set up revival tent
meetings here, hence the name.
Also, don’t miss a walk by the orange grove—it not only
looks and smells lovely, but also contains historic farming equipment from
California’s orange orchard heydays.
In addition to field trips, the Heritage Museum of Orange
County hosts multiple events throughout the year, from Civil War Days to a Jane
Austen tea to various cultural exhibits. If you are in the area, check their website
for upcoming events: http://heritagemuseumoc.org/
So, if you were to visit the Heritage Museum of Orange
County, which exhibits or features sound most fascinating to you? Please comment
Kiersti Giron holds a life-long passion for history and historical
fiction. She loves to write stories that show the intersection of past and
present, explore relationships that bridge cultural divides, and probe the
healing Jesus can bring out of brokenness. Kiersti has been published in
several magazines and won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award - Historical for her
manuscript Beneath a Turquoise Sky. A high school teacher and
member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kiersti loves learning and
growing with other writers penning God's story into theirs, as well as blogging
at www.kierstigiron.com. She lives
in California with her wonderful husband, Anthony, and their two kitties.