Welcome to the Orange County Historical Society
The Orange County Historical Society (OCHS) is a non-profit group which collects, preserves and shares the history of Orange County, California for the benefit of its members and the general public. To navigate the OCHS Website, use the menus and links in the top and left panels, or click Site Map. Check back often to find the latest Society news.

November 2018  Meeting Program

CALIFORNIA CRAZY: California Roadside & Programmatic Architecture

7:30 pm on Thursday, November 8th


From orange-shaped citrus stands, to the Brown Derby, to the giant dinosaurs of Cabazon, nothing says “Southern California” quite like our crazy architecture. Join author and historian Jim Heimann on a virtual tour through our audacious and innovative landscape of eccentric buildings at the Thurs., Nov. 8 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society at 7:30p.m. Heimann will discuss programmatic architecture (e.g. “buildings that look like things”): a unique and enduring expression of American vernacular architecture.  

Americans’ predilection for wanderlust at the beginning of the automobile age prompted inventive entrepreneurs to address this new mode of transportation. Starting in the 1920’s, attention-grabbing buildings began to appear that would draw drivers going 35 m.p.h. to stop in for snacks, provisions, souvenirs, or a quick meal. The architectural establishment deemed them “monstrosities” and dismissed them. Yet they flourished, especially along America’s Sunbelt, as their owners heeded a creative impulse and constructed giant owls, dolls, pigs, ships, coffee pots, and fruit. Their symbolic intent was guileless, prompting their slow deletion in a chapter of America’s social and architectural history. Yet photographic documentation of the past 40 years has assured their place in the architectural hierarchy and has prompted this building type to continue to flourish.  

Southern California native Jim Heimann is a historian, cultural anthropologist, author, educator, and the executive editor of Taschen Publishing America.  He has been active in the arts field for the past 45 years publishing numerous books and articles and is a faculty member of Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, where he has taught since 1988. A greatly expanded and beautifully illustrated third edition of his classic book, California Crazy: American Pop Architecture (first published almost 40 years ago) was released earlier this year.  

Our meeting will be held on Thursday, November 8th, at 7:30 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. As always, members and the general public are cordially invited to attend.

As always, members and the general public are cordially invited to attend. 



100 Years is upon us! 2019 marks the Centennial Celebration of Orange County Historical Society. Come join us during this special commemorative birthday year, 1919-2019, and enjoy special meetings, historical expedition field trip, social gatherings, and much more!

Join the Centennial Circle!

To help support our yearlong 100th celebration, we ask you join the Centennial Circle. The Centennial Circle will include limited edition memorabilia, invitations to patron only programs, your name on our Centennial Plaque, and more from January to December 2019. You can become a Centennial Circle patron for $100.00 per person. Our Centennial Circle Patrons will help with associated costs of our special programs.

*Please Note* Centennial Circle membership is seperate from the standard OCHS annual membership. Annual membership is not included as part of the Centennial Circle program.

Click Below to Join the Centennial Circle!




Get in on the action by volunteering your time, and/or services to the centennial cause and festivities. Email kcabrera@heritagemuseumoc.org

2019 Planned Centennial Programs

January – Centennial Circle Kick off Program

March/April – Centennial Circle Members Only Event

June – Orange County Living History Faire

July – Portola Expedition Field Trip

September – Centennial Gala Dinner

October – Centennial Circle Members Only Event


More to come in the next few months…



Upcoming OCHS Office Hours!


The OCHS office and archives is regularly open on the last Saturday of every month from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Board members will be available to assist you with your research questions and help you discover what materials we have.


If you need more information or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact us at info@orangecountyhistory.org.


Past Meetings & Events

List of Past Meetings and Events
from 1919 to 2015


Followup on
Recent OCHS Activities

Calico Trip photos and videos

Blue Light Mine History Hike photos


Orange Countiana I - XI


Jim Sleeper's
Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities

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