Rediscovering Historic Downtown Santa Ana

Our historic structures will soon be honored again as the subject of a rewritten walking tour brochure titled Rediscovering Historic Downtown Santa Ana. Our historic buildings, and even some buildings that have not achieved such lofty status in Santa Ana, are the permanent legend of a great city poised at the beginning of the previous century. They remind us all of a local heritage deep in value and importance. They were last honored, in consolidated brochure form, when the City dedicated itself to saving these structures in the 1980s.

Many are aware of the cultural monuments of our City and how interesting and important our history is to our development. Our environment and surroundings shape all of us. What we act like, wear, and feel is often based on what we see (or what we let ourselves see) of our surroundings. Philosophers quip that our understanding of today is based on where we have been, and our future is painted—at least partially—somewhere in our past.

Naturally, one needs to be careful as to what part of the history one considers. Based on what is happening in Florida—nothing is as it seems. Based on television advertising, everything is perfect. According to the baboon in The Lion King, “It doesn’t mattah; izz oall in deh past!”

Our historic structures are real and they work for us. They house our businesses and, in some cases, our families. Part of the job of knowing them better was addressed by the original Downtown Walking Tour Guide developed in the late 1980s by Heritage Orange County—a group of young historians dedicated to saving and preservation of these buildings. The stack of brochures wore thin sometime thereafter and the City dedicated some money to its reprinting.

Diann Marsh and Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society (SAHPS) originally took this task to heart. Guy Ball and SAHPS continued with the project, realizing the importance of the guide to Downtown development and preservation, as well as to the City. Now the brochure is nearly completed and the contributing editors Guy Ball, Catherine Cate and Tony Hatch are all to be congratulated. SAHPS activist and resident Tim Rush and yours truly contributed to parts of this work as well. Guy Ball felt that a map format was a good improvement on the original guide. Guy enlisted the help of Tony Hatch, who has plenty of publication experience with Downtown and understands the nature of the area. Tony pulled in long-time French Park resident Catherine Cate her fine editorial presence. Heritage OC gave permission to reuse some of their original text—a huge asset.

The guide has passed a SAHPS final review and input, and comments have been included. The original funding did not include funding for printing. The Society is working to obtain the funds for the printing of this very important informational and educational tool.

(Donald Krotee, “Rediscovering Historic Downtown Santa Ana,” Downtown Business News, January 2001)

Diana NguyenBusiness News