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Events Keep History Alive at Heritage Museum

Updated: Jan 9

Unique events at Santa Ana’s Heritage Museum of Orange County help fundraise and raise awareness for the nonprofit.


The Kellogg House, one of the main buildings of the Heritage Museum, was designed and built by Santa Ana’s first city engineer Hiram Clay Kellogg in 1898. It was moved in 1980 from its original location in Santa Ana on Orange and Walnut to its current location of Fairview and West Harvard Streets. Photo courtesy of Amanda and Nico
 

Louise Arnold was attending a paranormal investigation through her group, Spirit Seekers Paranormal Investigators, at the Heritage Museum of Orange County when she noticed the Maag Farmhouse’s need for repair.


“I have known the former executive director for some time and reached out asking what we could do to help,” said Arnold, an Alhambra resident and a small business owner. “I asked a few vendor friends if they were interested in joining our efforts and we created a team. We then met with the museum to plan a marketplace that would raise funds for the Maag Farmhouse.”


Maag Marketplace was formed in 2022 and it held its first event at the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana – called Bloody Valentine – in February 2023, raising about $3,000. But the fundraising is far from finished. The projected renovation cost for the Maag Farmhouse is $1.28 million, including demolition, structural and architectural work, plumbing, HVAC, electrical and elevator system for the house.


As part of the museum’s fundraising efforts and larger mission of inclusivity, it offers a wide and varied calendar of events — from the Annual Eggstravaganza on March 24 to Día de los Muertos Community Altar and Celebration on Oct. 25 and more in between.


Events held on the grounds of the Heritage Museum of Orange County include the Eggstravaganza (photos 1 and 2) and From Dinosaurs to People (photo 3.) Photos courtesy of the Heritage Museum of Orange County archive.


Event Diversity

HMOC marketing director Shandra Wilson said the museum has worked to keep its mission – as a cultural and natural history center dedicated to preserving and sharing local narratives, especially those of minority communities – in mind for all its events. To that end, they see the museum as a community venue, with public events accessible to everyone.


“To do this we maintain a mix of events that are culturally driven, with ‘edutainment’ value,” Wilson said. “We host gatherings that appeal to the community as a whole, and events that cater to specific niches. Keeping a broad spectrum and calendar of events allows us to introduce HMOC and our mission to as wide of a range of people as possible.”


In addition to horror-themed events including the Bloody Valentine fundraiser and Creep It Real OC and the recent Creep It Real Festive, there are many others – both open and accessible to the public, as well as private, closed events like weddings and corporate functions.


Wilson said one of their most notable HMOC-produced events is the very popular and free-to-the-public From Dinosaurs to People, an annual event held last year on June 8, showing Orange County’s history going back to the prehistoric era. They also host an annual, free HMOC Eggstravaganza with community partnerships, vendors and all-ages egg hunts.


The museum was gifted a collection amassed over 50 years from the unofficial Black historian of Orange County Harriet Tyler. Museum conservator Sydney Horner helped create an ongoing “Summer of Civil Rights” exhibition chronicling the Black movement in OC that ran through the summer.


The nonprofit rescue organization Barks of Love also brings its Halloween Bark Bash and Doggy Prom to the museum grounds. HMOC has an ongoing partnership with Haunted Orange County and ghost tour hostess Darcy Staniforth, who talks about the history and ghost stories of the Kellogg House to sell-out crowds every month.


The Maag Farmhouse. Photo courtesy of Amanda and Nico

Restoration and Renovation

There are big plans for the Maag Farmhouse once funds are raised.


“Maintenance and upkeep of the historic buildings and grounds under our care is an ongoing process that we always gratefully accept donations for, but full restoration of the Maag Farmhouse is one of the main fundraising goals of the museum,” Wilson said. “The Maag Farmhouse is currently closed to the public for safety and to preserve the integrity of the house until it undergoes extensive renovation efforts, except for very limited special events, but the dream is to build it into a multifunctional home for community memory keeping.”


The goal is for the farmhouse to become a space for storytelling, a public research center and more. The first floor would serve as exhibition, gallery, lecture and meeting space while the second floor would become the official archive and collection space of Heritage Museum.


“The restoration of the Maag Farmhouse will not only allow visitors to learn from, and engage with one another, but will also make immersive, educational experiences available to students and community members,” Wilson said. “It’s one of HMOC’s most ambitious and worthy projects that will require a considerable fundraising effort.”


Wilson said events help fund the museum’s upkeep, maintenance and staff as well as contribute directly to hands-on educational programs. Plus, they help raise awareness about the museum’s offerings.


“It’s really amazing to welcome new people into our HMOC family with every event,” Wilson said. “We have couples that married on our grounds return with their pets for events, and then with their children, and we get to watch them grow right along with the museum.”

 

Wilson said the Kellogg family’s 1898 home was designed and built by Santa Ana’s first city engineer Hiram Clay Kellogg. It was moved in 1980 in one night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. from its original location in Santa Ana on Orange and Walnut to its current location of Fairview and West Harvard Streets.


Then in 1982, the Maag family ranch residence, and two of its outbuildings, originally located on the present-day site of Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, were saved from demolition, disassembled and moved across town near the Kellogg House. Founded in 1981, the museum opened for visitors in 1985. The museum served mainly Santa Ana students for the first 10 years.


“These beautiful historic buildings require constant and consistent maintenance and care,” HMOC interim executive director Candace Chromy said. “Any work that is done is performed to maintain the historic feel, look and integrity of the building. In many cases we must search for appropriate craftspeople that can perform the work and obtain the materials for woodworking and building. Many techniques were quite different in the late 19th century as compared to building today. I believe that because these homes were built to last is why we are still able to enjoy them today.”


Buildings on the Heritage Museum campus. PHOTO 1: The Carriage House and Quilter's Cottage. PHOTO 2: The Blacksmith Cottage. PHOTO 3: Murals on the Hertitage House grounds that showcase early life in Orange County. Photo courtesy of Sandra Wilson.

 

In addition to the Kellogg House and Maag Family Farmhouse, Wilson said

HMOC’s 12 acres also include a fully functional blacksmith shop where the O.C. Blacksmith Guild operates, holds classes and participates in school field trips and event demonstrations; a Quilter’s Cottage used for exhibits and field trips; and an authentically made Adobe house.


There’s also the Gospel Swamp Farm, an urban farm and living seed library where visitors learn about horticulture and sustainable farming and Gospel Swamp Natural Area open to self-led trail walks and one of the few places left in central Orange County with federally designated and protected wetlands.


There are also a couple of notable murals, including “Siempre Santa Ana” featuring historic Santa Ana buildings and portraits of key Santa Ana historical figures, and “Spanish, Indians, and Today’s Hispanics,” a piece by Chicano muralist Emigdio Vasquez restored by his daughter, Rosemary Vasquez Tuthill, and donated to the museum.


More Events to Come

Arnold and the Maag Marketplace are working on their next event for Feb. 10, from noon to 6 p.m., called Sideshow of Horrors. There are also plans for a metaphysical event in August 2024.


“Sideshow of Horrors will be a horror/sideshow-themed event,” Arnold said. "We will have vendors, food trucks, live music, card readers and various entertainment throughout the property.” Admission is free, but funds from vendor fees will go directly toward the restoration of the Maag Farmhouse.


“Sideshow of Horrors will be our second horror-themed event,” Arnold said.

She owns a horror-themed design and fashion small business called Dreadfully Cute Designs.


“The horror community is a great fit for historical locations,” Arnold said. “We have great respect for our history and are always looking for ways to preserve the locations.”


Heritage Museum of Orange County

Activities: Kellogg House tour, special exhibits, prizes for scavenger hunts, self-led trail hikes, special guests

When: January Public Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays Jan. 7, 14, 21​ and 28

Where: 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana

Cost: $10, $5 for children 12 and under, free for members. Admission is paid at the gate with cash or card.

Contact: 714-540-0404, heritagemuseumoc.org


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