Visiting the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana is like taking a trip back in time. Tucked back in a pocket of Santa Ana, it remains one of Orange County’s most beautiful hidden gems. Recently, JLife had a chance to visit this historical plaza and it was truly like being back in the late 19th Century. The museum is set on a 12-acre site and is filled with mini adventures everywhere you look. To start, there is the museum’s centerpiece, the Kellogg House, which is one of the first things you notice upon arrival. Standing tall and majestic, the Kellogg House was built in 1898 and is named after Hiram Clay Kellogg, a civil engineer. However, Hiram was not your typical civil engineer. He is, in fact, one of the engineers responsible for creating the development template of modern Orange County. He was also an avid wooden ship lover and that influence can be seen throughout the home’s interior. In fact, he designed the three-story-high circular staircase that is the centerpiece of the home to reflect many of the design elements and carvings of the ships of that time.
“But how did the home get here?” (One might ask) Well, that’s a good question because the house was actually lifted off its foundation and moved to its new permanent home. The house and lot were slated to be sold in 1980 so members of the community, made arrangements with the Santa Ana Unified School District to move the house to its present site where it is now used as a teaching site for young people to learn about the past.
The Heritage Museum is also home to the Maag House, which was built in 1899 for John and Katherine Maag and their family of 12 children. It was lifted off its foundation and relocated to the Heritage Museum site in 1982. The house, along with its and associated water tower and carriage barn, were moved together and are now nestled between the museum’s orange grove and walking trails.
And speaking of walking trails, the museum has a beautiful trail that begins at their working blacksmith station and takes you to the other end of the property to reveal a garden complete with delicious veggies. It is maintained by museum staff and local students. Heritage Museum also has a panning station where you can learn about the California Gold Rush and if you really go exploring you may just find a hidden goldmine as well. And that’s how this place works really. It is a hands-on virtual classroom that incorporates learning opportunities into adventures of discovery.
For information on the museum’s on site classes or how you can support the Heritage Museum please visit www.heritagemuseumoc.org or call (714) 540-0404. Or better yet, take a trip back in time and see it yourself at 3101 West Harvard Street, Santa Ana.