June 27, 2022

Photo Essay: Southern California's Oldest County Courthouse

The Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California—the county seat of Orange County—is a Richardsonian Romanesque monolith of steel, cement, and brick clad in Arizona red sandstone (with a foundation clad in Temecula granite).  

It was dedicated in 1901, just 12 years after the establishment of Orange County (having split off from Los Angeles County). That makes it Southern California's oldest county court building—now recognized as a historic landmark on both the state and federal levels.

June 25, 2022

Photo Essay: Hayward's Japanese Gardens, Built 30+ Years After the WWII-Era Detention of Japanese-Americans

The East Bay city of Hayward, California once had a large population of Japanese-Americans. But during World War II, they were sent to internment camps—like the detention center at the former Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, on the San Francisco peninsula.

You might not ever know it by visiting the city today—were it not for the Japanese Gardens, just beyond the Hayward Area Senior Center. 

June 21, 2022

Photo Essay: A Peek Into the Millard Sheets-Designed Bank That's Becoming Chabad of Beverly Hills

A couple of weeks ago, I joined Hollywood Heritage on a bus tour of some of the Millard Sheets-designed bank buildings in the Los Angeles area. 

I'd already been inside several of them (including the closed Santa Monica location and the to-be-landmarked Sunset and Vine location)—but I was interested in what our guide, Adam Arenson (who literally wrote the book on Millard Sheets and his banks), would have to say. 

Since our tour took place on Memorial Day—a bank holiday—I assumed we'd only be able to admire these structures from the outside and peer through the windows. 

But then we got to the former bank on Wilshire Boulevard and Oakhurst in Beverly Hills—which I'd driven by many times.

June 20, 2022

Photo Essay: The Only Surviving Home from the Demolished Desert Inn Country Club Estates, Vegas

I'd been waiting since 2019 to return to Nevada Preservation Foundation's annual Home + History tour—and one of my top destinations this year was the nationally-landmarked Morelli House by architect Hugh E. Taylor.  

June 16, 2022

Photo Essay: A Victorian Home Built Like a Ship Is Permanently Moored at Heritage Museum of Orange County

Formerly known as both The Discovery Museum of Orange County and the Centennial Heritage Museum, the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, California is home to many local artifacts and educational exhibits... 

...but its centerpiece is the H. Clay Kellogg House, designed and built in 1898 by Hiram Clay Kellogg and relocated from 122 Orange Avenue (now a parking lot) to the museum grounds in 1980. 

June 10, 2022

Photo Essay: Dodger Stadium, Home of The First Sports Arena Botanic Garden In the U.S.

LA's newest botanic garden isn't in the mountain foothills or on the grounds of some grand, historic estate. 

It's at Dodger Stadium—the first sports arena in the country to qualify for botanic garden accreditation (which took five years). 

June 05, 2022

Photo Essay: Santa Barbara's 'Queen of the Missions,' Never Abandoned

After visiting all of the other Southern California Spanish missions—including some of the sub-missions (or asistencias)—over the course of my 11 years living out here, I finally got to Mission Santa Barbara (in the Central Coast city of the same name). 

Founded in 1786 by the "forgotten friar" Friar Fermín de Lasuén—successor to Junípero Serra—as the 10th of 21 Franciscan missions, it's the only continuously operating mission in the California system. Even after secularization in 1833, the Franciscan friars were allowed to stay—helping this mission avoid the neglect and vandalism that plagued the others that were abandoned. 

It became known as the "Queen of the Missions"—a title it has retained, having never fallen into ruins.  

June 04, 2022

Photo Essay: The Oldest Hotel in Vegas, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino at 1 Fremont Street

I've been feeling a sense of urgency to visit all the Vegas hotels and casinos I can before they get imploded. I've seen too many disappear already—some devastatingly before I ever had the chance to visit. 

I still rack my brain trying to remember what the Strip was like when I first stayed there, at the Stratosphere, when I was too sick with the flu to really explore or appreciate it. That was before I knew everything would go away one day. 

Now I know. And it tortures me.