Historic French Park Neighborhood Association
Welcome to our neighborhood!
Welcome to our neighborhood...
Welcome to Historic French Park, a unique urban neighborhood in the heart of Orange County. The stately antique homes on tree-lined streets that make up our neighborhood's historic core create a special haven for those of us who live here.
This website is developed and maintained by members of the Historic French Park Association. We appreciate the interest of fellow old-home enthusiasts near and far who visit Historic French Park both online and on the ground. Please bookmark us and return for the latest neighborhood news or Holiday Home Tour information.
All neighbors are encouraged to subscribe to our neighborhood email list.
Historic French Park Association
The French Park Historic District is a 20-square-block residential district northeast of downtown Santa Ana. Its streets are lined with large homes built during the late 1880s and into the 1920s by some of Orange County's most prominent citizens. Its roots began in 1877, when a group of Santa Ana residents were anticipating the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad. William Spurgeon, J. H. Fruit and James McFadden, three of Santa Ana's most prominent citizens, formed a corporation called the Western Development Company. The three persuaded the Southern Railroad to extend its line from its terminus at Anaheim to Santa Ana. By the time the tracks were laid in 1878, the company had plotted a 160-acre tract called Santa Ana East. It was located parallel to the railroad tracks, at an angle to the original townsite.
During the 1890s, George Wright purchased a triangular-shaped area from this subdivision for his new home. The property was eventually bought by surrounding neighbors. Mr. Wright's home was moved from the original plot to the southeast corner of Minter (then G. St.) and Vance Place. When the house was moved, the neighbors donated the vacated land to the city for a park with the stipulation that French Street be opened to its full width. Flatiron Park, named because it was shaped like a flatiron, is now known as French Park.
The turn-of-the-century brought wealth and prosperity to Santa Ana. When Miles Crookshank built his large, beautifully detailed Colonial Revival house at 802 N. French in 1900, it set the standard for more Colonial Revival, Victorian and Neo-Classical homes to be built along the oak tree-lined street. The area soon became known as the "Nob Hill" of Orange County. By 1905, the lots in the north end of the neighborhood were beginning to fill up with superior versions of the Craftsman Bungalow style.
During the late 1910s and 1920s, a dozen unique Spanish Colonial and Spanish Eclectic Revival homes and fourplex apartment buildings were constructed on the few remaining lots in French Park. The 900 block of Lacy still contains several of these buildings.
The 1940s brought thousands of military men from all over the country to serve at the four large military bases in Orange County. Several of the large houses in French Park were spacious enough to be divided into apartments for the families of these young men. Many of the original owners had died and their children were established elsewhere. The conversion of these historic homes to rooming houses and apartments, coupled with absentee landlord owners, began a period of neighborhood decline. Some of the great Victorians, including the house of C.E. French, were torn down and replaced by large parking lots, apartment complexes and condominiums. One that survived, the Dr. Howe-Waffle House, was moved to the corner of Civic Center Drive and Sycamore Street to be restored.
The movement to preserve and restore the Historic French Park neighborhood began in the late 1970s. A new group of people with an appreciation for old houses began to move into the neighborhood. They organized the Historic French Park Association in 1979 with the goal of working together to solve problems and enhance the historical features of the remaining original buildings. In a positive step toward preservation of the area, the association began working with the city of Santa Ana to create the French Park Historic District. The district was formally established by the City Council in 1984.
On May 12, 1999, Historic French Park was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration occurs house-by-house while the Association works diligently with city, state and federal officials to recapture the neighborhood's former glory. During this process, as the city of Santa Ana does its part to implement urban renewal projects in and around downtown, Historic French Park is attracting new residents who value its historic character and unique urban lifestyle.
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About Historic French Park Neighborhood Association
In 1979, at a time when redevelopment was seen as a way toward prosperity for Santa Ana, French Park was the first among 57 neighborhoods to form an association, which paved the way for all the other associations that have followed. Urban pressures on our community of old houses demanded organized community response via the Historic French Park Neighborhood Association.
The Association is the neighborhood's representative to the city of Santa Ana. It serves as an advisory board to the City's Planning Commission, Planning and Building Agency, Community Development Agency, and represents neighborhood issues to the City Council. The Association sponsors events for city and neighborhood enrichment. The park at the neighborhood's core serves as a backdrop for historic home tours, jazz festivals, and other cultural and arts programs sponsored by the Association. Several member-run committees inform the association's advocacy. Current committees include Traffic, Architectural Review and Home Tour.
The Historic French Park Neighborhood Association has embraced projects that sought a home here over the years. We house Emmanuel House, the first AIDS hospice in all of Orange County, and The Villa, a facility for women recovering from substance abuse. We are proud of our neighborhood and its inclusiveness.
HFPNA membership is open to any person over the age of 18 years who lives, works, or owns property in Historic French Park. Elected board members and members-at-large convene regularly to address neighborhood issues and plan events as set forth in the HFPNA bylaws. Board members are distinguished from members-at-large by the ability to vote on agenda items.