Monday, April 30, 2012

Disneyland Closes Carnation Plaza Gardens

This weekend Disneyland bid farewell to an important piece of its history. Since 1958, the popular red and white striped pavilion known as Carnation Plaza Gardens has been the place to go for live musical talent of all kinds.  Summertime evenings at the Plaza, aglow with shimmering lights, felt like a "night on the town", with toddlers, teenagers, parents and grandparents whirling together on the dance floor.  There are few spots like it in America today that can capture the same atmosphere for such a diverse and ever-changing audience.
The Disneyland Date Niters, featuring the bouncy, danceable rhythms
of the Elliott Brothers, were the star attraction during the early years.
The roster of talent that came to Anaheim to perform on the Plaza stage over the years was impressive. Big bands and jazz giants such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Louis Armstrong, and Tex Beneke performed here, as well as the legions of 'unkown' talent, school children, student choirs and performers.  Everything from barbershop quartets to electric guitar have been heard in Plaza Gardens.





Walt Disney and his wife Lillian swing dance in Anaheim,
 June 1958.
This past Saturday night, April 28, 2012, the Plaza Garden pavilion was overflowing with nostalgia as throngs of people crossed the quaint footbridges, passed under the familiar arched sign, twinkling with lights, to savor a final dance beneath the red and white canopy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Anaheim's First Skyscraper: The Kraemer Building

Do you recognize this gentleman?  Perhaps not.  This is Anaheim resident Samuel Kraemer, who dug up oil on his property in 1919 and became one of the richest men in Southern California.  Kraemer invested his wealth in developing much of our downtown during the 1920s, including his six-story American Savings Bank of Anaheim --today known as the Kraemer Building.

The Samuel Kraemer Building in 1925 and today.
Designed by local architect M. Eugene Durfee, it was built at the same time that Charles C. Chapman was erecting his "skyscraper" in nearby Fullerton.  When Kraemer heard that the Chapman building was going to be five stories, he had Durfee add an additional story and a penthouse so his building would be the tallest in Orange County.  It remained so for over four decades!

Now... brace yourself for a shock.  Do you recognize the building in the photo below??

It's our very same Samuel Kraemer Building in 1976!  Woah, what happened here?  Well, in the 1970s old buildings such as the Kraemer were viewed as, well... old.  Anaheim's city leaders were redeveloping downtown, and though the Kraemer was spared the wrecking ball, the facade was covered with stucco and metal to give it a more 'attractive modern appearance.'  If you need to stop reading for a moment and get yourself an Alka-Seltzer, go right ahead.  We'll wait here for you.

Alright!  Flash forward to 2003, and the Kraemer building is meticulously restored to its original splendor by a team under the leadership of Preservation Architect Jim Wilson.

The Kraemer Building's restorer, architect Jim Wilson (right) with Greg Gerovac of the Anaheim Historical Society.

Last week, the Anaheim Historical Society presented "An Evening at the Kraemer" to celebrate the historical significance and distinctive character of our city's last example of the 1920s building boom.  For AHS members, it was chance to view the Kraemer's  restored grand lobby, with its opulent ceiling.

The original plaster hibiscus-pattern was restored from a small section that had been hidden above the 1970s false ceiling.  It is stunning!

Next time you go downtown, be sure to stop by and admire one of Anaheim's historic treasures.

The Kraemer Building is located at 201 E. Center Street -- a block east of Anaheim Blvd.

AHS artist Jody Daily has created a beautiful, limited edition print capturing the architectural romance of Anaheim's past.   The image titled "An Evening at the Kraemer" is available as a deluxe art print for $25, or matted and framed on demand for $150.  All sales benefit the AHS's educational and preservation efforts.  Contact us at

Friday, April 20, 2012

Calling All History Lovers!

We need volunteers to help us organize our AHS files in the Anaheim History Room.  Our files go back to 1970, when AHS was first organized, and we need to get everything in order! Would you be willing to spend a few hours per week assisting in the organization of our files? With a team in hand, we could work together to recapture the highlights and history of our own important impact on the role of AHS in Anaheim's history.

Call Phyllis Mueller, Historian Board member, at 714 502-9204 or email her at

The Anaheim Heritage Center is located at The MUZEO
241 S Anaheim Blvd. Anaheim, CA 92805

Volunteers Needed for the Anaheim Historic Home Tour

Excitement is growing for the upcoming Historic Home Tour on Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27, sponsored by ANA (Anaheim Neighborhood Association) and assisted at Founder's Park by the Anaheim Historical Society. We need volunteers and hope that some of you would consider filling a docent slot for only about 3 hours on either or both days for one of the three buildings at the new Founders’ Park on North West Street:

· Mother Colony House
· Woelke-Stoffel House
· Carriage House with agricultural history exhibit

It's easy and fun. You stand at the door or in a room with a script and when visitors come through, answer any questions they may have. That's it! 

Here is the schedule:
· Saturday May 26, 9:45 am to 12:45 pm or 12:15 to 3:15 pm
· Sunday May 27, 9:45 am to 12:45 pm or 12:15 to 3:15 pm.

Please let us know your time preference and which house you would like to be a docent for.
Bonus: if you volunteer to be a docent, you will receive a FREE ticket to the other places on the tour, including the Anaheim Brewery (but you'll need to buy your own beer...)!

Thanks for your consideration,

Phyllis Mueller  714 502-9204    AHS Historian Board member and member of ANA
Jane Newell       714-765-6453    Anaheim Historical Society,  Anaheim History Room

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Evening at the KRAEMER!


Don't miss this very rare opportunity to step inside one of Anaheim's original downtown iconic buildings. Enjoy light refreshments and brief presentations inside the beautiful lobby of the Kraemer Building, and learn about our historic Downtown and its current revitalization. Due to capacity, this event is limited to Anaheim Historical Society members only. (Quick, become a member today!)

Contact us at or call us at 714-470-1839 to reserve your spot. Admission is free, to AHS members only.

The Kraemer Building is located at 201 East Center Street in Downtown Anaheim.