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BEST BET : A Historic Place for Today

September 23, 1990|MIKE RAMOS

See how the early Californians lived. Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs offers a variety of historical experiences for the entire family.

The centerpiece of the six-acre park is the reconstruction of a Victorian estate built by a farmer from Missouri, Harvay Hawkins, in 1880 and burned down in 1941. Carefully reconstructed Carpenter Gothic-style ranch buildings in the park include a tank house, windmill and a carriage barn. The carriage barn, the largest building in the park, has been converted into a history museum geared especially for children.

The park includes formal gardens and a renovated aviary. Estates during the late 1800s were filled with collections of exotic trees and plants including dwarf periwinkle, star jasmine, Spanish dagger, Italian cypress, Oriental arborvitae and lily of the Nile.

Built in the late 1920s, the aviary once held exotic birds from Java, Africa and the American Southwest. The aviary is now home to a variety of cockatoos, parakeets, finches, pheasants and doves.

Heritage Park showcases the adobe estate of Don Patriciao Ontiveros, major-domo of San Juan Capistrano Mission. All that remains is the cobblestone foundation of the house and an archeological trash pit displaying items used 175 years ago, such as china, utensils, farm equipment and work tools. The estate was built 75 years before Hawkins built his homestead.

Heritage Park offers tours for adults and children led by trained docents and features hands-on activities displaying the lifestyles and ideas of the past. Tours last about one hour and must be scheduled in advance.

Heritage Park is at 12100 Mora Drive, Santa Fe Springs. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The carriage barn is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Admission is free. For more information, call 946-6476.

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