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Orange County Focus

BUENA PARK : Group Hopes 2 Old Homes Are Preserved

June 02, 1993|DEBRA CANO

The Whitaker-Jaynes house and the Bacon house are the last standing relics that tell about Buena Park's past.

Dean Dixon, a trustee of the Buena Park Historical Society, calls these homes, built in the mid- to late 1800s, "the last of the Mohicans."

Dixon said it makes him "nervous" that the city owns the homes and property.

The homes "are vulnerable to any decisions that the city would want to make," he said. "Unless the city registers them, they cannot become protected from being moved or from demolition."

The homes are at Whitaker-Jaynes Estate Park on Manchester Boulevard near Beach Boulevard, next to the Santa Ana Freeway. There is vacant land on each side of the park, which is owned by the city's Redevelopment Agency.

The city bought and restored the Whitaker-Jaynes home in the late 1960s.

In 1976, the Bacon family donated to the city the small, simple house with a loft. The residence was moved to the park from its original location on Beach Boulevard.

And if the historical society has its way, the two homes will always serve as a reminder of the city's past.

Dixon said preserving these homes gives the community a sense of history and permanence.

"It's a way of connecting with the past," said Dixon, 47, who moved to Buena Park in 1975. "I personally need that to feel at home and to feel that I belong in the community."

Roberta Knisley, the historical society curator who gives public tours of the homes, said that keeping the city's heritage through preserving the homes, as well as showing guests the lifestyle of the times, is one way to make history come alive.

Inside the Whitaker-Jaynes house, guests get a rare look at family heirlooms and donated antiques and memorabilia from the turn-of-the-century.

The Bacon house is a rare example of a home in which the exterior and the interior walls are the same and the studs and beam ceilings are exposed, Dixon said. The clapboard house is the oldest standing home in Buena Park, built sometime in the mid-1800s.

The Whitaker-Jaynes house, built in 1887, is thus named because of the two families that once lived in the stately two-story home with an expansive front porch. After Andrew Whitaker, whose brother founded the city, died in 1903, the house was sold to Isaac D. Jaynes, a rancher and fruit grower. The Jaynes family lived there until it was sold to the city.

The house is furnished with period furniture, such as a recliner made in 1850, a hot chocolate set once used by the Whitakers, and a wedding photograph of Jaynes and his wife, Edna, trimmed in embroidered flowers. Upstairs are a collection of donated china and silver from the early 1900s and a Victorian Renaissance-era walnut headboard with burlwood insets and hand carvings, donated by the Walter Knott family.

The homes are open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. the second Sunday of the month. Special tours may also be arranged by calling (714) 522-2788.

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