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A Walk Through Time

Home tour of historical Anaheim aims to lure fans of architecture and acquaint others with area.

April 11, 1998|DEBRA CANO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

North of Pearson Park in Anaheim are rows of historic houses with the charm and character of European and historic California architecture. These grand homes were built decades ago, many on streets named after the city's pioneers.

It is a quaint place of facades and interiors that revel in Craftsman, Spanish Colonial, French Normandy, bungalow and other distinct architectural styles of pre- and post-World War I. Many homeowners have carefully restored these jewels to their original conditions.

To give the public a slice of Anaheim's history and showcase these homes within the newly created Anaheim Colony Historic District, seven houses, including the city's oldest house, will be open for viewing during a home tour April 18.

During the walking tour of the Colony Historic District, sponsored by Anaheim Beautiful, visitors will stroll down the same area where 50 German families founded and settled in Anaheim in 1857. In October, the area of 1,100 homes and other structures of historic significance, bounded by North, South, East and West streets, was named a historic district.

"With the downtown torn down, most people don't think that there are any historic structures left," says Micky Caldwell, a member of Anaheim Beautiful, a nonprofit group aimed at beautifying the city. "But historic neighborhoods to the north and south are still intact."

Residents of the area have been working with the city for years to preserve both neighborhoods and historic houses--some built before 1900, others after the turn of the century through the 1940s.

Besides encouraging homeowners to restore their vintage houses, historic street lights--paid for with federal grant money--have been placed in some neighborhoods, with the most recent on three blocks of Zeyn Street. Curbs and sidewalks, also with federal grants, have been refurbished in some areas, while homeowners on other blocks eagerly await their turn.

Now that the historic district has been declared, the next step is to develop a preservation plan that would serve as a voluntary guide to homeowners who want to make improvements to their aged homes, says Phyllis Mueller, the city's neighborhood development coordinator.

The guidelines are to assist property owners in making renovations that are compatible with the architectural character of the home, Mueller says.

That plan is expected to be considered for adoption by the City Council sometime this summer. In addition, distinct signs and monuments at major streets and at the four corners of the historic district will soon be put up to identify the area.

The tour is not only aimed at purists with a reverence for architectural styles of years past. It's a way to acquaint others about central Anaheim's history and introduce them to an area that is a nice place to live, says Caldwell, who lives in a 1912 Mission Revival home.

Proceeds from the home tour will go toward buying a mobile color lab. The computerized lab matches paint to cover graffiti. The mobile lab will serve to keep Anaheim's original colony graffiti-free as well as the rest of the community, Caldwell says.

Tickets are $12 a person, available the day of the event.

The self-guided tours begin at 10 a.m., with the last tickets sold at 3 p.m., at Pearson Park, on the corner of Lemon and Sycamore streets.

Homes on tour are on Lemon, Clementine and Zeyn streets. At the end of the walking tour, visitors interested in taking a look inside the Mother Colony House--the first home built in Anaheim in 1857 by George Hansen, who helped the German immigrants--and the Queen Anne-style Red Cross House, built in 1894, can drive a short distance to West Street.

Visitors can also view the sprawling Moreton Bay fig tree, which inspired Disneyland's Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, next door to the Mother Colony House.

Historic vehicles will also be on display at the park and streets.

Tickets and information: (714) 774-0346. Information on the historic district: The Historic Anaheim Web page, http://users.deltanet.com/~mrt/

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Colony Stroll

A walking tour of the Anaheim Colony Historic District will highlight seven of the city's older, unique homes. Included in the tour are the Mother Colony House, the oldest home in the city, built in 1857, and the Red Cross House, which dates to 1894.

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