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A Hoedown for History

September 22, 1998|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Sunset Serenade II, a hoedown staged by the Irvine Historical Society to cele- brate Irvine's early days, when ranch hands chased cattle over the undeveloped hills. Sunday's gala was held at the city's historic San Joaquin Duck Club and benefited the Irvine His- torical Museum.

Back to the past: Built in the 1920s, the San Joaquin Duck Club was one of hundreds of local gathering spots where hunters would hang out before and after duck shoots. "When the Irvine Ranch Water District took over the property, there were ducks [living] inside the building," said Gail Daniels, event chairwoman and president of the Irvine Historical Society. "Now it's all cleaned up, with beautiful wood floors and a stone fireplace." The club still has an unspoiled view of the local marshland, and the 85 guests watched the sunset while line-dancing to the Tim and Maddy Cronin band and enjoying grilled tri-tip served from a chuck wagon. "People like coming here because of the setting. It's the best place to see a sunset in Irvine. You feel you're in the middle of nowhere," Daniels said.

Holding on to history: The Irvine Historical Society has worked to preserve old buildings once destined for the wrecking ball. With the help of honoree Robert Smith, who received the society's Ranch Hand of the Year award, the preservationists rescued a cluster of century-old warehouses and developed them into Old Town Irvine.

Bottom line: The hoedown was expected to net $2,000 for the museum, which occupies an 1877 ranch building. Funds will be used for operating expenses and to rehabilitate four historic wagons once used on the Irvine Ranch.

Quote: "Everyone here is from someplace else," said Judy Liebeck, historical curator of the museum. "It's extremely important that [the museum] exists, so their children don't think their history is that of just a master-planned community."

Faces: Honoree Robert Smith attended with his wife, Carmen, and son Adam. Other guests: Judy Gauntt, museum curator; Peer and Nancy Swan; Lansing and Lura Eberling; and Richard and Sue Ann Schappert.

What's Ahead: The Irvine Historical Society will have a booth featuring exhibits of the city's past at the Irvine Harvest Festival. The festival will be held Oct. 2-4, at the field next to the civic center at Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue. (949) 786-4112.

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