Floral Park, Santa Ana
The central Orange County area that eventually became Santa Ana was covered with yellow mustard weed and Sycamore trees when William H. Spurgeon from Kentucky rode through on horseback in 1869. He liked what he saw and paid $595 for the 75 acres that were to become his city. The land had been part of the vast Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana as many was true with most early townsites.
Spurgeon operated a general store and by the time the city incorporated 1886 the population had grown to 2,000 residents. In order to improve access to the burgeoning settlement of Anaheim, Spurgeon built a road through the mustard fields which also enabled the Wells Fargo stage to arrive with and passengers. Nearby, a man named Columbus Tustin was developing his own city and was competing with Spurgeon to bring the railroad to his town. The Santa Fe railroad ended up running a ine to Santa Ana and thus the course of history was altered to allow Santa Ana to boom while Tustin remained a sleepy agricultural town.
Santa Ana attracted an eclectic blend of culturally rich pioneers which resulted in the city gaining a library, opera house, two newspapers, and ultimately the Bowers Museum. Education was also important and the original school was built on the site of what is now the YMCA and by 1892 three boys who comprised the first graduating class of seniors finished their education.
With its rich cultural history, it’s small wonder that Santa Ana has always been the principal administrative and political center of Orange County. After several unsuccessful attempts to separate from Los Angeles County, Orange County was finally formed in 1889, and Santa Ana was chosen as the county seat. Shortly thereafter, the city paid $8,000 for the block of land that was to house the Orange County courthouse.
As the county seat, Santa Ana attracted the wealthiest of businessmen, politicians, and judges which resulted in the construction of a high end neighborhood where these people could live. Known now as Floral Park, the area is the finest collection of notable historic homes in Orange County with rows of immaculately maintained historic mansions lining the shady streets. Preservation efforts in Floral Park have been very successful and the city has taken measures to isolate the historic district from the rest of the city using creative road blocks which limit through-traffic.
Floral Park is considered to be one of the finest places to live and was even recognized on a national level as neighborhood of the year in 2005. Residents are conscious of the value of historic preservation and are generally very involved in neighborhood development efforts. This high standard keeps prices in the neighborhood quite high but there is no finer place for the historic home buyer to shop for a flagship historic property.
Santa Ana also has numerous smaller historic districts that offer buyers with a more modest budget the opportunity to find terrific historic property. Most notable is Wilshire Square where there are many bungalows and Tudor revivals on nice interior streets that sell for a third of what a comparable home in Floral Park would cost.