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Best Historical Sights and Landmarks in Santa Ana

8 Best Historical Sights and Landmarks in Santa Ana (2024)

The City of Santa Ana is home to a great assortment of historical buildings, architectural styles, and noteworthy landmarks. Beginning from the core of the city to the outskirt regions, this Orange county location has quite a few landmarks from the past which are definitely visit-worthy. All those amazing and interactive historical sites here in the city provide a great learning resource about Orange County and Santa Ana long lost past.

For History lovers and educational wonderers, Santa Ana offers some great landmarks to stop at, like Old Courthouse at the city center or the Civic center housing all important offices, or the Fairhaven Memorial Park Mortuary that speaks its own story. Considering your time and interest, you can stop at any of these Historical Landmarks when in Santa Ana. To know more, have a look at our list of 8 Best Historic Sights and Landmarks in Santa Ana.

8 Best Historical Sights and Landmarks in Santa Ana

1. The Old Orange County Courthouse

Noted as the most popular Historical landmark in Santa Ana, the Old Orange County Courthouse dates back to the year 1901. It is an old Romanesque Revival building and is also known as the Oldest Court building in Southern California. The Courthouse is located in the historic downtown district of the city and thus draws considerable history lovers all throughout the year. Earlier functional as a courthouse, the building now is turned into a museum which is operational Monday to Friday with free admissions. This 30,000-square-foot courthouse building has been a witness of several events that were then shaping present-day Orange County.

While Exploring the site, you can find several pictures, documentations, and old-day setup relating to local and regional history. It is one of the favorable shooting locations for the film and television industry, and you would have had a glimpse of the site in the American Horror Story: Asylum. Also, the best part is that the Courthouse is quite near to the other popular attractions in Santa Ana, and one can make a day by covering all the nearby.

2. Heritage Museum

Heritage Museum, which is also known as old H. Clay Kellogg House is one peaceful site recreated and renovates to display the gracious past of the city of Santa Ana. The Museum dates back its story to the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The 12 acres tranquil location constitutes an extensive historic garden (citrus groves and jasmine garden) and several other old buildings. Among all that lies the center piece, the Kellogg House museum, a two-storeyed Victorian-style building immensely famous amongst the locals, especially groups of students and teachers.

Apart from the museum building, the site holds another great importance for its extensive gardens with jasmine-covered walkways, rose beds, and lush orange trees. A walk here replicates the old-time onto a county estate and is surely peaceful than the city’s loud life. The old H. Clay Kellogg House is hands down a historical enrichment, and the locals of South California often visit here to celebrate weddings and receptions as well.

3. Grand Central Art Center

The Grand Central is a 45,000 square-foot historic building in Santa Ana that dates back to the year 1924. It is located about 10 miles from the Santa Ana Downtown and is a blend of a commercial, educational, and residential complex. The building earlier was home to independent grocers, produce vendors, butchers, residential apartments, and basically a central market for Orange County. However, today it houses several different avenues from galleries to coffees and studious. Of what you can explore here constitutes of Main Gallery, Project Room, Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble, the Wayward Artist, living/studio, education/Teaching Gallery, Gypsy Den Café, Hipcooks, Claudia de la Cruz Flamenco Institute, and the Grand Central Theatre.

 Top Historical Sight in Santa Ana-Grand Central Art Center

Image Source Photo Courtesy Joe Wolf

The Grand Central Art Center today holds three architectural awards and has been organizing an artist-in-residence program every year. It is in partnership with the California State University and thus invited three global artists every year to stay at the center for a few months and work in the development of art and architecture.

4. Santa Ana Cathedral

The Santa Ana Cathedral or The Cathedral of Our Lady Saint Anne is one of the most prominent historical landmarks in Santa Ana and Orange County. It is a neo-Gothic cathedral and was built during the early years of the 1900s. The Cathedral is immensely beautiful and is jeweled in a beautiful gothic décor with Spanish Inspired architecture around. The building is formed by three naves, and one can find manually activated three bells at the north tower and three electronically activated bells on the South tower. The bells at the South tower were imported from the Netherlands during the mid of 1900s. The entire Cathedral building has a total of 118 benches, 51 lamps, 4 confessors, 28 images/ status, and a few artifact belongings from the past.

Another story about the Cathedral location brings even a deeper past, which states that today Santa Ana Cathedral was once a 15th-century central parish. The Parish building strongly served from the 15th century to the 19th century; however, lastly was destroyed by a lighting effect and thus was transformed into the present-day Cathedral.

5. Old Town Tustin

Tustin is a small town right next to Santa Ana, having not more than a distance of 5 to 7 minutes from the city. It is one great place for explorers who are keen to cover Orange County’s village lifestyle, real estate, and historic buildings. The heart and soul of Old Town Tustin are all Vintage and historical, and the rich past here takes you back to the late 1800s. The Tustin Town itself is centered around several historic buildings, specifically on Main Street and El Camino Real. These buildings include the Tustin Presbyterian Church and school structure, an old blacksmith shop, an old and small marketplace, and a commercial building. Some of the notable sites one should cover are the Stevens House, Leihy House, Leinburger House, Rock House, Pankey Residence, Vance House, Hewes House, and Knights of Pythias Building. 

While walking down the lanes of historic Tustin, you will come across several unique architectural styles from California Monterey, Craftsman bungalow, Victorian Eastlake, Italianate, to Italian Romanesque. Apart from history, there are several visit-worthy coffee shops, cafes, boutiques as well.

6. Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum

The Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum dated back to the late 1800s and served as the residence to the first female physician in Orange County, Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle. It is a beautiful Queen Anne style Victorian home designed into two and a half stories and 12 rooms. Today the entire Museum has been set up supremely well to make it replicate what Dr. Willella actually left it as. Her early operational office has been kept as it is to preserve her work and efforts towards the medicinal Society of Orange County.

Howe-Waffle House might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but medical professionals, students, and history seekers pay special interest here, and thus, the operational days are quite packed with admirers. The Museum is operational only 12 times a year, during the first Saturday of every month, and you can find Historical Society dressed up individuals around. Visitors are also served cookies and tea in more than a century-old bone china dishes.

7. La Calle Cuatro

The Historic 4th Street of Santa Ana which is also known for its famous Spanish reference, La Calle Cuatro, is not just a historic building but a small-town side on its own. The Street stretches from the Civic Center, East to West from Grand Ave, and goes until Sasscer Park, in the downtown of the city. The entire Street is lined with several historic buildings, cafes, craft breweries, bars, jewelers, theatres, concert halls, and barbershops. Some notable historic buildings here include the Rankin Building, Frida Cinema, the refurbished Yost Theatre, and a few others, which today are renovated for present-day usage.

Historic 4th Street today has been flourished into an LGBT+ cultural and entertainment hub and thus is quite famous amongst members of the community. It also hosts the annual Orange County Pride Festival and a few other notable annual events frequently throughout the year. Santa Ana is one of the very first settlements for Orange County, and La Calle Cuatro plays an important role in its development and flourishment.

8. Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary

A Memorial Park in Santa Ana, the Fairhaven Mortuary is a notable crematory ground in the city that thoughtfully navigates the locals to the funeral, cremation, and burial choices. This peaceful site was founded during the year 1911 by Horatio Forgy and other local businessmen of Orange County and then was established as a Memorial Park rather than a cemetery so that the locals of Santa Ana can visit here and enjoy the tranquil solitude mature shade trees, and expensive green lawns. However, during the ending phase of construction, a cemetery as well was installed in the memorial park.

Fairhaven Mortuary is the very first cemetery in Orange County and also the final resting place of various founding families of the County and Santa Ana. It also got its share of reorganization from the famous Hollywood film The Ten Commandments. This 73-acre park and mortuary are open for visitors all throughout the year, and you can find a lot of bird watchers and evening strollers enjoying their time here.

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