(Third of a series of articles
celebrating our 30th anniversary)
By Roberta Reed
Article> <Second Article>
In 1974 Mrs. Adeline
Walker made the following statement: “Here in Southern California, we are
far from being history minded, and everything must be demolished. Some of
our older homes, many of them well cared for, give Santa Ana a distinction.
Surely we must keep at least one turn of the century home for posterity.”
We would like to say that
we have gotten wiser in the thirty years since Mrs. Walker made that
observation, but recent activities in our city seem to indicate otherwise.
We are continuing the fight, and we like to think that Mrs. Walker not only
would approve, but would be right along side with us, taking up arms in the
battle, so to speak. In the meantime, Mrs. Walker did indeed keep one
turn-of-the-century home for posterity, and it still amazes us how many
hours this remarkable woman put into restoring that home, scraping paint,
scraping up funding, and finding volunteers, all during a time in her life
when most people her age would have been basking in the relaxation of
In this article, we want
to highlight some of the people and organizations who worked to make the
Howe-Waffle House the restored beauty it is today, and some of the things
they accomplished during those early restoration years in the late ‘70s.
Royal Spurrier initially
became involved when his employer, Cherry Textron, appointed him as their
representative to the Santa Ana Bicentennial Committee. The Dr. Howe-Waffle
House later became a true labor of love for him and he spent many hours
working on it, finding sources for reproduction materials needed for the
restoration, and later served as President of the Santa Ana Historical
Preservation Society for several years. By the end of 1976, Mrs. Walker
wrote, “Mr. Spurrier had given about 125 hours of his time toward the
project, as well as the contribution of materials toward the restoration.
He even enrolled in a woodshop class in order to make batten boards for the
restoration of the carriage barn!”
Quaker Paint donated
paint for the restoration, and workers representing the Painter’s Local 686
donated time to do the actually work. Orange County Lumber Company provided
the lumber for the porches.
Jack MacFarlane of
MacFarlane Electric designed the wiring for the house, and Orange County
Wholesale Electric provided the materials. The International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers sent union electricians who donated time toward the
project. More than 100 hours were spent on wiring the Howe-Waffle House at
its current location.
under the assumption that the first battle had been won, the Society worked
hard to begin fundraising efforts to support the monumental project of
moving and fully restoring the Dr. Howe-Waffle house. Politics seemingly
interfered with these efforts when Historical Society President Betty Biner
stopped by Council Chambers on the night of the April 1, 1974 meeting to
pick up a copy of the minutes from the March 18th meeting and was
stunned to hear Council vote to reconsider its plans to give the house to
the Historical Society and instead consider an offer from Santa Ana
Community Hospital to relocate and restore the house. It is interesting to
note that many of the “plans” the hospital had for the house,
enthusiastically greeted by Council, actually largely mirrored those that
the Society had previously discussed. Sadly, it appeared that someone in
the city was not in favor of allowing the Society to restore the house, and
had actually approached the hospital with the idea of them restoring it.
Mrs. Walker noted that while the hospital was financially in a far better
position than the Historical Society, that it was not possible for them to
love the house more than the Society did.
Cal-Wal Gypsum Supply of
Orange provided drywall, which was subsequently installed by volunteer
apprentices from the Carpenter’s Local in Orange. Santa Ana Steel donated
angle iron to support ceiling beams that were weakened with the installation
of the fire sprinkler system.
John Acosta, a masonry
contractor who later became a Santa Ana City Councilman, faced the cement
block foundation on the house and carriage barn river rock which was
supplied by R. J. Noble Company. The Boy Scouts and the Santa Ana Boys Club
assisted with this project.
Girl Scouts scraped paint
from the exterior of the house, as did students from Chapman College and
Fountain Valley High School.
Carpenter Carl Van
Couvering built steps for a temporary entrance to the house, among many
other restoration carpentry projects. Max Becker built the front porch
foundation and made window screens, and later built the wonderful gazebo
that we enjoy in the backyard of the house. Don Cribb, now involved in the
arts movement in Santa Ana, donated four eucalyptus trees.
speaking tube that fascinates both adults and children alike during our
tours was originally installed by Dr. Alvin Howe. It was discovered and
restored by electrician Bill Cox, who recognized what it was. Many other
volunteers might not have, and this wonderful piece of history might have
been lost had it not been for Bill!
This article highlights only a few of the
people who were part of saving and restoring the Howe-Waffle House. It is
certainly not meant to be all –inclusive. There were many other people who
donated time, materials, or funds, or even all three, toward the restoration
of the house. We are grateful to all of them, because every one contributed
in some way to saving the heritage of our city, both for us, and for
generations to come.