The Kellogg House
by Diann Marsh, from Eye on Santa Ana, Spring 1991
Hiram Clay Kellogg loved wooden sailing ships. He designed the three-story-high circular staircase that is the centerpiece of the elegant Kellogg House to reflect many of the design elements and carvings of the ships that sailed the seas in 1898, when the house was built. It was termed one of the finest Neo-classical Victorian homes in Orange County.
Kellogg designed and built the house for his second wife, Helen, and their first child, Helen. Helen and Hiram were married in 1895 and began to plan their new home, to be located at the corner of Orange and Walnut, in a fashionable area of Santa Ana. Each detail received special attention, including the paintings of fruit on the dining room ceiling and flowers on the parlor ceiling.
By 1903, the family now included Leonard Frank (born in 1899), Hiram Clay Jr. (1900), and Rose Oahu (1903). A photograph on the wall in the upstairs hall of the house shows four beautifully-dressed blonde children, posing for their formal portrait.
Hiram Clay Kellogg was a native Californian born in 1855 in Napa County. He moved with his family to a ranch south of Anaheim in May of 1869. He was the oldest of the nine children of Benjamin and Mary Kellogg, pioneers from the East Coast. After graduating from Wilson College in Wilmington in 1879 with a degree in civil engineering, Hiram took contracts to set out vineyards in Anaheim, Placentia, and Pasadena.
In 1883 he received a contract to survey and lay out the entire town site of Elsinore. A few years later, he surveyed the town site of Corona. He was very involved in the water and irrigation fields and for ten years served as Chief Engineer for the Anaheim Union Water Company.
His fame spread throughout the southwest, and in 1893 he became the construction engineer for the dam at Gila Bend in Arizona. Back in Orange County in 1894, he was elected as County Surveyor. In the early 1900's, he was traveling again, this time to the Sandwich Islands as Chief Engineer.
The Kellogg family today has many fond memories of the house, which they owned until 1980. A nephew, Ralph Michaelson, tells of the year he lived with the Kelloggs. He was in first grade at the time and remembers the house and its abundance of nooks and crannies full of exciting things.
How he loved to explore the house! There was the frame of a canoe in the basement that his Uncle Frank had built. There was a go-cart called the "Irish Mail" that was propelled by a hand lever. A pair of cast concrete bears, which flanked the front steps, were lots of fun to ride upon. There was a player piano on which Aunt Rose used to play such tunes as "Let the Rest of the World Go By," while the family joined in.
To Ralph's young eyes, the house seemed huge. There was a little room at the top of the stairs that to him seemed like a giant tower. Ralph especially remembers the end of the day, when Grandfather Kellogg would return from work to give him a big hug. Hiram died in 1921, at the age of 66. Helen survived him and lived until 1963, when she was 93 years old.
When the house and lot were to be sold in 1980, members of the community, who loved the house and recognized its value, made arrangements with the Santa Ana Unified School District to move the house to the present site on West Harvard where it is used as a teaching site for young people to learn about the past.
Today the Kellogg House is decorated and furnished in authentic Victorian decor. Little has been changed of the basic floor plan, central stairway, elaborate woodwork, and Neo-classical exterior. Viewing the interior of the house is like stepping back in time to the turn of the century. The double parlor, oval dining room, kitchen, bath, and bedrooms feature authentic antiques--many hands-on Victorian artifacts.
The Kellogg House and the Heritage Museum of Orange County* are located at 3101 w. Harvard St., off Fairview, south of Centennial Park. They are open for self-guided tours Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are open seven days a week for reserved group tours. Call (714) 540-0404 for additional information.
(*Editor's note: this is the museum's current name. In the original article, the museum was the Discovery Museum)