Adeline Walker

Adeline was born on July 10, 1904, the daughter of Edward Cochems and Emma Glaser.

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Part 2

by Roberta Reed

In hindsight, some 30 years later, it seemed so simple. The Dr. Howe-Waffle house, both historically and architecturally significant, sat in the middle of the right of way for the widening of what would become Civic Center Drive. Of course, the house should be saved from demolition. So if it couldn't remain where it was, it should be moved. It was that simple. Or was it? As far back as 1968, plans were in process for the creation of Civic Center Drive in the area of Seventh and Eighth Streets in Santa Ana. The Dr. Howe-Waffle House, sitting at Seventh and Bush Streets, was threatened by this project from the beginning. Apparently the planners of the street project were unaware of the significance of the house, and those that were aware of its significance were unaware of the proposed street project.

Late in 1973, Mrs. Adeline Cochems Walker, an active member of the group LISA (Let's Improve Santa Ana) learned of the proposed route and the implications to the Dr. Howe-Waffle House. By this time, the city had already purchased a significant portion of the right of way for this project, including the Dr. Howe-Waffle House, and had plans for its demolition. Mrs. Walker was quite surprised that city staff and officials were unaware of the significance of the house, particularly since a photo of it had hung in city hall for many years. It is also interesting to note that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project did not adequately review the Dr. Howe-Waffle House and had the house not been saved through other means, there likely would have been a legal challenge to the EIS to stop the demolition.

At a city council meeting on March 18, 1974, the fledgling group of preservationists, now known as the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society (Mrs. Walker noted at the time that while there were other historic organizations, this was the first historic preservation group in Orange County) asked the Council to hold off on demolition to allow for additional time to continue the efforts to save and preserve the house. At that meeting, Council voted to allow the historical society to do just that. Working 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.

In the end, the hospital failed to follow through with any interest in the house beyond its initial letter.  This act did, however, have the effect of preventing the Society from being able to complete much in the way of preservation or fundraising efforts for nearly six months while the city tried to make up its mind about what to do with the house. On September 17, 1974, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the idea of a Heritage Square concept and agreed to provide land across the street from the Old Orange County Courthouse for the relocation of the Dr. Howe-Waffle House.  This apparently helped to convince the city to save the house, although additional work was necessary to convince them that the Carriage Barn also belonging to the doctor was also worthy of saving.

In spite of a year long battle filled with discouragement, Adeline Walker and her group of preservationists refused to give up (and no doubt sometimes they wanted to). Finally, the first stage of their hard work and efforts was realized when during the night of March 27-28, 1975, the Dr. Howe-Waffle House was moved to its new home at the corner of Sycamore and what would become Civic Center Drive.  The Carriage Barn followed it on Saturday, March 29.  Perhaps somewhat prophetically, the next day, Sunday, March 30, was Easter.

Part 3

by Roberta Reed

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 retirement.

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!"

Royal Spurrier.

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. Working 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.

The 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!

Bill Cox

 

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.

The Saving of A House - The Beginning of A Society

A series of three articles written to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.

Part 1

by Guy Ball

In October of 1973, the Santa Ana Register reported "Progress Threatens Historic OC Home." The article spoke of the City of Santa Ana's plans to widen what was then Seventh Street to make it part of Civic Center Dr., East. In order to do that, the plans included the demolishing of an aging, two-story Victorian-style manse built in the same year Orange County separated from Los Angeles County, 1889. The 12-room home was built for Drs. Alvin and Willella Howe and was situated in what as termed the "Nob Hill" section of town. In that same Register article, a member of the city cultural heritage committee lamented that too few of these pre‑1900 homes were still left.  This committee member, Adeline Walker, noted that recently another home in the area came down without a murmur from anyone. Adeline would soon take this challenge to heart.  She, her friend Betty Biner, and a few others formed the Friends of the Waffle House which later would become the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.  For the next year, these ladies worked relentlessly to enlist volunteers and donors in their fight to save the house.  They spoke to whoever might help politicians, businessmen, architects, historians, everyday citizens.

With a city government that was at times working with them but often working against them, they fought difficult odds to save the house from demolition and eventually convinced the city fathers to help them preserve this piece of Santa Ana history.  The City furnished the money to move the house to its current location at Sycamore and Civic Center Dr. West, on the condition that the Society pay for a foundation and to restore the house.

 

Adeline and friends raised the thousands of dollars and received thousands of hours of donated time and work from residents, businesses, and unions. The Society had succeeded in saving this beautiful old home for the benefit of those in the future who would enjoy looking back at a different time, at a different lifestyle.

Contact

Phone: 714-547-9645

Email: webmaster@sahps.org

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