book review: Living Homes
Todd Exter

neighborhood: Anaheim Colony


Unfortunately, many folks know Anaheim only as the home of Disneyland. However, the town has a distinguished architectural history and is one of the earliest and best-preserved collections of Arts & Crafts bungalows in Southern California. Resident Phyllis Mueller gives us this short history of the colony:

Anaheim was founded as a colony in 1857 when George Hansen purchased 1,165 acres of land on behalf of the Los Angeles Vineyard Society for the purpose of subdividing the land into vineyards and house lots. Its original boundaries were North, East, South, and West Streets. Anaheim’s wine industry flourished during the early years, but in 1885 the vines were stricken with disease, and the profitable wine industry was destroyed. Soon after, the enterprising colonists recovered by replacing the vineyards with orange groves, lemons, walnuts, and chili peppers.

Anaheim’s neighborhoods began to flourish, first with simply built cottages and later more elaborate housing that reflected the Victorian and Queen Ann styles of architecture. Colonial Revival housing was another architectural style built through the turn of the 19th century, followed by the simple austere design of the Mission Revival, which mimicked the California missions, and was best expressed in public buildings.

The Arts and Crafts movement took place in the early decades of the 1900s with Prairie-style homes and many Craftsman Bungalows, reflecting a more natural and horizontal design. Many Craftsman Bungalows were constructed in Anaheim during this period. In the 1920s, the Spanish eclectic style of housing, with its tile ornamentation, arches, and courtyards, became popular.  Fewer houses were built is the depression-era 1930s, but the French eclectic and English Tudor style of housing made their appearances, reflecting architectural styles seen by soldiers returning from overseas. In the mid-1930s and 1940s, the Ranch style homes – U or L shaped – were developed in the Colony.

Many varied and rich examples of historic architecture can be discovered when walking or driving through the Colony. These structures have an architectural legacy as well as the history of the people who once lived in them.

With the goal to preserve, protect and enhance the historic distinction of the Colony, the Anaheim Colony Historic District was established by the City Council on October 21, 1997, 140 years after Anaheim was founded. More than 1,100 structures are on the list of Qualified Historic Structures and are deemed “contributors” to the Historic District. These structures were chosen for the original architectural character of their period of significance and/or for the histories of the people who once lived there.

The benefits of forming a historic district are many: In addition to the honor of being in a historic district, it preserves neighborhood integrity, enhances property values, and gives a tangible link to the past, a way to bring meaning to history and to peoples’ lives.

Lots more information about the area and its history can be found on Mike Tucker's wonderful Anaheim Colony website, and take a look at our Anaheim Colony photo album for more images (we're always looking for submissions - email me your images for inclusion).