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Main Street Branch Library: Part 3 -- Historic Buildings Around Town

Part Three -- Historic Buildings around Town

Photo # 9

The Newland House -- Nat'l Reg Hist. Places -- Built 1898

 The Newland House as it looked in 1948

The Newland House was built in 1898 by William Taylor Newland, and is located at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Adams Avenue, on what was then called Hampshire Avenue.  It has the distinction of being an official Orange County historical monument, specifically historical site #9.  The property began as an ancient campground for the Gabrieleno Indians, which later became part of a Spanish land grant.  When the Newlands purchased the property from Abel Stearns in 1897, the property was the site of a 500 acre ranch.  Upon completion of the house in 1898, William, his wife Mary and their children (eventually comprising 7 girls and 3 boys) moved into the Newland House.  The self-contained Newland House and Ranch featured vegetable gardens, orchards, milk cows, chickens, and bunk houses for the ranch hands, among many other things.  In addition to contributing their part in the form of agriculture, the Newlands were very active in many other aspects of their community as well.

  About William Taylor Newland:

Born in 1850 in Camp Point, Illinois.

  • Married Mary Juanita DeLapp in 1875.
  • Arrived in Huntington Beach in 1898, after having lived for several years in the Irvine Ranch area.
  • Founded the West Coast Land & Water Company with William Stanton, and worked to incorporate the town of Pacific City (formerly Shell Beach) in 1901.
  • In 1904, he sold his holdings in the company to investors in Los Angeles, who eventually convinced Henry Huntington to extend his “Red Car” train line to Pacific City.  Consequently, Pacific City was renamed Huntington Beach.
  • After helping to establish the Huntington Beach High School district, he served on the school board for 18 years.
  • His efforts on the Highway Commission, for which he served 12 years, resulted in the continuation of the Pacific Coast Highway along the Huntington Beach coastline.  He was also instrumental in establishing another highway than ran through the Santa Ana Canyon.
  • He started the first bank and the first newspaper in Huntington Beach.
  • He aided in establishing the first Methodist Church at 11th St. and Orange Ave.

About Mary Juanita DeLapp Newland:

 Born in 1859 in Jacksonville, Illinois

  • Raised a family of 10 children while helping run a ranch
  • Instrumental in establishing the first grammar school in town
  • Founded the first PTA in 1908
  • Served 16 years on the primary school board
  • Was a charter member of the Women’s Club
  • Named “Woman of the Year” in 1939
  • Began to collect various Indian artifacts unearthed during land plowing
  • Cataloged her collection of hand-woven baskets, purchased on her trips to Palm Springs, with the assistance of an Indian chief staying in her guest room.

Facts about the Newland House:

  • The Victorian-style house has two stories and 13 rooms:  five bedrooms, a sleeping porch (6), dining room (7), front parlor (8), breakfast room (9), kitchen (10), sun room (where Mrs. Newland kept her Indian basket collection, 11), Tower room (which she used as her sewing room, 12), and the back porch (13).
  • Many a famous visitor, including Mark Twain, stayed in the guest room, and the parlor was once used for an appendectomy.
  • The house was constructed by carpenters who were paid $2.50 per day.
  • Water came at first from a nearby natural spring until Mr. Newland drilled a well in the backyard and created a water tower.
  • Kerosene lamps provided the lighting, and cooking was done on a wood-burning stove.
  • The house and ranch survived the devastating flood of 1916, the destructive earthquake of 1933, and the stress of the Great Depression.
  • Now a museum, the house is open for tours a few times a week each month.

The Newland House as it looks today

Mr. Newland’s work in such a tremendous amount of areas benefiting the new and prospering city resulted in a long and productive life.  He died at the age of 83 in 1933, and his wife Mary took over running the ranch.  She continued a successful solo management until well into her eighties.  When she died in 1952 at the age of 93, she was still residing in her and William’s beloved white house.

Once being home to a family of pioneers in fields like education, business, and crop management, the Newland house continued to serve in various functions even after Mrs. Newland’s death.  For 20 years, it was owned by the Signal Oil Company, which used it to house some of their employees.  For 2 years, the building was owned by the city, and it stood vacant, enduring both vandalism and an upstairs fire that destroyed most of the roof.  When the city asked the Huntington Beach Historical Society to take possession, the Newland house was restored to its former Victorian style glory.  Today, it stands as a reminder of the fascinating era during which our wonderful city was born.

Photo # 10

The Bolsa Chica Wetlands -- 1300 Acre Tidal Habitat -- PCH at Seaport to Warner Avenue

The Bolsa Chica Wetlands are remnants of a once extensive wetland system that was formed by water flowing down from the Santa Ana River.  When the Gun Club was built in the early 1900's, tidal flow made for unfavorable hunting conditions.  Tom Talbert was then asked to  build a dam across the channel known as Freeman Creek.  For more information on the wetlands, visit

Photo # 11

View of the Gun Club on the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in the 1960's

The Bolsa Chica Gun Club was opened between 1895-1900 by a group of wealthy businessmen from Los Angeles and Pasadena on the southwest corner of the wetland property situated south of Warner Avenue and north of the East Garden Grove Channel.  In addition to catering to local duck-hunters, many politicians and celebrities such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were frequent visitors.  Membership fees were an initial $1000, in addition to with $60 in annual dues.  Some highlights of the gun club's history:

  • The two story club building featured a hunting lodge built from redwood and cedar.  Besides being a beautiful place for the rich to entertain themselves, the Gun Club is responsible for damming off Bolsa Chica from direct tidal flow to the ocean beginning in 1899.  It wasn’t until 2006 that an inlet to the Pacific Ocean was opened thanks to a preservation effort of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica.

As it looked shortly after its opening.

  • In 1910, Henry Okuda and his family, formerly of the Wintersburg site in Huntington Beach, moved onto the property and maintained the landscaping and kitchen gardens for over two decades.  The 1930 Census for Wintersburg Village included the Bolsa Chica area in its enumeration,  and Henry's occupation was listed as "Bolsa Chica Gun Club gardener".  The Historic Wintersburg location represents over a century of Japanese immigration to the U.S.
  • The Gun Club was a filming site of the 1930 movie “Sarah and Son”, featuring Fredric March.  This is some of the only remaining film footage of the structures that were once there.

A scene from the movie showing a car pulling up in front of the Gun Club


As it looked right after the 1933 earthquake.

  • In June 1939, members of the local Sunset Club visited the Gun Club and played horseshoes during one of their many outings.
  • In 1941, the property surrounding the Gun Club was taken over by the Army, in preparation for a possible attack by the Japanese in World War II.  The Army sent artillery units with antiaircraft guns to O.C. beaches, and one of them moved into the gun club’s buildings.  Construction of the Bolsa Chica batteries began on April 17, 1943.  Fortunately, in early 1944 it became evident that the threat of a Japanese attack had passed.  By 1948 the Army decided that the guns were no longer needed and the property was returned to the original owners.  The concrete bunkers were left empty and unused.  In 1995, the larger of the two bunkers was demolished.   The smaller support bunker still exists, but is closed off from public access. All that is left of the turrets are their circular frame.

After the end of the 1940’s, it became obvious that the club had already seen its best days.  Consequently, around 1964, it was closed.  Then, in the late 1960’s, the buildings were either torn down or burned, leaving little except for slabs of concrete and some rubble.

Photo # 15

The Golden Bear -- PCH and Main Street -- 1930's

The famous Golden Bear, formerly located on the corner of PCH and Main Street in Huntington Beach, was originally opened in the 1920’s as a Greek restaurant.  Starting in the 1960’s, however, it began to book music concerts and other acts as well.  The brick building with a large dining room and music hall was located at 306 Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Main Street.  The popular venue brought some of the best live entertainment the city has ever seen. In the 1960’s, it was instrumental in launching the careers of such rock legends as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.  During its rock heyday from 1974 to 1986, the music hall was host to many a talented performer, featuring local surf rock guitarist Dick Dale, Garden Grove native Steve Martin (seen below performing his King Tut act),

and established musicians such as John Denver, Linda Ronstadt and even Van Halen!  After it lost its lease in 1986, the aged building was sadly demolished by a wrecking ball to make room for downtown redevelopment.  The Bear was temporarily brought back to life in 1990 at the new Pierside Pavilion, with Eric Burden of the Animals and Robby Krieger of the Doors as opening acts.  However, in early 1991, noise issues, combined with a theater opening above it, unfortunately forced the Bear to close down again.

Chronology of the History of the Golden Bear with locations, owners and significant performers

  • 1923-1957 – Opened as a Greek restaurant by Harry Bakre, born in Greece in 1888.  On April 23, 1923, Harry opened the Golden Lion Cafe at 226 Main Street.  It was renamed the Golden Bear Cafe in 1926, and began serving French and Italian cuisine.  He moved his business to its long-time 306 Ocean Avenue location, and on June 29, 1929, the opening act featured a 10-piece orchestra playing in the Main Dining room.  In 1951, the doors of the Golden Bear Cafe were closed, due to Harry's failing health.  For the next five years, various short-lived occupied the building.
  • 1957-1963  -- Left vacant after Bakre's death in 1957.
  • 1963-1966 -- reopened on November 27, 1963 by Iowa-born Del Kauffman, who ran it  as a folk music club.  After changing the name to the Golden Bear, the first act they hosted was Les Baxter's Balladeers, featuring a young David Crosby.  Unfortunately, due to the untimely assassination of President Kennedy five days earlier, the turn-out was not as expected.
  • 1966-1974 – Re-opened by Greek immigrant George Nikis (born in 1926), and the opening act was Hoyt Axton, who would go on to write "Joy to the World" for Three Dog Night in 1970.  George later realized that acoustic folk was not the future of popular music, so he booked groups that played electric rock and roll.  His first such act was the Butterfield Blues Band.
  • 1974 – 1986 – Took over by Richard and Charles Babiracki, whose primary focus was booking veteran acts. His first act booked was Jimmy Witherspoon.  In 1979, he asked artist Robert Wyland to paint a mural of a rolling musical staff with notes and head-shots of popular musicians, like Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan, on the side of the exterior brick wall  During an era when music was undergoing many changes, the Golden Bear was eventually seen as a "backward-looking club in a forward-looking time".

  • 1986 – demolished by city officials for not meeting earthquake safety standards.  The last musician to perform at the original Golden Bear was Robin Trower, on January 30, 1986.

Photo # 16 -- Golden Bear, 1976 -- Coming Soon

This photo of the Golden Bear was taken around the same time as the photo featured in the Library Display.  The performers for the week in late October/ early November 1976 were as follows:

  • October 28  -- Pure Prairie League
  • October 30, 31 -- Bonnie Raitt
  • November 1-2 -- Steve Martin

Huntington Beach Public Library
7111 Talbert Ave. Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Phone 714-842-4481