Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Place I Live: Founder’s Park

Take a tour of Founder’s Park for a trip back in time. Relive Anaheim’s past by visiting some of the city’s oldest buildings filled with relics and photographs. Knowledgeable docents dressed in period clothing greet visitors throughout the park and are available to answer questions along the way. From the South of the park visitors are greeted by the 130 year old Moreton Bay Fig tree. Walking through the park visitors pass a water pump, clothesline, grape vines and vegetable garden. Children can learn what 19th century life was like with hands on demonstrations in the park.

The Mother Colony House is one of the oldest wood framed buildings and is an example of a vineyard home from the mid 1800s. The plaque outside of the home reads that the home was built in 1857 by Mr. George Hansen who was the promoter for the colony of Germans that originally founded what is now Anaheim. In 1885 a grape disease destroyed the vineyards which led Anaheim into its citrus age. Along the way Polish actress Helena Modjeska lived in the Mother Colony House with Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz. The Friends of Libraries Literary Landmark reports that Sienkiewicz wrote Letters From a Journey (Lity z podrozy) and two short stories about Orange County called A Comedy of Errors and Orso: An American Hercules which is set in Anaheim.

Inside the small wooden house is a living room that doubles as a bedroom. There is a Murphy bed that when raised is a beautiful armoire complete with mirrors. There are cases filled with clothes of the time period, including very intricate dresses with lace and fabric buttons. One of the docents commented that the clothing was not washed regularly due to having to remove the buttons and other decorative pieces from the clothing to wash them and then be sown back on after dried. There is an addition to the house that includes a kitchen and washroom. There are lots of neat gadgets in the kitchen. My favorite is the metal piece that looks like an egg on a stick – be sure to guess what it might be then ask what it was used for. I bet you’ll be surprised.

North of the Mother Colony House is the Woelke-Stoffel House which was built in 1894 and is one of the last Queen Anne homes in Anaheim. The name of the home comes from the family who built the home (Woelke) and the last family to live in the house (Stoffel). The two story home shows beautiful architecture on the outside including a big porch out front. Inside there is much to look at; clothing of the period, furniture and fixtures, and historical photos.

Some changes were made to the home from 1953 until 2006 when the home was part of the American Red Cross Anaheim Chapter. Through fundraisers, the Anaheim Historical Society is helping to restore the Woelke-Stoffel House to its original condition. Earlier this month AHS reported the completion of the restoration in the entry hall, nook and stairway.

Behind the Woelke-Stoffel house is the Carriage House, Pump House and Windmill. The Carriage House features tools, crates and photos of Anaheim’s citrus boom. In the middle of the space is the vintage postal carriage that delivered much of Anaheim’s mail.  It was actually built by a postal carrier so he could do his job better. Outside is a small grove of oranges sitting under the Windmill.

Founder’s Park is all dressed up for the holidays so be sure to visit on the Saturday December 1st or 8th  from 9 AM to 12 noon. Tours are open the rest of the year on the first Saturday of the month.


  1. How awesome! I didn't know this place existed, so thank you for sharing!

  2. Come on back for another visit (first Saturday of every month from 9 am to noon or groups by appointment) we just received beautiful late Victorian era furnishings on loan from one of our very early families, and the Woelke-Stoffel house is being restaged as we get time. So the bedrooms look like real bedrooms! Also we are always on the lookout for docents to help (bilingual docents would be AWESOME) we have a lot of fun working together, and we will help pull together some period costuming for anyone who wants to come play.

    BTW-my apologies for the misinformation on the plaque at the MCH. I am afraid it was intended to say that Madame Modjeska and her family lived in Anaheim...but I suspect by the time the (decades ago) committee finished editing the plaque for space it ended up leaving folks with the impression they lived in the house itself. Her home was out where Lincoln and State College are today, and for a short time it appears they may also have lived on Olive Street, but I have not pinned down the exact location. Glad you enjoyed your visit, come on back, we are always changing things up to keep the exhibits fresh, and learning new info to share with our guests.


Thanks for stopping by and chatting!