Play Background

Drama Plays a Role in Saving the Plaza

On the original town site Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street dissected the Plaza, and the Plaza had not been laid out. Residents planted 2 or 3 dozen pepper trees on the outer edges of the square, and a horse trough was located at the intersection. After 1872 water was piped into the Plaza and people hauled water to their homes. Each flock of sheep had 30 minutes at the Plaza.
Orange, in the early 1880s was like many other small Southern California towns surrounded by agricultural areas. The summers were hot and dry; the roads were dusty. Tired of the dust raised in the well-traveled down town area, in 1883 a group of civic-minded women decided that the plaza land, donated by the city founders, should be developed into a park. The town's men weren't enthusiastic. It meant rerouting their buggies and wagons.

But the women, led by Mrs. Samuel Armor, wife of a city councilman and former county supervisor, erected a barbed wire fence around the park area and forbade traffic. Then they went to work and raised $200 through community dinners to finance their beautification project. In 1887 a metal fountain at a cost of $587 was ordered and installed in the center of the park. Fund-raisers such as "June Jubilee," hosted by the WCTU, and the very successful play The Plaza: A Local Drama in Five Acts covered the purchase. [For more information about the play, read Phillip Brigandi's edited and annotated version of The Plaza, published by Wrangler Press, Orange, California in 1982.] The efforts of Ladies Plaza Fountain Committee and other civic-minded citizens gave the city of Orange an enduring focal point for the community.

Modern Day Dedication

Gradually more vegetation, flowerbeds and larger trees would grace the area. An electric fountain was installed in the 1930s. The original cast bronze fountain still stands in the city; it was first moved near the plunge in W O. Hart Memorial Park, but in 1981, the 1887 Plaza Fountain was refurbished and relocated to the Civic Center. The dedication was April 6, 1981.