The development of Orange's early residential neighborhoods mirrored the growth of downtown in many ways. The earliest homes in Orange were built on the original eight-block townsite, or were scattered across the outlying farm lots. It was not until the mid-1880s that the farm lots surrounding the townsite began to be subdivided for residential development. During the brief real estate "boom" of 1886-88, more than a dozen subdivisions were laid out downtown, but many of the lots were simply held for speculation, and when the boom died down, returned to agricultural use.
It was not until after 1900, when the citrus industry began to drive the local economy, that the downtown neighborhoods began to fill out. New tracts were subdivided, and old 1880s lots re-surveyed. Homes began appearing further and further from the Plaza, especially to the east, and to the south, where the new Nutwood Place tract near the Santiago Creek (1906) became a desirable place to live.
By the mid-1920s, almost all the land we now think of as Old Towne Orange had been subdivided, and residential neighborhoods were growing up more and more to the west, towards Main Street. Neighborhoods began to fill in, creating interesting assortment of styles on a single block. A two-story Victorian farmhouse on the corner might be surrounded by a mix of Bungalows and Mediterranean style homes, with a few Classical Revivals, or perhaps a Tudor style home tossed in here and there. As late as the 1970s, new homes were still being built on the few remaining vacant lots downtown.
Orange's historic residential districts reflect the economic life of the community. The area was very middle class, with individual ranchers working 10-20 acres, and local businessmen making up the backbone of the local economy. So instead of a few grand mansions, Orange has block after block of middle class homes. More than 1,200 pre-1940 homes still survive in the downtown area.