French Park, just northeast of downtown Santa Ana, is an architectural wonderland — a place where historic homes are revered and largely safe from over-development and ultimate destruction.
Built from the late 1890’s through the 1920’s by some of Orange County’s most prominent movers and shakers, the community, and its homes display a wealth of architectural styles, from Victorian, Craftsman and Colonial Revival, English, to Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival. The turn-of-the-century ushered in an era of wealth and prosperity to Santa Ana. Mr. Miles Crookshank, president of Santa Ana’s First National Bank in 1889, built his large Victorian house on North French Street and set the tone for more stylistically unique homes to be built along the street. This area developed a reputation as Orange County’s version of Nob Hill.
Many of these large homes were divided into apartments and guest houses for military families during World War II. Unfortunately, after many of these original owners either passed away or skirted their responsibilities, a period of decline began, with some of the great masterful Victorians becoming run down and destroyed.
In the late 1970’s, a movement sparked momentum, intended to preserve and restore French Park to its glory years. The Historic French Park Association was organized in 1979 with a mission to restore and enhance the historical features of the original buildings.
The area was designated a local historic district in 1984 and renamed the “French Park Historic District”. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, only the second of such listings ever in Santa Ana.