W H Spurgeon BuildingEdit profile
The Los Angeles Aqueduct began flowing and a future president was born on a citrus grove in Yorba Linda (Richard Nixon) the same year the William. H. Spurgeon Building was begun. This was the fourth building named after Santa Ana's founder, and the third one on this site at the Southwest corner of Sycamore and Fourth Streets.
If you wanted to be regarded as an important member of the business community, you had an office in this four-story, 50,000 square-foot brick building. Uncle Billy, as William Spurgeon was known to many, decided to crown his building with an elaborate clock tower of pressed metal, featuring a four-faced clock. This icon was in plain view of his fellow members of the Board of Supervisors, and for good reason. Mr. Spurgeon was angry with his colleagues for not ponying up the money to pay for the clock mechanism in the cupola which sat atop the beautiful red sandstone county courthouse, on land generously donated by Spurgeon. (The Old Orange County Courthouse is also featured in "This Place Matters.")
Spurgeon's building was completed in 1915. Sadly Uncle Billy passed away a year before its completion. The building had a manually operated elevator, which was the next to last to be converted in the county.
A little known secret of the building. Between the floors - viewable only if you stop the elevator in mid-run, forcing the doors open - reveal painted murals of street scenes of Early Santa Ana, commissioned by a former owner of the building, Robert Heath in the early l980's. (Please don't attempt this on your own.)
In recent years, the landmark building languished and had not been the object of a great deal of care. In l994, then city councilman Tom Lutz had the brainstorm of repairing the clock tower, as "it was only correct twice a day." (Frozen in position.) He shared this over coffee with Tim Rush, vice president of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society. Between them, they launched a project with community and business leaders to retore the tower clock to working order. Over $70,000 in donations (cash and in-kind labor) were obtained to repair the clock with no cost to the public - as a gift to the Santa Ana and the Orange County community.
To this day, the clock chimes to a town that remembers its past and enjoys its beauty