Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Orange County: Placentia

Copyright 2002 by James E. Lancaster, Ph.D.

Notice:The images - photographs, drawings, maps and track diagrams - presented in this web site are the property of the respective contributors and may not be used for any purpose without permission. For more information see Photo Credits and Restrictions.

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Placentia (ATSF)

Placentia is on the Santa Fe's Third District main line that runs between San Bernardino and Los Angeles via Riverside and Fullerton. The section of track through Placentia is actually a cutoff between Atwood and Fullerton built in 1910 to avoid having mainline trains go down to Orange and back, thereby reducing the Atwood-to-Fullerton distance by eight miles.

Two north-south streets in Placentia cross the cutoff tracks: Bradford Avenue near the center of town and Melrose Street to the west (Map). The packing houses are most easily described by indicating their locations relative to these streets.

Three Sanborn Insurance Maps, from 1917, 1922 and 1922-33, have been used to trace the development of the packing house industry in Placentia. They are referenced in the text.

Unless otherwise indicated, all of the Placentia photos in the following descriptions were taken in July 2001 and early 2002.

The Santa Fe station was on the north side of the tracks immediately east of South Bradford Avenue. Packing houses were built east of the station on the same side of the tracks. The 1917 Sanborn map shows two packing houses in this area: the R. F. Davies and Randolph Marketing Company fruit packing houses. Neither of these shows on the 1922 map. A single packing house called the Placentia Packing Company has replaced them. The 1922-33 Sanborn map again shows two packing houses, both somewhat larger than their 1917 counterparts. They are the Bradford Brothers and Placentia Cooperative Orange Association orange packing houses. These two buildings are still standing as of 2002, albeit with a number of additions.

Our virtual tour of Placentia starts at the far east end of town by examining the former Placentia Cooperative Orange Association packing house, located along the north side of the tracks. The first view shows a loading dock at the east end of the current building complex (Photo-JL). The next view is looking west along the south side of the packing house buildings. The tracks here are on a shallow curve forcing the south side of the complex to have a concave curve (Photo-JL). Next comes a view of the same side of the buildings but from the opposite direction, i.e., looking east from the west end (Photo-JL), followed by a close-up view of the multiple buildings on the east end (Photo-JL). According to the 1922-33 Sanborn map, only the part of a building on the far left is the original Placentia Cooperative packing house.

The next photo is a closer view of the original building.


James Lancaster Photo

Finally we see the west end of the packing house in a view from the south (Photo-JL), followed by a view of the same end of the building looking toward the northwest corner (Photo-JL).

The former Bradford Brothers packing house is just west of the Placentia Cooperative Orange Association packing house. It has add-ons on the west and east ends that are not shown on the 1922-33 Sanborn map. A virtual walk-around shows the packing house as it exists today (in 2002): (1) the south side with its loading doors,


James Lancaster Photo

(2) a close-up of the southeast corner and east end showing the add-ons and the saw-tooth roof (Photo-JL); (3) a July 2000 view of the added, flat-roofed, west-end loading dock (Photo-JL); (4) a February 2002 view of the loading dock after a recent paint job (Photo-JL); and (5) the northeast corner with its interesting wood tower (Photo-JL).

Another packing house was just east of South Bradford Avenue but on the south side of the tracks, directly opposite the Santa Fe station. The building was odd in that it was not rectangular, but rather was built in the shape of a parallelogram to fit the space between the Santa Fe tracks on the north, Bradford Avenue on the west, and Crowther Ave on the south. The 1917 and 1922 Sanborn maps show it as the Placentia Mutual Orange Association packing house but on the 1922-33 map it had become the Fortuna Packing Company orange packing house. By the late 1940s it may have been operated under the name Babijuice Corporation. This building was demolished in March 2002.

Our virtual tour continues with a walk-around of the former Fortuna packing house showing the building as it existed up until March 2002: (1) the north side with its loading doors (Photo-JL); (2) a close-up of the north side (Photo-JL); (3) a view looking across Bradford Avenue at the northwest corner, showing the trees growing where a siding was once located,


James Lancaster Photo

(4) a view of the southwest corner of the building at Bradford and Crowther (Photo-JL); and (5) the east side of the building (Photo-JL). These additional photos, taken on April 7, 2002, show similar views after the building was demolished: (6) from the northwest corner (same view as 3, above) (Photo-JL); (7) from the southwest corner at Bradford and Crowther with the Bradford Brothers packing house now visible on the right behind the tractor (same view as 4, above) (Photo-JL); and (8) an overall view of the location from the corner of Bradford and Crowther (Photo-JL).

An old photo from the 1920s looks east from just west of Bradford Avenue. The Fortuna packing house is on the right edge of the photo. On the near left is the Santa Fe station. Behind it is the Bradford Brothers packing house. Beyond Bradford Brothers is a building either under construction or being torn down. (Note: Approval is needed to display this photo. When the approval is received the photo will be viewable.) In this July 2001 view, also looking east from the west side of Bradford Avenue, an eastbound inter-modal train is just going out of view (Photo-JL).

On the south side of the tracks approximately half way between Bradford and Melrose, the 1917 and 1922 Sanborn maps show the Placentia Orange Grower's Association packing house. On the 1922-33 map the packing house had expanded east to Bradford Avenue by adding an ice manufacturing building, an ice storage building, and a cold storage building. These buildings are still standing as of 2002.

Our virtual tour continues with a walk-around of the former Placentia Orange Grower's Association packing house showing the building as it currently exists (May 2002): (1) the north side of the packing house looking west and showing the original building on the right, the cold storage room in the middle, and the ice storage room on the left,


James Lancaster Photo

(2) a closer view of the ice storage room with the cold storage room on the right (Photo-JL); (3) a closer view of the original building with the door to the cold storage room on the left (Photo-JL); (4) a close-up view of the door to the cold storage room (Photo-JL); (5) the north side of the packing house looking from the northwest (Photo-JL); (6) the truck loading docks on the southwest side (these are at street level becuse Crowther drops in elevation west of Bradford - the second story is at track level) (Photo-JL); and (7) the south side of the newest addition near the corner of Bradford and Crowther (note the rooftop water tank) (Photo-JL).

Just west of the Placentia Orange Grower's Association packing house on the east side of South Melrose, both the 1917 and 1922 maps show the Placentia Canning Company. The canning company no longer appears on the 1922-33 map. This location is a vacant lot as of 2002.

On the south side of the tracks but on the west of South Melrose, in an area that is not shown on the 1917 Sanborn map, the 1922 map shows a second Placentia Mutual Orange Association packing house. The 1922-33 map shows an expansion of this packing house, probably to compensate for the sale of the earlier packing house at Bradford and Crowther to Fortuna Packing Company. The Placentia Mutual Orange Association buildings are still standing as of 2002.

Our virtual tour ends with a walk-around of the former Placentia Mutual Orange Association packing house showing the building as it currently exists (May 2002): (1) the east side (front) of the building on Melrose and the north side along the tracks,


James Lancaster Photo

(2) a closer view of the north side of the building showing the brick and concrete construction (Photo-JL); (3) the far west end of the north side of the complex showing more recent additions (Photo-JL); and (4) the lower level truck docks on Crowther (Photo-JL).


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