"I once read an interesting magazine article that confidently stated - in
effect - that today's cars will never be classics, like the real classics
of days gone by. The piece was written by a well-known scribe, and published
in a respected automotive journal. His arguments seemed well researched,
documented, and presented. The odd twist was that this article was published
in 1954. So, if his thesis was indeed correct at the time, then no car built
after about 1955 would ever be of interest to anyone, except of course as
I don't have to tell you the number of post 1955 cars that made my little heart
pitter patter. They had all sorts of classes of cars. I liked the vettes, mustangs,
cobras, vintage Ferraris, and much more. Quite a treat. For those of you who don't
know Orange County history or may think that Irvine is Orange County, here's a little
history. The Muckenthaler Center is not quite the Getty either, but it takes it's
place in national registry of historic buildings.
ps. I also take great family pride, as Walter and Adella where my Great uncle and aunt.
The Muckenthaler's history - from 1921 [as excerpted from the
5th Annual Muckenthaler Motor Car Show & Vintage Race-Car Tour brochure
published by the Orange County Register]
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center was once the family home of Walter and Adella Muckenthaler. In 1921, they
bought an 80-acre estate from the Carhart family and set aside this 8-acre hilltopo parcel on which they built
their dream home. [Try doing that today anywhere in CA] The hired Fullerton architect Frnak Benchley to
design an Italian Renaissance house, reminiscent of buildings built for San Diego's 1915 Exposition in Balboa
Park. His work led to construction of a Mediterranean-style mansion with an octagonal solarium and a large
open-air (now covered) central atrium. The entrance was planned around the wrought-iron staircase railing
imported from Italy. All of the tile in the two fireplaces, as well as that in the butler's pantry and
solarium floors, was made by the Ernest Batchelder Tile Co. Construction cost of the building in 1924 totaled
The landscaping by Walter Muckenthaler and Clark Lutschg of Sequoia Nursery in Fullerton took four years to
complete. The grounds originally included peristyle gardens, a fountain, an arbor, many palms, and a wide
variety of rare trees and plants. A stone gazebo still stands near the south-east corner of the property,
close to where there once was a reservoir for irrigations of the citrus groves that stretched south toward the
In 1965, Adella and her son, Harold, donated this estate to the City of Fullerton with the condition that it
be developed as a cultural center. This gift to the city exemplified the pride Walter felt and displayed in
his years as a city councilman and as a member of several civic and agricultural organizations.
In 1981, the National Register of Historic Buildings recognized the Muckenthaler home as a historic site.
Concerns over environmental, structural and fire safety led to a complete renovation of the building's
interior and exterior beginning in 1982. Work was completed and the Muckenthaler Cultural Center officially
reopened as a fully air-conditioned, earthquake resistant building in 1984.
Today the Muckenthaler Cultural Center Foundation has as it's goal the continued promotion and development of
a cultural center that fosters public enjoyment and an understanding of the arts. The Center hosts events
such as high-caliber exhibitiions that appeal to various age groups and cultures, children's eductional
programs, and a rotating schedule of theater, dance, and music events.
The first car show marked the Muckenthaler's 30th year as a cultural center. For programming or membership
information, you can call 714-738-6595.