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Charles and Ada Bowers' Home

Photograph of Ada and Charles Bowers with Home, c. 1910
Unknown photographer; Santa Ana, California
Photographic print
88A
Gift of Charles and Ada Bowers

Two Openings

Two important events in the history of the Bowers Museum occurred during this week of February in 1932 and in 1936.

The beautiful white home shown in this rarely published photograph was located on the corner of 20th and Main St. in Santa Ana. Charles W. Bowers inherited the home from his parents and in 1908 it became the residence of Charles, then 63 years old, and his new bride Ada Elvira Bowers. The picture above (shot from 20th St. looking north) shows the couple in front of their home flanked by lush landscaping and large trees, many of which still grace the property today.

The Bowers were described as quiet and conservative people who took great interest in history. Desiring that Orange County’s history be preserved, the couple set up a trust that, upon their deaths, transferred ownership of their property to the City of Santa Ana for the specific purpose of constructing and maintaining a museum. A year after Ada passed away, the City of Santa Ana razed the Bowers’ home and on February 15, 1932 contractor William Rohrbacher began the construction of the Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum. The structure was Spanish in style complete with a courtyard containing a large fountain designed by Ada May Sharpless depicting the explorer Juan Cabrillo, and interior ceiling murals of scenes of California history painted by Martin Syvertsen.

With the Great Depression taking a toll on operational and maintenance costs, the collecting of objects to be acquired for exhibition, and the interior furniture of the museum to be constructed, it was not until almost exactly four years after construction began that the Museum opened to the public on February 13, 1936. Noted objects on exhibit at the Museum’s opening include Native American cog stones, a large bone from a prehistoric sea animal, and objects from San Juan Capistrano and the Southern California Rancho period.

All images and text under copyright. Please contact Collection Department for permission to use. Information subject to change with further research.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2024

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