A look back at Tustin 100 years ago

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

By 1915 automobiles parked at the curb on Main Street were a common sight.
The store that Charles Artz opened in 1914 is behind the pillars.

As we face the second decade of the 21st Century, it seems appropriate to look back at what was happening in Tustin 100 years ago.

The 1901 edition of “The Orange County Directory” described the community in this way: “The business center is small, but is surrounded by a thickly settled and highly improved country. The population is about 800. The town has a bank, two stores and other business facilities. It is the terminus of the Tustin branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which has good depot buildings and has recently built a large packing house. The public school is one of the best in the county. There are three church organizations, each owning its edifice. The leading productions are oranges, walnuts, apricots, olives, lemons ad other fruits, with grain, hay, alfalfa and all vegetables and flowers in profusion.”

Unfortunately this optimistic view of Tustin failed to take into account the continuing effect of the 1890s recession on the coming decade. In the aftermath of this financial turmoil, probably because the Tustin Hotel defaulted on its mortgage, The Bank of Tustin closed in 1902, and Tustin’s only drug store went out of business.

Church goers felt the impact when St. Paul’s Episcopal Church moved to Santa Ana in 1902. But the first few years of the 20th Century were not all bad.

Two telephone companies set up exchanges in Tustin about 1903, Home Telephone Co. and Sunset Co. Communication. But this was cumbersome with many forced to have two telephones since calls could not be made between subscribers of the two companies.

E.. M. Wheeler organized the Tustin Mutual Improvement Association in 1905. When they held a box social fundraiser at the Tustin Bank Hall, auctioneer James S. Rice raised $53, more than enough to pay for street signs the association had already installed in the downtown area.

Andrew Getty sold his store at the corner of D (El Camino Real) and Main to Henry Romer and Thomas Marshall in 1907. Charles Artz soon replaced Marshall. By 1914 Artz opened his own store near Main and C. A new bank, The First National Bank of Tustin, moved into the old Bank of Tustin building in 1911.

The citrus industry prospered. Tustin Packing Co. opened in 1905, while Tustin Lemon Association opened in 1908 and Tustin Hills Citrus Association began in 1909.

Ed Utt and Sherm Stevens joined with James Irvine in a 1,000-acre planting on the Irvine Ranch. Known as the San Joaquin Fruit Co., the project included walnuts, oranges and lemons.

Sam Tingley started the Tustin Lumber Co. in 1910 to meet the needs of the agricultural community and the building industry. Craftsman-style houses were going up among the Victorian homes that characterized the town.

By the middle of the second decade Tustin had motor cars and paved roads. Sam Tustin, son of Columbus Tustin, owned one of the first autos in town, a 1912 Buick. In 1914 the State of California paved Highway, 101 which ran through the center of Tustin as D St. (El Camino Real). William Huntley and Nick Gulick established the Tustin Garage in 1915.

Progress was temporally blunted in 1917 when the United States entered World War I, and many Tustin men including Nelson Holderman, who would receive the Congressional Medal Of Honor, went overseas to fight.

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