Brea Old and New: The go-to source for "All things Brea"!


  • Historian Esther Cramer dies, leaves legacy in local history

    6 years ago by


    Photo courtesy of Cathy Casey

    La Habra Historian & Author Esther Cramer, 85,  passed away Sunday at Keck Hospital of  USC  after a  long bout with cancer.  Esther loved life. She was the author of the books La Habra, the pass through the hills: the formative years of a Southern California community from 1769, and Brea: The City of Oil, Oranges, and Opportunity. The historian was one of the most loved and fascinating people in La Habra. Her husband for 63 years Stan Cramer passed away recently. He was also a “giver.”   and involved in the community.
    Ruth Pearce  said, “Esther will always be remembered as a charming lively lady. Thankfully her intelligence and interest in the history of La Habra led to  the founding of the  museum and what better legacy could one leave.  She was never conceited or in it for herself “
    Kent Roberts, president of the La Habra Old Settlers Historical Society said, “She always amazed me when I asked her about an old house. Esther would tell me not only who lived in the there, but also about each child and where they went to college!
    To say we will miss her is an understatement.  She will be treasured forever.”
    Eunice Launer Harris lived across the street from Esther for many years and were dear friends.  She noted Esther could do anything. She even made her own wedding dress.  Esther was always busy and always planning. Eunice's  daughter Janet Harris Toknovich, who was Esther’s flower girl, said Esther  inspired her and many others. Kitty Zoeter said her death was a great loss to La Habra.
    Esther told me she was   so happy  when the museum opened and she could get all the stuff from under her bed. She always dropped everything when anyone called and had a question about La Habra..always ready to communicate and always willing to share everything. ..Esther made a difference and will be so missed! Memorial pending.
    Story by Susan Gaede


  • Old Brea: Jackson Bros. Cabinet Shop, Inc. location solved

    6 years ago by

    According to the city directories in 1961 and 1974, the aerial map shows where Jackson Bros. Cabinet Shop was located.

    We welcome questions!  Recently the following question was posed by Cindy Sullivan. In order to relay the right information accurately, we contacted Scott Neal, Board Member of the Brea Museum and Heritage Center, to answer her question.

    Cindy: Does anyone remember a business, I believe on Imperial Hwy., called Jackson Bros. Cabinets? This would have been in the 1960's or so.

    My uncle worked there and I can remember going out there on a few Saturdays. Seems like we drove way out Imperial to the boonies at that time, then my aunt just told me not long ago that it was on Imperial near Puente or Berry, she can't remember for sure. We now live very close to that area, so things have really gotten built up since that time! I was just curious.

    Scott: Hi Cindy, Jackson Bros Cabinet Shop Inc. was located at 1355 W. Imperial Highway in Brea between Palm and Puente (behind Famous Burgers). Floyd Jackson appears to have been an owner. Earl Putnam was listed as working for their company and was a member of the Brea Chamber of  Commerce. I found the company listed in city directories in both 1961 and 1974.

    According to a former employee's obituary, the company manufactured cabinets for every house in the largest subdivision in the world at that time. During that time there were 19,000 homes in the subdivision. The Secretary of State only shows one California Corporation with the name Jackson Bros., which was suspended in 1975. There is a Floyd Jackson in Brea today related to F & E Jackson Co. that has a location in Brea. Active officers include Edward L Jackson and Floyd R Jackson.






  • Local Historian & Author Esther Cramer passes away today

    6 years ago by

    Left to right: Esther Cramer, Stan Cramer, and Margrit Kendrick. (Photo by O.C History Roundup)

    Local La Habra Historian & Author Ester Cramer passes away today. Her most distinctive books: La Habra, the pass through the hills: the formative years of a Southern California community from 1769, and Brea: The City of Oil, Oranges, and Opportunity. Esther was a wonderful person, ready to share her community knowledge at a moment’s notice. Stan Cramer her husband of 63 years, who was involved in a number of local historical organizations, passed on recently. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cramer family. They will be missed by many.



  • Kiwanis Club of Brea annual Easter Egg Hunt marks 50 years of tradition

    6 years ago by

    50th Annual Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt

    In 1962, The Kiwanis Club of Brea held their inaugural Easter Egg Hunt.  Fifty year’s later they continue their tradition with pride and spirit. “Some things have changed since then, with plastic eggs instead of dyed “real” Easter eggs,” says, Dean Hall, a long-time member of the club.  In preparation for the big day on Saturday, they are congregating at the club tomorrow to fill a rather large order: 15,000-20,000 pieces of candy will be filled in plastic eggs by the Kiwanis and those family members they enlisted for the job!

    According to Dean, in the early morning hours of this Saturday, April 7, 400 children will line-up at the amphitheater at Arovista Park. With so many children, organization is the key to the Kiwanis success as there are three age categories: Pre-school, kindergarten-first grade, and second–third grade, says Dean.  At approximately 9:00 a.m. the children will be released in their designated areas to go on a fantastic egg hunt.  After the Easter egg hunt, each child receives a chocolate Easter bunny.  Also on hand is the friendly Easter Bunny, who is available for pictures before and after the egg hunt.

    Cheers to the Kiwanis Club of Brea for creating fond “Easter Egg Hunt” memories for thousands of children over the years.  Talk to Kiwanis members and their eyes twinkle to play a part of this grand event.  It's a gratifying experience for everyone involved!

  • Brea SummerFest and Brea Old and New to partner again with contest

    6 years ago by


    Brea SumerFest Celebrating 25 Years

    We are thrilled to announce that BBON will be partnering once again with the Brea SummerFest to conduct a spectacular BBON Brea SummerFest Contest! This year is their 25th Annual Brea SummerFest.  For years they have been rocking “Good Old Brea” with an amazing community event like no other! Over 25,000 people come from all over for the fantastic rides, great variety of tasty food, and unparalleled live entertainment including legendary singers and bands such as Pat Benetar, Eddie Money, Peter Frampton, and The Temptations! And this year’s line-up is looking supreme with Credence Clearwater Revisited, Starship, Dazz Band/Kool and the Gang, Bobby Kimball, the original singer of the band Toto, along with more headliners to come!

  • Local Eagle Scout’s project makes a historical impact

    6 years ago by

    The Brea Bowl commencement held this morning went well; it was a great event, according to Scott Neal, Board Member of the Brea Museum and Heritage Center.  Mayor Don Schweitzer was on hand to congratulate local Boy Scout, Matt Breneman, who did an excellent job in creating the Brea Bowl plaque as an Eagle Scout project to commensurate the famous baseball game played on October 21, 1924, featuring Brea’s famous baseball player Walter Johnson facing Babe Ruth at the Brea Bowl! Scott, a former Eagle Scout from Brea, showed his “Scout Spirit” by dressing in his Boy Scout uniform.  Scott’s daughters, Samantha and Angelina, were in the moment, too!



  • The Schweitzer Family: A Long Legacy of Serving Brea, Pt. 2

    6 years ago by

    "The Schweitzers, clockwise L to R; Frank, Jr, Charles, Don, Ruth, and Jim"


    Previously, BBON was pleased to provide a history of one of Brea's pioneer  families, the Schweitzer's, Part 1. We now proudly present, the second  installment...

    Most Breans are familiar with the name "Schweitzer", not  just for scientifically relevant reasons (Albert Schweitzer), but for a more  contemporary reason, Brea Mayor and Councilman Don Schweitzer. Those who  attend city events or view the council meeting broadcasts are familiar with  Don's easy smile and affable demeanor. But like his father and grandfather,  before running for and winning a council seat, Don was involved in the community, volunteering at the Brea Historical Society and serving on their board, as well as donating time and fundraising for the Lions Club, where he  was awarded the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellowship.

    A third-generation  Brean, Don attended schools, played in, and grew up with Brea, much like his  father, Frank Jr. After graduating from BOHS (at the old Birch Street  location), Don attended San Diego State College, served in the Army National  Guard, traveled  extensively, and eventually ended up in Bozeman, MT, where he  attended Montana State University, studying architecture.


    While  attending school in Bozeman, Don saw an opportunity and, with a friend, opened  one of the first submarine sandwich shops  in the city, across from the  university dormitories. The sandwich shop was converted from an old barbershop, and to  memorialize his entrepreneurial venture, Don kept one  of the old barber chairs that is still in his home today.

    Eventually,  the sandwich shop was sold and, after forty years, is still a popular gathering  place for students and teachers at the University.

    After graduation,  on a trip back to California, Don got the idea for a coffee, tea and spice shop.  Taking the idea back to Bozeman, he opened one of the first shops of its type  in Montana, even purchasing coffees from a little coffee importer in Seattle,  WA called Starbucks...long before Starbucks ever opened their own retail coffee  shops!


    "Don and Janis at a Lions Club Event"

    Eventually selling the coffee shop, Don decided to return to  Southern California and the Orange County area, where he started working with  an architectural firm. He landed the job to design the Scout Center in Brea, so  he, along with his new wife Janis, began looking for a home in his hometown.  By turn of a happy coincidence, a friend told him about a home for sale that  happened to be located right next door to the home his father, Frank Jr., had  built back in the late fifties. The house, at one time, had been the home of  his best friend, who had been the best man at his wedding.


    After settling  into his new home, another old friend and long-time Brean, Al Tremaine,  suggested Don get involved in the Brea Historical Society. It was while  volunteering with the Historical Society that Don learned of  preliminary plans to turn the old American Legion Building, at City Hall  Park, into the new Boy's and Girls Club. Don saw an even better use for the  building and became the driving force, organizing support for his proposal, to  turn the building into the Brea Museum and Heritage Center. After presenting  his proposal to the City Council to a favorable vote, the Historical Society  Board of Directors named Don to the voluntary position of Museum Director, where  he oversaw the building's renovation process before it could assume its new  role.


    Don says he never intended to run for city council, but that his  experience with the museum convinced him that he wanted to accomplish more to  secure the future of Brea and Breans. Among the accomplishments he is most proud  of since serving on the council is retaining the Brea Firefighters contract  with Brea; the Sports Wall of Fame at the Brea Sports Park on Birch Street,  honoring notable Breans who have achieved national recognition in various sports; and the Brea War Memorial, honoring Breans who have given their lives  to preserve our freedoms since WWI, currently in process with artist Susan  Narduli.


    Each year, Brea's Mayor chooses a signature theme to mark their  current tenure. This year, Mayor Schweitzer's theme is "Make a Difference,  Green Brea", to educate and promote awareness on ways to save energy and help  reduce carbon emissions.


    Don is very excited about the results of the  recently completed Civic Center Solar Project, that has already seen  a savings of 50,000 kilowatt hours, which is an approximate savings of $1  million, or enough energy to provide electricity for 40 homes.


    Along  with the theme, the website was created for Breans as a resource for tips on what we can do as individuals and a community to reduce our energy consumption. Be sure and visit the website and watch for various educational events that will be presented throughout the  year.  Story courtesy of Kathy Cannon.

    "Don and Janis Schweitzer, with their daughters"

  • Celebrating outstanding women in Brea’s history

    6 years ago by


    Photo courtesy of Scott Neal, longtime Brea resident and Board Member at the Brea Museum and Heritage Center.
    In honor of National Women’s History Month, BBON is celebrating our local history by featuring an article from the Daily Star Progress dated Friday, November 20, 1987.  The article highlights three women from Brea who were honored on the county and state level for their outstanding achievement. The honorees are Clarice Blamer, a former mayor, city council member and chairman of the Orange County Transportation Commission, Jean Sullivan, former Brea Olinda High School Principal, and Lisa Gaede, daughter of Susan and Rex Gaede, hired straight out of college to serve as a legislative assistant in Washington.

  • Modeling at 80 years, Fern Smith of Brea celebrates her 104 B-day!

    6 years ago by

    Fern Smith recently celebrated birthday number 104. Mayor Don Schweitzer gave her a certificate from the City of Brea at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.

    Fern Smith’s 104th B-day party: Fern was given a birthday party by her  family at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor and loved every minute of it.  Primary  children of LDS Third Ward presented the birthday gal with 104 roses. Mayor Don  Schweitzer presented her with a certificate from the City of Brea.
    Fern has lived in Brea since 1943. She was born in  Diamond, Missouri in 1908.
    Fern is an amazing gal and you never know she  was 104. She started modeling when she was 80.
    Teddy Roosevelt was President and Henry Ford  started producing his first Model T automobile.She has 2 daughters, 3 Grandchildren, 5 great Grandchildren and 9 Great-Great  Grandchildren.
    Her motto: “Do the best you can everyday of your  life and the Lord will take care of you”
    Story by Susan Gaede


    6 years ago by


    1979 Brea Olinda High School grad John Denis with OSCAR

    People: 1979 Brea Olinda High Brea grad John Denis is Executive Producer for Pixomondo. Pixomondo won best visual effects for HUGO.

    Susan Gaede