If you’ve ever found yourself along the edge of Old Towne Orange you might have stumbled upon a quiet, almost secret area called Pitcher Park. Pitcher Park is a small park at the intersection of Cambridge and Almond. During lunchtime, you will see people enjoying their food while playing chess or simply enjoying the weather on the lawn under one of the huge avocado trees. What many people don’t know is that in the summertime, on the first Sunday of each month, this park comes alive when the museum doors open (12- 4 pm) to the public.
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s called Pitcher park, it’s named after the Pitcher family who donated their land to the city of Orange in the late ’80s and in 1992 it officially became a city park. The Pitcher family immigrated to Orange from Kansas in 1910 and as many of you might know by 1912 the city of Orange had a huge expansion. Spanning three city lots, the Pitcher’s were busy building their main house, a honey house, a workshop, and an attached garage. The house was demolished but the honey house and garage were both restored and now provide us with just a little glimpse of the past.
This is the tall barn house building you can’t miss when you enter the park. In fact, this used to be the Pitcher garage which now serves as a firehouse museum and actually has a fire engine inside from the early 1900s. You’ve got to see it yourself! Alongside the fire engine, you’ll discover various memorabilia from the Orange Fire department. Additionally, you can find a large collection of miniature fire engines, various signs, fire fighting suits, and other interesting items from the past.
The workshop is attached to the fire museum and definitely takes you back in time. This is were Mr. Pitcher did much of his woodworking. Amongst many items from 1920-1970, you can see photos of the Pitcher’s and how their life used to be. I don’t want to give anything away but if you visit during the 1st Sunday of the month the local volunteers will engage you in different inventions that the Pitcher’s participated in.
If you want to find out more about bees including how they work and how they produce honey, this is the place to be. Volunteers from the Orange County Beekeepers Association are very helpful and will give you a tour of the bee house followed by a honey sampling for you to try and you can even purchase the honey. In fact, Mr. Pitcher’s Honey House was the attraction of many beekeepers in the area. In the past, many beekeepers would come to this honey house to use the honey extractor for harvesting. Currently, there are no bees in the honey house, so no need to worry.
Pitcher park is such a great secret hideaway (well, maybe not so secret anymore) and such a great spot for locals to enjoy. There have been many events held in Pitcher Park including Shakespeare in the Park and the Persimmon festival. The park is filled with various exotic fruit trees like bananas, persimmons, figs, avocados, oranges, and many other trees, just like it used to be when the Pitcher family planted the exotic trees. I hope you enjoy this park and the piece of history it offers.