History of Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Park was part of Don Teodosio Yorba’s original Mexican grant of Rancho Lomas de Santiago. The first recreational use of the oak grove was by the early German colonists who settled Anaheim in 1857, and the area became known as the “Picnic Grounds”.

In 1860, Don Teodosio sold his rancho for $7,000 to a Yankee trader William Wolfskill. Sheepmen from Monterey County bought the Lomas for $7,000, the same price paid six years before. As the nearby communities grew, the “Picnic Grounds” became a mecca for valley dwellers, and with organized festivities on May Day and the Fourth of July.

In 1876, the grove and the surrounding rancho became the sole property of James Irvine who had bought out his partners. Seven years after his father’s death, James, Jr. decided to give the county its first park. F. P. Nickey, then president of the Board of Supervisors, accepted what was described as the “Gift Munificent” with the donation of the 160-acre oak grove. Irvine stipulated that the area should always be kept as natural-looking as possible, and that the trees should have the fullest care. One dollar passed from the county treasury to James Irvine on October 5, 1897, and the area was named “Orange County Park”.


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