Kellogg House

The centerpiece of the Heritage Museum of Orange County, which covers nearly 12 acres in all, is a historic plaza featuring several buildings from the 1890s set amidst extensive floral gardens and citrus groves. Local history is showcased with the Maag Farmhouse and other structures, but the main, and most recognizable historic building on the property is the Queen Anne-style Victorian Kellogg House built in 1898, familiar to teachers and students throughout Orange County as a favorite field trip destination for over 30 years and the backdrop to thousands of HMOC weddings and events.  Developed to provide a host of exploratory educational experiences, HMOC attracts more than 40,000 guests a year to our property with our range of tours, ghost investigations, exhibits and public events and we welcome those of any age to further explore this architectural and historical marvel.

Find out more about the Kellogg Family and their home’s history, and plan your own tour of the property!

5 Ways to Tour the Kellogg House

HMOC Kellogg House historical photo with Kellogg Family

Explore the Kellogg House Story

As a successful Civil Engineer and Architect as well as a leading Orange County pioneer, Hiram Clay Kellogg was in a unique position to build a home for him and his new bride that was custom tailored to fit his aesthetic and needs perfectly.

Hiram’s fascination with tall wooden sailing ships heavily influenced his design for the custom late Queen Anne style Victorian home with neo-classical elements, one of the first built, and considered one of the finest of the times, in Orange County in 1898. 

With the oval dining room that duplicates an officers’ mess; the curved cabinets and shelves along the wall that were built by a ship’s carpenter; the spiral three story staircase circling an authentic 18th century spruce mast sourced from a decommissioned ship Hiram found and shipped back on a San Francisco trip, that runs from the foot of the stairs up to the attic that he left open to the floor below to give the effect of a bottomless crow’s nest; all of the many intricate details in the home were designed and built according to Hiram’s very specific instructions…

At the time this Queen Anne Victorian was built, it was one of the county’s most modern homes, with both central heating and indoor plumbing. It also featured two parlors, two kitchens (one in the original site’s basement which did not get transferred with the property to it’s current home) and an oval-shaped dining room with curved glass windows and a custom inlaid wood tongue-and-groove floor (meaning no nails were used to keep it together).

Many houses built in Orange County in the late 1800s were called “Victorian” homes referencing Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. People loved to emulate her extravagant style in dress, home decor and entertainment. A subset of Victorian style, Queen Anne homes feature dramatic gables, overhung eaves, wraparound porches, parapets, and ornate decoration. They were most popular in the U.S. between 1880 and 1910.

Although widely recognized as a Queen Anne Victorian home, Mr. Kellogg did incorporate many elements found in other architectural styles; however the main architectural features commonly included in the exterior of Queen Anne style houses are present, including: verge boards (also known as gingerbread trim); clapboard (pronounced klaberd) walls; bay, paired, and large pane windows; decorative glass; brackets; iron railings; and a large covered porch.

The Kellogg home remained in use as the primary residence of the Kellogg Family until Helen Kellogg’s death, 4 decades after Hiram’s, in 1961. View a more detailed Kellogg family history below. 

In early 1980, Dr. Mary Nolan (who worked in the Special Services and Enrichment Activities department of the Santa Ana School District), noticed that students in other districts enjoyed a variety of field trips. However, Santa Ana students could not participate, due to lack of funds for buses and entrance fees. Dr. Nolan’s idea was to purchase a historic house, have it moved to a lot in Santa Ana that had been quitclaimed to the school district for use as an educational facility, and renovate the house so the parents in the district could be docents. Students could tour the house to learn about Orange County history.

Working with then City of Santa Ana Grants Coordinator Alice McCullough and the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, the need became apparent to preserve the past and maintain connections to early founders. Providing an ideal link to Orange County’s entrepreneurial history given Hiram Kellogg’s extensive involvement in the county’s creation, with much of his business conducted out of his office in the southeast corner of the house, the Kellogg Family generously donated their family home to be saved from a scheduled neighborhood demolition and preserved for educational purposes.

In 1980, funded by federal grants, it was loaded onto dollies and pulled by truck to move it in one night from 8pm to 6am from its original location in Santa Ana at 122 Orange Street and Walnut, to it’s current home at Fairview and West Harvard Street. Two men took turns sitting on top of the house, holding a wooden board to lift electrical wires out of the way as the house passed under them. People lined the streets along the whole transfer route to watch the house being relocated.

Once in place, work began to rehabilitate the home, so students could one day visit to learn all about life long ago. Officially founded in 1981, the museum opened for visitors in 1985 and for the first 10 years served mainly Santa Ana students. The Museum has gone through various name changes over the years but has matured into the present-day Heritage Museum of Orange County that so many love and visit in the thousands annually for school field trips, weddings and events.

Today the Kellogg House is decorated and furnished in authentic Victorian decor. Little has been changed of the basic floor plan, central stairway, elaborate woodwork, and Neo-classical exterior. Viewing the interior of the house is like stepping back in time to the turn of the century. The double parlor, oval dining room, kitchen, bath, and bedrooms feature authentic antiques–many hands-on Victorian artifacts. Plan your visit to see this historical treasure for yourself!

Sourced and excerpted from HMOC (previously Discovery Museum of Orange County and Centennial Heritage Museum) archival information; PBS SoCal; and the Santa Ana Historical Society Records.

Meet the Kellogg Family

Kellogg group on front lawn

From escaping a Donner Party tragedy, to becoming the first city engineer of Santa Ana and one of the pioneers organizing the birth of Orange County, this is the story of Hiram Clay Kellogg and his family.

Hiram’s father Benjamin Franklin Ephraim Kellogg made the migration to California from the East coast with his older brother Florentine and Florentine’s family in 1846, traveling in a wagon train that included the ill-fated Donner party. Like the Donners and a few others, the Kelloggs followed the as-yet untried “Hastings Cutoff” shortcut to California. The Kellogg’s felt that they were moving too slowly and departed to join another faster moving party; because of this their wagons and most of the others made it safely over the Sierras before the heavy snowstorm that trapped the Donners, who had fallen badly behind on the trail.

The family settled near St. Helena, California in Napa Valley. The war against Mexico, which would secure California for the United States, was still in progress and Benjamin enlisted in John C. Fremont’s California Battalion, making the long and hazardous march with his company to the battle front near Los Angeles, only to discover that the Mexican Army had surrendered the day before they arrived.

Benjamin served out his enlistment and returned to the Napa Valley, where he later married Mary Orilla Lillie on September 5, 1854. Of their nine children, Hiram (H. Clay) was the first, born on September 9, 1855, just six years after California became a state, beginning his path that would lead to becoming the patriarch of the Orange County Kelloggs and an Orange County pioneer.

In 1869, when Hiram was 13, the family moved to a farm in Anaheim where they raised crops and cattle and engaged in the dairy business. As an adult, he declined to enter his father’s business, instead opening a sundries shop in Santa Ana with one of his brothers. From this successful business he earned enough money to attend the short-lived Wilson College in Wilmington, CA graduating as a civil engineer in 1879 at the age of 24. Until 1883, he laid out vineyards in Anaheim, Placentia, and Pasadena during the heyday of Southern California wineries.

Hiram’s first important engineering contract was laying out the town of Elsinore in 1883. For the next ten years he served in several overlapping positions: he was Chief Engineer of the Anaheim Union Water Company and of the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation Company; he was also the Deputy County Surveyor for the County of Los Angeles, which at the time included the area that is now Orange County. Hiram planned the streets of downtown Corona, with its circular main street, Grand Boulevard. (This unusual street was the site of a road race in 1913 that featured the legendary Barney Oldfield and other star race drivers of the time).

During the same period, Kellogg became Engineer of the Corona Water System and supervised construction of the Pacific Electric railway between San Bernardino, Riverside and Colton. At some point he added Engineer of the Anaheim Irrigation District to his resume. His fame spread throughout the southwest, and in 1893 he became the construction engineer for the dam at Gila Bend in Arizona. Back in Orange County in 1894, he was elected as County Surveyor. 

From 1894 to 1899, he was the Orange County Surveyor responsible for many of our major roads and bridges. Joan-Marie Michelsen, Hiram’s great granddaughter, remembers a story told to her about one of these bridges. Hiram, without humility, bragged the bridge would last forever. When it was later scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a larger bridge, the first demolition attempt failed. The dynamite produced only a “whomp.” 

Another family anecdote tells of Kellogg’s being chastised for driving on the wrong side of the street. His response was that he “built the (expletive) street and will drive on it any way I please.”

By the early 1900’s, he was traveling again, this time to the Sandwich Islands as Chief Engineer and in 1903 he went to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he served as head construction engineer for an irrigation dam and its associated ditches that was being built by the Waialua Sugar Company. The dam impounds the waters of Lake Wilson and is one of the largest freshwater impoundments in the State, encompassing the town of Wahiawa.

In 1906, he was appointed Engineer of the Newbert Protection District, making him responsible for flood control of the Santa Ana River from Santa Ana to the ocean. The following year he returned briefly to Oahu to consult on the structural integrity of the Nu’uanu dam, which was then under construction.

In his personal life Hiram married twice, the first time to Victoria Charlotte Schultz on May 20, 1886. Victoria and Hiram’s marriage was ill fated, with Victoria dying on February 6, 1891 at only 20 years old, shortly after the birth of their only child, Sibyl Victoria. Described as the love of his life, Hiram was devastated by Victoria’s loss.

After carrying on a mistaken identity mail correspondence (*) with a woman from the East Coast, Hiram’s soon to be second wife, Helen Vianna Kellogg(**) traveled to Portland, Oregon where Hiram married her on June 12, 1895 before they both returned to Orange County to resume care of his daughter Sybil, with Helen becoming a step mother. Hiram built the beautiful Kellogg House as a wedding gift for his new bride and their first child, also Helen, with construction completed in 1898, three years after they married.  The home was originally located at 122 Orange Avenue in Downtown Santa Ana.  This marriage produced four children: Helen (Jr); Leonard Franklin (1899); Hiram Clay, Jr. (1900);  and Oahu Rose, the youngest daughter named in remembrance of Hiram’s time in Hawaii (1903). Grandson Ralph Michelsen remembered him as a loving man who gave Ralph a big hug every day during the year Ralph lived in the Kellogg house.

As an active community member of both the Santa Ana Masons Lodge No 241, as well as the Native Sons of the Golden West, Hiram served the Native Sons at one time as President, and as Deputy District Grand President for 14 years.

Hiram passed away on December 23, 1921 at the Anaheim Sanitarium (hospital) as a result of complications only a day after having surgery for his stomach ulcers.  He was survived by his 5 children and wife Helen, who continued to live at the Kellogg House property through her own second marriage, until her own passing in the house four decades later on May 30, 1963 at the age of 91.  Some say she has not left the house, even after her death, with numerous reports of her spirit residing on the property to this day(*). During Hiram’s 66 years, he was one of the major contributors to Santa Ana, Orange County and California, along with Arizona and Hawaii. The enduring nature of what he created has added substantially to everyday Orange County life.

For more information join us during our Public Hours to tour the property; visit our Kellogg Resources section, or (*) take our Haunted Historical tour for first hand accounts and exclusive Kellogg family history and stories unheard anywhere else.

(**)Hiram and Helen Vianna were distantly related, both descending from Lt. Joseph Kellogg, born 1624 in Hadley, Massachusetts. Helen Kellogg descended through Joseph’s first wife Joanna Foote. Hiram Clay Kellogg descended through Joseph’s second wife Abigail Terry.

Sourced and excerpted from HMOC (previously Discovery Museum of Orange County and Centennial Heritage Museum) archival information; Hiram’s obituary published in the Santa Ana Daily Register December 23rd, 1921; and the Santa Ana Historical Society Records.

View a collection of the Kellogg House and Family photographs showcasing:

  1. Historic photos of the Kellogg House 
  2. The Kellogg Family: historical snapshots in time
  3. The interior of the 1898 Queen Anne Victorian Kellogg house
  4. Kellogg House exterior angles at HMOC

(Click the gallery images to view larger)


Additional Kellogg Resources

2024     Kellogg House Tour Detailed Notes

2024     Kellogg Family Biographies

2024     Kellogg House Self Guided tour notes

2024     Kellogg House Self Guided tour notes (Spanish Version)

06/2022     Avoiding Regret (Blog): “Photo Essay: A Victorian Home Built Like a Ship Is Permanently Moored at Heritage Museum of Orange County”

06/2017     Press Enterprise: “Back in the Day: The man behind Grand Boulevard”

01/1994     LA Times: “At Home in 1898 in the Kellogg House”

04/1991     Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society: “The Kellogg House”

Date Unknown     HMOC Archives: “How the Kellogg House came to be on Museum Property an Interview with Alice Mccullough”

Date Unknown     Find a “Hiram Clay Kellogg” biography, obituary, gravesite”

Date Unknown     HMOC Archives: “Hiram Kellogg Professional and Personal Notes”

Date Unknown     Discovery Museum Newsletter (pre-HMOC name change): “The Missing Kellogg Grandchildren”

Date Unknown    OCCGS Veteran’s Project:  “Benjamin Franklin Ephraim Kellogg Genealogy” 

Date Unknown    TechWaste Recycling: “About Kellogg House, Santa Ana, CA”

Present Day Kellogg Family: Kellogg Garden Products