The charming, turreted home is the oldest house in Huntington Beach. Built in 1898 for William and Mary Newland and their 10 children, the Queen Anne Victorian home was a farmstead that dates back to a time when there wasn’t much else on the windswept mesa, beyond a few other scattered homesteads.
When the Newlands paid $1,485 to settle this corner of California, the closest town was Santa Ana—and getting there meant a full day bumping along in a horse and buggy. The Newlands cleared the swampy bogs below the bluffs and farmed on their land. The house looked out over berry bushes, vegetable plots, and an orchard, and the grounds were roamed by cows, chickens, turkeys, goats, horses, and the family’s pet peacocks. The family’s barn once stood on land that’s now a parking lot.
The Newlands also worked to shape the fledgling community beyond the farm. William Newland launched the city’s first bank and newspaper, and Mary was instrumental in getting the community’s schools off the ground. Before there were hotels in the area, visitors tucked in to the Newland House for some shut-eye when they came to town. Mark Twain is among the guests said to have spend a night in the handsome house.
Huntington Beach sits in Orange County, land that was historically home to the Acjachemen (also known as the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation) and the Gabrielino-Tongva Indians, and the Newlands collected many artifacts; Mary Newland had an extensive collection of baskets made by Native artists. Archaeological digs around the house have uncovered additional historic finds, including cog stones, shells, and bone, some of which were carbon dated to approximately 5,000 B.C.
Mary Newland took charge of the ranch when William died in the 1930s. When she passed away two decades later, an oil company leased the property and rented it out to some of their employees. By the 1970s, it had fallen into disrepair and carried the scars of vandalism. In the middle of the decade, the Huntington Beach Historical Society began restoring and refurbishing the property, and the Historical Society continues to provide the stewardship, ongoing maintenance, and improvements for the property. Today, the museum gives visitors a glimpse into the daily life of the Newland family and the region’s pioneer past.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open the first and third weekends of the month, from noon to 4 p.m., and closed on major holidays and rainy days. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Group tours are available by appointment.