Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Riverside County: Riverside

Copyright 2002, 2006 by James E. Lancaster, Ph.D.

Notice:The images - photographs, drawings, maps and track diagrams - presented in this web site are the property of the respective contributors and may not be used for any purpose without permission. For more information see Photo Credits and Restrictions.

The web site contains a large number of images. Some are displayed inline with the text. However, to control the loading time, the remaining images are viewed by clicking on the related link, e.g., (Photo-JL), (Drawing-HH), etc. Please note that the images that open via these links appear in a separate web browser window.


National Orange Packing House

The National Orange Company Sunkist packing house, built in 1898, was said to be the oldest, continuously operating packing house in the US. The building was on the east side of Commerce Street at 6th Street and faced the Santa Fe main line through Riverside, about two blocks north of the station. Two Santa Fe sidings came along the east side of Commerce Street directly in front of the building, shown here as it appeared in 2000.


James Lancaster Photo

This next photo shows the structures on the immediate south side of the building shown in the previous photo (Photo-JL). The tan building on the left was also part of National Orange. The building on the right was at one time (1939) Westbrook Company, a furniture and hardware business. The rear of the packing house was served by the SP Riverside Branch. You can still see the tracks in the street (Photo-JL).

This January 1975 photo by John Signor provides a slightly different view of the front of the National Orange packing house (Photo-JS). John Signor photo, used by permission.

Bill Messecar has provided a dozen color photos of the National Orange packing house. They were taken in 1999.
1. View of the west (Santa Fe) side of the building from the SW (Photo-WM)
2. Close-up view of the west side of the building (Photo-WM)
3. View of the west side of the building from the NW (Photo-WM)
4. View of the NW corner of the building (Photo-WM)
5. Close-up view of the loading dock on the west side (Photo-WM)
6. Close-up view of the steps at the NW corner (Photo-WM)
7. Roof detail at the NW corner (Photo-WM)
8. View of the north side of the building looking toward the NW corner (Photo-WM)
9. View of the north side of the building looking toward the NE corner (Photo-WM)
10. Close-up view of the juice orange loader at the NE corner (Photo-WM)
11. View of the east (SP) side of the building from the NE corner (Photo-WM)
12. View of the east side of the building from the SE corner (Photo-WM)
William Messecar photos, used by permission.

Unfortunately, the National Orange Company packing house was destroyed by fire in 2001.

The Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) web site (see below), contains additional information about the National Orange Company packing house, including this aerial view of Riverside.


HABS/HAER Photo

The view is looking west from the east side of the city. The east (SP) side of the National Orange packing house is at the left center of the image. The remaining SP trackage is visibe just below the packing house. The Santa Fe station is toward the upper left of the image with the 3rd District main line in front of the station. The UP station is near the top but somewhat hidden by trees. The Riverside Freeway (SR91) is partially visible at the top of the image.

The HABS/HAER site has many other photos including a color photo of the front of the building (Photo-HH).

Other HABS/HAER black and white and color photos include the following:
1. View of the east (SP) side of the building showing the loading doors (B&W Photo-HH)
2. Two views showing the east side from the NE corner (B&W Photo-HH) (B&W Photo-HH)
3. Two views showing the north side from the NE corner (B&W Photo-HH) (B&W Photo-HH)
4. View of the west (Santa Fe) side of the building from the NW corner (B&W Photo-HH)
5. Interior view showing workers sorting oranges (Color Photo-HH)
6. Interior view showing oranges being sorted and washed (Color Photo-HH)
7. Interior view showing the box weighing station (Color Photo-HH)
8. Interior view showing sorting and stamping grapefruit (Color Photo-HH)

The following HABS/HAER elevation drawings show three sides of the building: (1) the west (front) side as it appeared in 1906 when it was known as the Rubidoux Fruit Company (Drawing-HH); (2) the west side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH); (3) the north side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH); and the east (back) side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH). The next drawing shows a plan view of the complex with the east (back) side of the packing house and five SP tracks at the top, and the west (front) side and two ATSF tracks at the bottom (Drawing-HH), followed by a plan view of the interior of the building complex (Drawing-HH), a larger plan view of the machinery in the packing house (Drawing-HH), and a description of the orange packing process (Text-HH). The HABS/HAER photos were taken in 1991 by Brian Grogan. The source of the elevation drawings is not identified but additional information about the National Orange Company packing house, including an extensive history and more color photos, is available from the Library of Congress HABS/HAER web site (National Orange Company Data Set).

The HABS/HAER web site also contains a west-to-east cross section drawing from the Santa Fe depot to the National Orange packing house (Drawing-HH) as well as a plan view drawing of the commercial district around the National Orange packing house (Drawing-Large Version-HH) (Drawing-Small Version-HH). The drawings represent the year 1939. The source of the drawings is not specifically identified but additional information is available from the Library of Congress HABS/HAER web site (Arlington Heights Citrus Landscape Data Set).


To tour other Riverside County cities, or other counties, return to the Virtual Tour of Riverside County Page.

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