Historic Packinghouses and Other Industrial Structures
in Southern California

NATIONAL  ORANGE COMPANY.
 ORANGES     Sunkist   GRAPEFRUIT

Riverside, Ca

Copyright 2007 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.
 


The National Orange Company Sunkist packinghouse, built in 1898, was said to be the oldest, continuously operating packing house in the US. The building was on the east side of Pachappa Avenue (now Commerce St.) at 6th Street and faced the Santa Fe main line through Riverside, a block northeast of the Santa Fe depot. Two Santa Fe sidings ran along the east side of Pachappa Avenue directly in front of the building.

The first photo by John Signor (Figure 1) shows the front of the active packinghouse in 1975. Note the white border around the words "National Orange Company."


Figure 1. John Signor Photo.

The next photo (Figure 2) was taken by Keith Jordan in June 1987. The sign over the loading dock has become somewhat more faded. Note also that posts have been added to support the roof over the loading dock. Also note the two tracks in the pavement.

Figure 2. Keith Jordan Photo.

The next photo (Figure 3), also taken by Keith Jordan in June 1987, shows painters preparing the sign for repainting.


Figure 3. Keith Jordan Photo.

In August 1987 Keith Jordan again photographed the packinghouse (Figure 4). The sign had been repainted but the white border around the words "National Orange Company" was no longer there. Note some peeling paint below the word Grapefruit that's also visible in the previous photos. It also appears that some white paint was spilled on the roof below the "n" in Sunkist.

Figure 4. Keith Jordan Photo.

By 1991 the repainted sign was beginning to fade a little. Figure 5 is from the Library of Congress (LOC) Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) web site (see below).

Figure 5. LOC HABS/HAER Photo.

Bob Chaparro also photographed the packinghouse in 1991 (Figure 6). His April photo is from a slightly different angle than the LOC photo.


Figure 6. Bob Chaparro Photo.

Cliff Prather photographed the front of the packinghouse from the southwest in June 1993 (Figure 7).


Figure 7. Cliff Prather Photo.

Bill Messecar photographed the front of the packinghouse, also from the southwest, in 1999 (Figure 8). There has been some reinforcement of the lower part of the loading dock.


Figure 8. Bill Messecar Photo.

A second photo by Bill (Figure 9) shows that posts have been added to support the near end of the loading dock roof.


Figure 9. Bill Messecar Photo.

The last photo of the front shows the packinghouse as it appeared in May 2000 (Figure 10). This is the last photo I have seen of National Orange. In 2001 it was destroyed by fire.


Figure 10. James Lancaster Photo.

Bill Messecar has provided additional color photos of the National Orange packing house. They were all taken in 1999.

  • Close-up view of the west side of the building (Photo-WM)
  • View of the NW corner of the building (Photo-WM)
  • Close-up view of the loading dock on the west side (Photo-WM)
  • Close-up view of the steps at the NW corner (Photo-WM)
  • Roof detail at the NW corner (Photo-WM)
  • View of the north side of the building looking toward the NW corner (Photo-WM)
  • View of the north side of the building looking toward the NE corner (Photo-WM)
  • Close-up view of the juice orange loader at the NE corner (Photo-WM)
  • View of the east (SP) side of the building from the NE corner (Photo-WM)
  • View of the east side of the building from the SE corner (Photo-WM)

William Messecar photos, used by permission.

An additional photo shows the structures on the immediate south side of the main packinghouse building (Photo-JL). The tan building on the left was also part of National Orange. The building on the right is at the location that 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).

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.


Figure 11. LOC HABS/HAER Photo

The view above (Figure 11) 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:

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).


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