Pines Park and Palisades Gazebo Park may receive mounted plaques designating the sites’ historical significance after City Council voted unanimously to approve an application to the Orange County Historical Commission (OCHC) during its June 20 meeting.
The OCHC’s Historical Site Plaque Program designates local sites and structures of significance with a bronze plaque containing a description of the site and the year it was established.
According to the staff report, Pines Park and Palisades Gazebo Park would be the second and third historic resources within the city to receive plaques from the Orange County Historical Commission.
The city already has a county park plaque in Dana Point Harbor at the site of the old elevator shaft that remains from an abandoned hotel development from 1930.
Dana Point previously added the two parks to its own list of historic sites in October 2022 with the aim of memorializing Palisades Gazebo Park and Pines Park’s history for the community.
Representing the Dana Point Historical Society, longtime Dana Point resident Keith Johannes shared the history of the two parks during the June 20 council meeting.
“As we all know, Capistrano Beach is a very unique part of our city and has its own unique history, and the parks within that have their own history that we would like to see put forward,” Johannes said.
Johannes explained that in 1969, Capistrano Bay Parks and Recreation sold Pines Park to a developer that intended to put up houses on the land.
“The developer started putting one house up, and the community rose up and said, ‘This can’t be,’ ” Johannes said.
“So, they took this to court, because some of the homeowners had in their deeds that this park would be there for the use of the community,” Johannes continued. “So, they took this to the courts, it took two years, actually went all the way to the California Supreme Court, and the District was able to get the park back.”
The same year that the Capistrano Bay District retained ownership of Pines Park, the Palisades Gazebo was set to be demolished, but once again, the community rallied to protect the iconic gazebo
The original gazebo on Palisades Drive was restored in 1978, according to the Dana Point Historical Society.
“These kinds of things, having plaques for history, bring discussions of history in the city and can really help us learn more,” Johannes said.
Barbara Johannes, a Fifth District representative of the Orange County Historical Commission and Dana Point Historical Society president, explained that it may take four to six months at minimum to install the historical plaques, if approved.
After the city sends its application to the historical commission, it’ll be placed on a future OCHC agenda. Within 90 days of receiving a completed application, OCHC will notify the city whether or not the historical designation and plaque have been approved.
If the OCHC approves plaques for the two sites, an event will be held to reveal the plaques to the community, Johannes explained.