Caroline Gardner, who will graduate with a degree in history from Chapman University this spring, is currently working as a historical preservation intern for the the City of Orange. The internship is funded by the Anne Siebert Scholarship, an honorarium provided by the Old Towne Preservation Association (OTPA) that supports interns who assist the city’s
community development department with various preservation projects.

Gardner is shadowing preservation planning staff who are doing reviews on historic district properties, including a project aimed at preserving and promoting the city’s Eichler homes. Orange has more of the iconic residences than any community outside of San Francisco, which makes the city a hot destination for anyone interested in midcentury modern architecture.

“It obviously brings in a lot of tourism,” says Gardner, whose interest in public history started early. “I grew up in Rhode Island, where history is integrated into your everyday life,” she says, speaking of old buildings and even older families. “It’s these tangible pieces of history that make understanding the past clear,” she says. “The efforts to preserve these
homes allows you to have a better sense of the roots of Orange.”

Sandy Quinn, OTPA president, says the mission of the 35-year-old non-profit organization is to “preserve, protect and enhance the historic character and unique charm of Old Towne Orange.” The scholarship is named for the late Anne Siebert, a tireless Old Towne community leader, who was a founder and president of the organization.

“She was instrumental in getting the State to designate Old Towne as a Residential Historic District, the largest in California,” says Quinn. Old Towne has over 1,400 homes and business structures built during and before 1940, and the group wants to ensure that they are properly preserved.

Gardner plans to pursue a career in public history and has plans to apply for MA programs in the field after graduation.