A Tiny Pocket of Placentia Is Full of Treasures and Pleasures

<i> Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition</i>

Tiny Bradford Park in Placentia, and the area around it, yield a turn-of-the-century house, classes in decorating items for your own home and a place where you can sell them if you do. 11 to noon: Albert Sumner Bradford was born in Maine in 1860, ran away from home at 13, and en route to California learned the art of plant propagation; he later made his fortune packing oranges. In 1902, he moved his first home slightly to one side to make space for the 15-room Queen Anne-style residence now known as Bradford House, hauling by wagon and washing river rocks from Santiago Canyon to make the foundation. Eight orange trees on the property are original. His family gave the house and 2 1/2 acres to the city in 1973.

Bradford outlived two wives--sisters, incidentally--and was outlived by a third not otherwise related; he had four children. He also raised hay of another sort, but about 100 years ago, children playing with matches set fire to his barn, burning both it and the crop. In 1977, children started another fire, which burned part of the home’s roof. Three months later, children started yet another fire that destroyed the roof and damaged the second story.

Third-graders who tour the house today are fascinated with the basement and with the sliding “pocket doors” that disappear into the walls and were designed for privacy when boys came a-calling on the Bradford girls. Adults admire cabinets that open on one side to the kitchen, on the other to the dining room, so that clean dishes can be conveniently stored and the table easily set. Above the fireplace is a cabinet where dishes could be warmed before serving. A dumbwaiter carried items from floor to floor, such as laundry to the basement.

In the upstairs hallway is a settee, or what you might call a convertible love seat: The armrests lie down, all but inviting lovers to do the same.


Among the few pieces that actually belonged to the Bradfords are a parlor sofa and chair; a fringed floor lamp; an assortment of linens and jewelry in a display cabinet; the bathtub; “The Magic Way” furnace, and a “partners desk,” designed so a person can sit on either side. Numerous butt burns on the desk suggest that one of the partners was a smoker.

The kitchen boasts sugar and flour bins and a wooden icebox.

Casually lying about is a Los Angeles Times Cookbook, price 35 cents, based on a “1905 series of prize recipe contests” and offering “1,000 toothsome cooking and other recipes, including 79 old-time California, Spanish and Mexican dishes (and) recipes of famous pioneer Spanish settlers.”

Noon to 1: It’s hard to tell which is the front door and which is the back at Sophia’s Greek Cuisine; what you find in between will take you a world away. Lunch items ($4.25 to $4.95), all served in pita bread, include the obligatory gyro, falafel and souvlaki (marinated and grilled shish kebabs), and a rib-eye steak. For those so inclined, Greek wines by the glass ($2.75) include retsina, roditis and mavrodavne .

Dinner items are available all day, and appetizer selections can easily add up to a far more interesting meal.

Saganaki ($5.95) is goat cheese dramatically lit at table-side; the ouzo flames high, and lemon is squeezed with a flourish. Octopodi ($6.95) is a generous portion of steamed octopus sliced and served in a vinaigrette.

For dessert, rizogalo ($1.95) is a light, sensuously lumpy rice pudding topped with apricot confit or chopped pistachios.

1 to 1:30: Tole painting, according to Debbie Thyr, owner of the Prairie Sampler, is “a way of making something plain something beautiful.”


Using patterns (not stencils), graphite paper to transfer designs onto objects, and diverse stroke-work, Thyr teaches aspiring tole painters to make projects of which they might never dream themselves capable.

Hanging on the walls of the shop were projects that seemed anything but simple. A buzz saw, for instance, offered a farm scene requiring six different painting techniques. Fireplace and “privacy” screens seemed almost mural-like, and a portable linen closet the work of a very skilled artisan. Call for a schedule of classes.

A monthlong series for beginners, including supplies and wood pieces, runs $140, but watching is free and almost as much fun.

1:30 to 2: “Graduates” of the Prairie Sampler might end up at Crafters’ Cottage. Jewelry, shirts, kachina figures, candy wreaths and monkeys made from socks are but a few of the items sold in booths that are rented out on a monthly basis.


Crafters set their own prices and decorate their own booths. A playroom at the rear accommodates crafters’ and customers’ kids.

The only restriction is that merchandise be handcrafted and made in the U.S.A. “Nothing manufactured, nothing overseas,” said Wendy Rawley, one of the owners, who characterized the store’s style as “country cutesy” and prices as “up to 50% (off) retail.” My 6-year-old and I are sharing a “sock monkey” that, for $15, proved irresistible.

1. Bradford House 136 Palm Circle (714) 993-2470 Tours offered first Sunday of each month, 2-4p.m.; by appointment, Tuesdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Fridays, noon-2 p.m.

2. Sophia’s Greek Cuisine 1390 N. Kraemer Blvd. (714) 528-2021 Open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.


3. Prairie Sampler 1414 N. Kraemer Blvd. (714) 579-7721 Open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Sunday, noon-5:00p.m.

4. Crafters Cottage 1478 N. Kraemer Blvd. (714) 579-7979 OpenMonday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

OCTA buses 26 (Yorba Linda to Fullerton) and 41 (La Habra to Brea) stop at Kraemer and Yorba Linda boulevards, near the Bradford House.