Historical Stories - 1950s

Monsignor_DolanThe first recorded mention of expanding the parish to include a school is in a letter dated December 23, 1954, from Retired Rev. Monsignor Bernard J. Dolan to Most Reverend Francis J. McIntyre, the Archbishop of Los Angeles.  As one of the Archbishop’s Diocese Consultors, Monsignor Dolan of St. Anthony’s parish in Long Beach was responsible for overseeing the new parishes and missions in Huntington Beach and surrounding communities.  Fr. Austin Green, the Pastor of Sts. Simon & Jude at the time, asked Monsignor Dolan to look into obtaining a new site for the parish and proposed school. 

Monsignor Dolan stated, “I was quite surprised to find that there were so many excellent pieces of property to be acquired.”  The most interesting and largest was a 20-acre parcel at the corner of Talbert and Cannery (later to be named Magnolia).  An elderly French couple owned the parcel and were anxious to sell it and move back to France.  They wanted $60,000 for the entire parcel, but indicated that they might accept less if offered cash, as the other offers they received offered little cash.  The parcel also included oil rights, which further enhanced its appeal.  Monsignor Dolan strongly suggested, “Something should be done speedily if it is to be acquired.”

Five other properties were listed as well, ranging from five to eight acres in size and from $3,500 to $8,000 an acre in price, with only one including half oil rights.  One eight-acre site was indicated to be across from the cemetery at the corner of Talbert and Huntington Highway, which today is the site of St. Vincent DePaul Parish.  Reverend Dolan again urged Archbishop McIntyre and his Council to take a look at these properties, as they “most certainly would increase in value by more than $2,000 per acre within the next year.”

The discovery of oil placed a premium on much of the land, not for building purposes, but for the drilling for oil.  The original purchase of the Protestant Church property at 321 Tenth Street included a number of lots.  In a letter dated January 30,1955, to Father Austin Green, the Pastor of Sts. Simon & Jude, a proposal was made whereby the owner of oil wells directly across the street from the new church would purchase a lease from the church to obtain rights to drill for oil on the church property.  The lease would provide the rights to “whipstock” (a method of drilling at angles to enable the drilling for oil under buildings and under adjacent properties) from across the street and would not disturb the church property.  The lease rate would be $400 per month, paid four months in advance and a royalty of 14 ½ percent of all oils and gas recovered from any oil wells bottomed under the church property.

The Transcontinental Oil Company also proposed leasing the oil rights.  Their offer provided a $10,000 payment in advance for the first six months of the lease and a 16 2/3 percent royalty.  Lessee to receive “whipstock” drilling rites to other properties to which Lessor will retain 2 percent override in each well drilled.  Unfortunately, the oil leases proved worthless.  In a letter dated August 29, 1955, from The Reverend Joseph T. McGucken, the Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Los Angeles – San Diego Diocese, to Attorney Mary E. Waters, he states “You may recall that we made the attached oil lease on the church property at Huntington Beach which involved a $10,000 bonus to the parish.  Apparently the company never proceeded to drill the well because presumably they lost their financial backing.  The Pastor has not been able to contact the principals, and in the meantime the oil excitement there has completely subsided.  In view of these facts, His Eminence directed me to consult you as to whether there is anything we should do about the lease so that the title to the property will not be encumbered by it.”

That same year Sts. Simon & Jude Parish was authorized to purchase a five-acre parcel at 17721 Newland Street for $17,500 as the future site of a new Church.  At the same time, a 7.64-acre parcel of land (owned by the Catholic Welfare Bureau) between Atlanta and Hamilton was also being considered for the relocation of Sts. Simon & Jude Parish.  The Diocese was also interested in a 10-acre parcel owned by the Flynn Estate on the southwest corner of Atlanta and Cannery, and in 1961, the diocese purchased a 10-acre parcel at 7802 Newland directly across the street from the property purchased by the parish.

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