The Dr. Howe-Waffle House

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Alvin and Willella Howe were both prominent physicians in the Orange County part of Southern California. The two decided to build a mansion in 1889 for the groundbreaking sum of $3,000, which was quite a bit once one adjusts for economic climate of the time. The house is one of the prime examples of a Victorian home built in the Queen Ane style to have survived over time, and it was physically moved in order to keep it in-tact.

Willella Howe was one of the country’s first female doctors, and over her 38 years of practice she delivered a total of more than 1,000 babies. She came to Orange County in 1878, during a time when there were few established roads through the area. She recalled frequent floods, paths through cactus patches and long rides through mud and dust.

She married Dr. Alvin Howe and moved into their orante home in 1889, but their time as a couple was short lived. Dr. Alvin Howe was accused of performing an abortion, and although he was acquitted he chose to leave Orange County rather than face disgrace.

Willella stayed in the home with her daughters, and although it was hard at times she held her head high.

Today, the house stands as a museum of those days and of the state of medicine. It was moved in 1975 in order to avoid getting swept up in an urban renewal project, and it was restored to its current glory. Open to tours, the house is an official historic landmark and California Point of Interest.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Facebook.

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