park entrance

Heritage Hill Historical Park (est. 1981, rededicated 1985)
25151 Serrano Road
Lake Forest, California 92630
(949) 923-2230

El Toro (Spanish for "the bull") was renamed Lake Forest in 1991, a more commercially marketable name that highlighted its man-made lakes and eucalyptus groves and erased a vigorous reminder of its original Spanish-Mexican heritage. The historical park preserves four structures that, with the exception of the José Serrano Adobe, were moved to their present location.

Photos copyright © September 2009 Kat Avila
TIME OF DAY: late morning and mid-afternoon
CAMERA: Canon 780 IS
NOTES: I got two different moods by returning a few hours later. The bright sun can either highlight details or wash them out. For the church, the less intense p.m. lighting allowed for discovery of dramatic reddish brown tones in the wooden pews and floor.
historical site sign
"Vivid reminders of El Toro's past are preserved
in Orange County's first historical park.
The Serrano Adobe (circa 1863), El Toro Grammar
School (1890), St. George's Episcopal Mission (1891),
and Harvey Bennett Ranch House (1908) reflect the history of
the area from the Rancho Cañada de Los Alisos to its
development as an agricultural community."

O.C. Historical Site No. 32
time capsule
Beneath this plaque lies a
time capsule to be opened
in 2041 for Lake Forest's
50th anniversary as a city.
hand water pump
hand water pump & trough
reflecting eucalyptus trees
Didn't know the outhouse
was "occupied."
picnic area
picnic area
among pepper trees
horse-drawn hay wagon
The garden includes corn,
tomatoes, and chili peppers.
horse stables
Serrano Creek Equestrian
is behind the park
(which accounts for the
smell of horse manure).
horse stables
horses at Serrano Creek
Equestrian Center
Serrano Adobe (circa 1863)
Longhorn cattle rancher Don* José Serrano was the original grantee of the 10,688-acre Rancho Cañada de Los Alisos.
*Don is a Spanish-language courtesy title used for men of high social status.
Serrano Adobe
walkway to Serrano
Adobe and park office
historic landmark sign
State of California
Historic Landmark No. 199

"La casa de adobe de José Serrano
Home of José Serrano, original grantee of
Rancho Cañada de Los Alisos
Restored A.D. 1932"
living room
living room

The horns above the fireplace
belong to a longhorn steer.
living room lamp
family photos
Serrano family photographs
in living room
dining room
dining room
statue loom
loom in dining room
George Whiting's additions
to the adobe in 1932.
outdoor ovens
outdoor ovens
adobe horno oven
traditional adobe horno
(oven) used in the Southwest
adobe horno oven
adobe horno (oven)
open pit oven
open pit oven
open pit oven
open pit oven
St. George's Episcopal Mission (1891)
church bell altar lamp lantern
pews organ room bouquet padre padre
El Toro Grammar School (1890-1914)
It was St. Anthony's Catholic Church from 1915-1968.
school school front of classroom schoolboard schoolroom
Harvey Bennett Ranch House (1908)
Citrus farmer Charles F. Bennett built the ranch house for a servant. Later, his son Harvey Bennett took over the house.
Bennett Ranch House Wagon Wheel Corral gate
Wagon Wheel Corral gate
Bennett Ranch House
Bennett Ranch House
ranch house sign
The Harvey Bennett
Ranch House, 1908
corral gate and tractor
buggy barn
buggy barn

The barn houses a visitor
center with historical
photos and exhibits.
(horse-drawn carriage)
El Toro Reserve Firefighters,
Station 19
facing the doorway
Native American Indian Village (before 1769)
The Acjachemen Nation (aka Juaneños, associated with Mission San Juan Capistrano) resided in the local area.
hut diorama
diorama window
reflecting surroundings
kìicha or wickiup
Looking into the kìicha,
a traditional family dwelling
made of willow saplings and
reeds (aka tules).
inside the kìicha