Elephant Packing House

201 West Truslow Avenue, Fullerton, California

Before Southern California land became profitable for growing houses, its climate and rich, fertile soil was ideal for a booming citrus industry, which took root in the mid-to-late 1800s in Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Demand grew quickly for the region’s healthy and delicious seedless navels, Valencias, and other citrus fruits. Packing houses were built in many Southern California cities, especially near railroad tracks and depots for easy transport throughout the United States. Built by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1924, the Elephant Packing House was a particularly beautiful and modern citrus plant. Owned by Chicago transplant, citrus industry pioneer, and politician Charles Chapman, the Elephant Packing House sold mostly Valencia oranges from the Elephant Orchards of Redlands for about a decade before becoming the Old Mission Brand packing plant.

The one-story, 23,500 square-foot building was designed in the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival styles, which were popular in California during 1920s and 1930s and features a red-tile porch roof topped by a curved parapet flanked by square posts with Mission tile trim. The shed-style porch roof features exposed-beam ends supported by heavy braces. Solid curved cement railings line the entry steps. The packing house’s flat east-facade roof features two sawtooth skylights that provide light, ventilation, and add visual interest. 

The Elephant Packing House is one of the few remaining physical reminders of Fullerton’s once-thriving citrus industry and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Lisa Taylor