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Laguna Hills Civic Center​

by in Exhibits

The vaquero on horseback amid cattle brands display, is currently hanging on the feature wall in the Civic Center lobby, depicts the raising and branding of cattle, which was prevalent during the rancho period. Framing the display are branding irons from many famous historical figures, including Mexico’s last governor Pio Pico; Don Juan Avila, a former owner of vast amounts of land during the rancho period; and the branding irons of South Orange County historical icons Lewis Moulton, Richard O’Niell, Dwight Whiting and James Irvine.

The city of Laguna Hills honors the ranching heritage of this area. Moulton Ranch was founded by Lewis Moulton and he has his “LM” brand on the Our Ranch Heritage display. Nellie Gail Moulton has an exhibition case featuring the family’s history.

Terra Cotta Busts – There are six life-sized terra cotta busts in the lobby. They feature Orange County pioneers. The Saddleback Valley landowners operated cattle ranches in our rolling hills. These busts were created with adobe clay by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.

Nellie Gail Display Case – Interpretive Signage

Four panels representing early California themes on the lobby wall were developed for display in the Civic Center lobby representing specific themes and time periods: Native Americans; The Portola Expedition; Early Ranchos; and From Ranchos to Cities.

Laguna Hills officially became a City on March 5, 1991 when 86% of the residents voted in favor of forming the City of Laguna Hills. Subsequent annexations have included the North Laguna Hills (1996) and the “Westside Annexation” (2000) areas. The latter included 149 acres (0.60 km2) of residential land, including the Aliso Viejo Community Association’s Sheep Hills Park.

The Moulton Museum is a member of the Laguna Hills Chamber of Commerce. We hope to plan events with them in 2021 for the 30th anniversary of the city. Follow their events here.

City of Laguna Hills | School Curriculum
The City of Laguna Hills welcomes you to the Early History of Orange County – Discovery, Settlement, and Land Use Curriculum Guide. This curriculum guide has been developed to coordinate with the City’s Civic Center Public Art Program. Laguna Hills is committed to utilizing art in public spaces to educate students about the early history of the Saddleback Valley and Orange County, California.

We welcome you to utilize the guide, class activities, and tour opportunities to enhance your student’s understanding of Orange County’s early inhabitants, the changes in the use and ownership of the land, what remains of our past, and how the past has shaped our present.

Educational Programs
Teachers may schedule docent led tours of the Laguna Hills Civic Center throughout the year at no charge. Docent volunteers cater to the visiting group’s grade level and will place emphasis on certain subject areas per the teacher’s request.

3rd Grade School Tour
In this tour, emphasis is placed on the changing use of land in the Orange County area. Beginning with the life of the American Indian, students will be exposed to the different cultures, to the events that changed land uses, and how the rich land of our area sustained each settlement.

Pre-Visit Activities
Acjachemen Vocabulary Coloring Sheet (PDF)
Daily Life of Mission Indians (PDF)
Native American Village Map (PDF)
Post-Visit Activities
Comparison Chart (PDF)
Mural Coloring Sheets (PDF)
Portola Campsite Map (PDF)
4th Grade School Tour
For the 4th grade tour, emphasis is placed on the Rancho Period of early Orange County. Discussion includes how and why land ownership changed, how each culture was affected, and how the rich land of our area sustained each settlement.
Pre-Visit Activities
Rancho Map (PDF)
Landowners and Branding Irons (PDF)
Branding Iron Art (PDF)
Post-Visit Activities
Making Your Own Diary (PDF)
Rancho Life (PDF)
Life on a Rancho (PDF)
Map Making – Creating a Diseno (PDF)
5th Grade School Tour
Fifth grade students will be exposed to the settlement patterns of the Orange County area. Emphasis will be placed on the economic and geographic opportunities of the area. Students will discuss how the present is connected to the past, identifying both similarities and differences between the 2, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same.
Pre-Visit Activities
Early Landowner Map Rancho Map (PDF)
Family History Rancho Map (PDF)
Native American Village Map (PDF)
Orange County Map Review (PDF)
Rancho Map (PDF)
Post-Visit Activities
Compare and Contrast (PDF)
Compare and Contrast Landowner Biographies (PDF)
Farming Brochure (PDF)
Farming Brochure Cover Page (PDF)
Farming Brochure Worksheet (PDF)
I Am Poem (PDF)
Plan a Visit And & Tour
To schedule a tour of the Laguna Hills Civic Center, contact the Community Services Department at 949-707-2680.