History of Fairhaven Memorial Park Mortuary
A Part of Orange County's History and Yours
Fairhaven Memorial Park was created in 1911 by the visionary, Oliver Linden Halsell. Several other business people in the community assisted with this endeavor, including Horatio Forgy. The park was created as a Memorial Park versus a cemetery. Memorial Parks are distinguished by flat markers versus upright markers, so that the visitors to the park feel as if they are in the quiet solitude of a park, with the expanse of green lawns and the splendor of majestic trees. Oliver developed the park for the living, where families could come and visit their loved ones in a park-like setting. Oliver had no children, so before his death, he created what is now known as the O.L. Halsell Foundation. The Foundation supports charities throughout Orange County and owns a large part of Fairhaven.
Oliver was responsible for developing one of the first Mausoleums in Orange County. The front part of the Historic Mausoleum was built in 1916. Most Mausoleums are constructed in phases because of the vast expense involved in the construction of this type of building. In the mid 1930’s, Oliver had the foresight to install a crematory during the last part of construction to the Historic Mausoleum, making this one of the first crematories in Orange County. This mausoleum has many of Orange County founders interred within, including the Moulton family, the Fluor family and members of the Irvine family. Several famous actors or those affiliated with Hollywood are also interred in this beautiful Historic building. There are only a few crypts and niches left available for entombment or cremation inurnment in this Mausoleum.
After Oliver’s death in the mid-1950’s, the Foundation constructed Waverley Church to commemorate Oliver, his wife Della and mother Susan. The church was constructed to copy the architecture of English churches. Historically in England, if a building was not completed, you would not have to pay taxes, so many churches left off the steeple. This is the reason for Waverley Church's distinctive square tower. Waverley is used frequently for both weddings and funerals.
In 1976, the Mortuary building was constructed. A flower shop was included in the building, so that families could have the convenience of a single location for taking care of their loved ones when a death occurred. The mortuary has a chapel which seats approximately 80 people, and until 1995 was furnished with sofas and chairs instead of pews for a home-like atmosphere. To enable families to have more choices for services, Fairhaven installed curtains in the Historic Mausoleum and added pads to the seating to facilitate the sound during a service. Although, this would be contrary to Charleton Heston’s wishes. Heston is said to have used the Historic Mausoleum when recording his part as Moses in the Ten Commandments because of the God-like affect of the sound. In addition to Waverley, the mortuary chapel and the chapel in the Historic mausoleum, Fairhaven also created a Pavilion in North Gardens, part of our newest area, for the convenience of families who wish to have a gathering close to the interment site.
Many families come to enjoy the park every week, and also enjoy the many events that are held at Fairhaven. Please look for the events to see what else is going on around Fairhaven.