Kevin Staniec, Founder and Executive Director of 1888: Cultural Center

Photo Courtesy of Sargeant Creative.

By Daniel Langhorne

1888: Cultural Center took up residence Dec. 1 in a portion of the Orange Elks Lodge, with the intention of establishing itself as a community gathering place and, ultimately, helping to transform Orange into an artistic hub in Southern California.

Kevin Staniec, executive director of 1888, partnered with Santa Ana-based Contra Coffee & Tea to fund the construction of the cultural center, which will host a coffee bar. For months, Staniec and his wife Janet Kim, treasurer of the nonprofit, have anticipated getting the keys to the storefront.

“We’d walk by, and just dream about what we’re able to do,” he said.

History is central to 1888: Cultural Center’s identity; its namesake is the year Orange was founded. 

Staniec, an Orange resident and Chapman University alumnus, considered developing the center at the historic Sunkist Orange County Fruit Exchange Building at Glassell Street and Almond Avenue. However, he now believes 1888 was meant to be at its Orange Street location.

The storefront’s longest term tenant was Meadows Printing, which is fitting, considering one of the nonprofit’s missions is to publish novellas, short stories and other creative writings. “It’s almost like it was written for us,” Staniec said. 

Demolition inside the storefront is expected to start in December, and construction will likely start in January, Staniec said. He plans to host a soft launch of the bookshop, coffee bar and art gallery in February.

“This is a second home for the community, and we want to get everyone involved, whether that’s individual donors, or community groups that can use the space,” he said.

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1888: Cultural Center finds home  at Orange Elks Lodge building