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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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Save the Date for “An Evening of Conversation with Judge Richard Egan and Madame Helena Modjeska”

In what sounds like a unique and fascinating performance, the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society is staging a dramatic conversation with local historical figures Judge Richard Egan and Madame Helena Modjeska.  Egan will be portrayed by local resident Judge Warren Siegel and the actress Modjeska will be played by local actress Jessica Morrow.  The interview will be moderated by the Historical Society’s Michelle Kelly, and will take place at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7 PM.  The Community Center is located at located  25925 Camino del Avion.  Admission is free.

Judge Richard Egan

Judge Richard Egan (1842-1923) was one of San Juan’s best known citizens for over 50 years.  Egan was a landowner, farmer, Justice of the Peace, telegrapher, notary, surveyor, agent for nearby landowners, keeper of rainfall records and dispenser of charity to the needy.   By common consent Egan was San Juan Capistrano’s alcalde in the Spanish tradition: mayor, judge, and chief dignitary.  He was friends with famed actress Helena Modjeska, who dubbed Judge Egan the “King of Capistrano.”  Judge Egan died in 1923, but his house still stands in the place where he helped local residents untangle the intricacies of American law, and amassed and important collection of historical artifacts, most of which were lost in the 1897 fire.

Madame Helena Modjeska

Helena Modjeska (1840-1909) was a world renowned actress who made her home in Orange County.  Born in Krakow, Poland, Modjeska first became famous for her work in the Polish national theater company.  In July 1876, for reasons both personal and political, Modjeska and her husband chose to emigrate to the United States.  They settled in Orange County.  Modjeska went on to achieve international acclaim for her role as a Shakespearean actress.  Modjeska’s Orange County home from 1888 to 1906 is named  “Arden” (after the forest in Shakespeare’s As You Like It) and is a registered National Historic Landmark.  Both Modjeska Canyon and Modjeska Peak (the north peak of Saddleback Mountain) are named for her.  Modjeska died in 1909 in Newport Beach.

Thank you to the SJC Historical Society for putting on these types of interesting and informative events.

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