New chapter for alumnus’ 1888 Center is just around the corner

This spring watch for the official opening of a brick-and-mortar home in Old Towne Orange for 1888 Center, a cultural arts center and publishing house founded by Chapman University alumnus Kevin Staniec ’01.

The center, which has hosted a variety of community literary programs in libraries, bookstores and even the living rooms of Eichler homes, will open its doors at 115 N. Orange St. in the historic heart of the city that inspired it.

“Since my parents drove me through the plaza in 1996 to look at the school, I’ve thought Old Towne was unique. I think this is my place. So from day one, the city and the university, it was home,” Staniec says. “Now this is going to be a second home for lifelong learning, a space to meet with your friends, to come and see art or hear people that are talking about books.”

Planned programming includes taping of The How The Why, 1888’s podcast hosted by Jon-Barrett Ingels (class of ’00), whose book, How to Succeed by Failing, was published by 1888. Staniec also envisions the center as a hub for book tour pit stops and collaborative programs with Chapman University, Orange Community Historical Society, Orange Home Grown, and regional arts organizations and veterans groups.

And there will be a coffee bar, in partnership with Contra Coffee and Tea.

“It’s going to be busy in there,” he says.

The mission of serving Orange will continue. The center will contribute to the various Elks literacy programs, including its back-to-school backpack projects, and plans to keep publishing Small Towne Short Stories, an online collection written by local authors sharing the histories of Old Towne buildings.

But Staniec expects the center’s reach to grow, making the city a cultural core for the region.

“Orange County is the seventh largest county in the nation and more than 3 million people live here. When you look at the opportunities for the arts, it’s pretty limited,” he says. “I think that once it gets going, a lot of people are going to be excited about this.”

Updates on 1888 Center’s progress may be found on its Facebook page.

Display image at top/Kevin Staniec ’01 in Old Towne Orange. Photo by Sargeant Creative

Dawn Bonker

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