Welcoming you to The Richland Hotel
Welcoming you to The Richland Hotel

The Richland is comprised of a three-story home built in 1906, flanked by the former chapel (now an events ballroom) and 1960’s-era building that now serves as the hotel’s office/check-in area.

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Recently unveiled in Old Towne Orange, The Richland Hotel is Orange County’s newest luxury boutique hotel and event space, bringing new life to the century-old family residence and business adjacent to Chapman University at 137 East Maple Ave.

The Richland is truly a family affair with the focus on serving the local community.  Indeed, the community has always been at the heart of this historic property, which for more than 85 years belonged to the Shannon family, owners of Shannon Family Mortuary, which has since relocated to East Chapman in Old Towne.

Seeing the potential for the site, while recognizing the inherent challenges, Tustin-based developer/investor Hicham Semaan, along with partners Patty Semaan and Dr. Steve Yu, purchased the property in 2019.

An integral member of the Old Towne community, Semaan has previously developed several historic properties, including new restaurants Snooze, Wazabi Sushi, The Taco Stand and Bluestone Lane Café. 

Sterling hospitality abounds at The Richland boutique hotel in Old Towne Orange.  Pictured here are (from left) Katherine Jimenez, front desk, Robert Bennett, bar manager, Erandi Morales Foster, venue and event producer, (front) Sarah Nye, venue and event manager and Anthony  Arambulo, head chef.

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Showcasing a vaulted ceiling and exposed wood beams, the former chapel (built in the 1930s) has been transformed into The Estelle Ballroom and accommodates up to 200 guests.

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Before acquiring the Shannon property, Semaan originally envisioned converting the property into an enclave of restaurants and housing.  Feedback from community leaders, neighbors and city staff, however, led him to embrace the idea of opening a boutique hotel instead.

“Initially, we planned for the hotel to be a family business run by myself, my wife, Patty, and our children,” says Semaan, managing partner of H.S. Real Estate, LLC.

“After we acquired all the permits and approvals, we went through the design-review process and completed the construction plan.  We then looked to partner on the kitchen and event space, and that’s when we found 24 Carrots and decided to turn the entire project over to 24 Carrots Catering & Events, including the day-to-day operations of the hotel.

“We were so impressed with 24 Carrots from the start and felt they would be the perfect fit for the community and a great fit for the finishing touches,” continues Semaan.  “They pulled in a lot of resources from the local area, including suppliers, designers, subcontractors and furnishings, mostly from Orange.  They have done a spectacular job in designing The Richland and have left no stone unturned in taking our original vision to a world-class level.”

Open to the public, the Living Room Bar and Lounge includes a marble-topped cocktail bar, custom barstools (crafted by Sean Woolsey Studio in Costa Mesa), original hardwood flooring, a fireplace and cozy nooks for socializing.

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Opened on February 2, 2023, The Richland features 12 guest rooms and suites, a cozy “living room” lounge and cocktail bar, as well as a large ballroom and indoor/outdoor gathering spaces for 200+ guests.

Built in 1906, the three-story main residence, plus the 1908 home behind the parking lot, had always been used as residences.  As a matter of fact, every one of the 12 guest suites occupies what were residences or office areas or were new additions.

The historic home combines traditional California Craftsman with San Francisco-style Victorian architecture.  Added in the 1930s, the chapel is now transformed into an events space/ballroom perfect for receptions, parties and rehearsal dinners.  The hotel’s office and check-in area is located in the 1960’s portion of the main structure facing East Maple Ave.  There is also a cottage at 230 North Orange St., which is a 2-bedroom home available for overnight stays.

Lynn Wagoner, Chief Business Development Officer for 24 Carrots, says The Richland is their first hotel project in the 19 years they’ve been in business.  The Costa Mesa-based company used the interior design talents of Raili Clasen of RailiCA Design.  They also sourced many antiques and accessories from Old Towne merchants, including Country Roads Antiques—everything from rotary phones and decanters to vases, artwork and accents.

The spacious kitchen in the Cottage is perfect for entertaining.

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Located behind the parking lot, the two-bedroom Cottage is available for overnight stays and includes a kitchen and spacious living areas.  Interior design was done by RailiCA Design of Costa Mesa.

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“This is a community project from beginning to end,” says Wagoner.  “We used as many local resources as we could, every step of the way.  We went through several rounds of approvals with the city’s design committee for all the exteriors, including final paint colors, exterior lighting and landscaping.  Many of our subcontractors are from right here in Orange.”

From the original oak floors and staircases to the original windows, doors and trim, the entire renovation retains as much of the historic architectural elements as possible.  The kitchen and living space of the original home was located on the second floor.  The attic space on the third floor is now a guest suite.  There is also a “get ready” room on the second floor designed for wedding parties.

“In the former chapel, we opened up the entire space, including the organ room above,” says Wagoner.  “There was a drop ceiling in the chapel. We exposed the original roofline and rafters.”

According to Wagoner, the most challenging feat was pulling back the previous front-lobby building in order to reveal the original facade of the 1906 home.

The heart of the hotel is the Living Room Bar and Lounge located inside the first floor of the main residence.  From the street, one can see into the bar through the front window.

Located on the second floor of the main residence, the “Get Ready Room” offers a preparation space for wedding parties, and is accessed via a private staircase.

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Tastefully appointed, twelve unique guest suites occupy residential spaces within and around the historic home.

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The Attic Suite is located on the third floor of the 1906-era main residence.

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Serving craft cocktails and artisan appetizers and entrées, the bar is currently open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 5 pm to 11 pm.  Craft beer on tap is brewed by Chapman Crafted Beer of Old Towne.  Chapman Crafted’s coffee is served for continental breakfast.

Fast becoming a popular gathering spot, the bar and lounge area includes a fireplace, built-in seating nook, leather sofas, marble coffee tables, a marble cocktail bar and custom-made barstools.

“Outside just below entry stairs is a cozy patio for outdoor dining,” says Wagoner.  “Access into the kitchen space is through a ‘secret’ door designed as a bookshelf to complement the cozy library feel of the lounge.”

Specializing in weddings, 24 Carrots is the only catering company in Southern California to offer an exclusive hotel/venue experience.

The 24 Carrots team includes Sarah Nye, venue and event manager; Erandi Morales Foster, venue and event producer; Katherine Jimenez, front desk; Anthony Arambulo, executive sous chef and head chef at The Richland and Robert Bennett, bar manager.

Since The Richland’s official debut, the response from the community has been positive, says Wagoner.  “Most people who visit are excited to see the new life of the building.  Old Towne is a great ‘staycation’ destination, especially for parents of Chapman University students who want to visit.  We are also offering full-house rentals for wedding parties and other kinds of events.  There is a tremendous amount of support for all our offerings at The Richland right here in Old Towne Orange.”

The Richland Hotel
137 East Maple Ave., Old Towne Orange CA 92866  /  714-942-6120

Article Published in the
Mar / Apr 23 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
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