Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle practiced medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Santa Ana California. She graduated from medical school in Chicago in the 1880s and moved to California with her husband to practice medicine.
Dr. and Dr. Howe were primary care physicians. Mrs. Howe, M.D. was a pillar of the community, serving most families in the community. She brought patients into her home to help them return to health. It was common for Dr. Howe to bring her patients to her home so she could be available to them. Patients stayed down stairs while the doctors and their family lived upstairs. Dr. Howe had an speaker tube installed so patients could wake her at night if they needed her.
Dr. and Dr. Howe had a Victorian home built in 1889. The family moved from Westminster into their new home. The Howe family included two daughters, Lulu and Ethel. Dr. Howe lived in the house with her first husband and daughters until Mrs. Howe M.D. divorced her husband in 1897 amidst a scandal. She later married Mr. Waffle.
The house was sold to another doctor after Dr. Howe’s death. By the 1940s, the house was turned into a boarding house. By the 1970s, the house was in bad shape and slated for demolition. The historical society stepped in to save the house. The house was moved from its original location to the corner of Sycamore and Civic Center. The Dr. Howe Waffle house celebrates the first woman doctor in Orange County.