Preserving the history of Knott's Berry Farm

ARCHITECTURE AND PRESERVATION NEWS for the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee (ModCom) and other Mid Century Modern, Googie, International, Art Deco, 20th Century design

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SpaceAgeCity
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Preserving the history of Knott's Berry Farm

Postby SpaceAgeCity » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:50 am

Knott's Berry Farm has donated a large collection of historical materials to the Orange County Archives. For the first time ever, the public will have access to documents, films, ephemera and the more than 20,000 photos that tell the story of the Knott family and the business empire they created. The collection spans from the 1910s to the 2000s. When it arrived at the Archives, it filled more than 30 large boxes. (It has since been transferred into metal file cabinets.)

The only catch to this wonderful gift is that so few of the photos came with notes or captions. As such, Phil Brigandi and I are researching the "backstory" of KBF ourselves, using this newly aquired collection in conjunction with old newspaper and magazine articles, land records, other historical collections, employee newsletters, and the memories of those who knew and/or worked for the Knotts.

If you have related information or materials you'd like to share, or if you'd just like to stop by and visit us, the O.C. Archives are located in the Old O.C. Courthouse, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd, Room 101, in Santa Ana (92701). We're open Mon-Fri, 9am-Noon and 1-4:30pm. You can contact me at (714) 834-2434.

[For the record, the historical tour of KBF organized by M-M (with help from Chris Merritt) was one of my all-time favorite MODCOM events! With everything I'm learning, I may want to run a second tour for folks who missed the first one (and for those who want a refresher course).]

Chris

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:08 pm

That's wonderful news! I was once a major Knott's fan and am a former employee. Sorry to say my opinion of the place hass fallen with time and the sale of the park from family-ownership to corporate. So much of what I loved is gone, gone, gone while the rest is disappearing.

I will have to pay a visit to those archives and see those pictures of the days I miss so much. Perhaps the archives can answer the question of what happened to the Gypsy Camp—it lasted, what, a year? And burned down, according to the rumor.

Gotta get the facts and relive my youth in that Knott's archive.

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Postby Chris Merritt » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:59 pm

Nope - Gypsy Camp didn't burn down - but Knott's Bear-y Tales caught on fire while under construction (which replaced the upper deck peek ins of Gypsy Camp) - so that may be the confusion!

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Postby Futura Girl » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:05 pm

this is such wonderful news and i'm you are glad there taking a gander at things.
keep us posted on the tour and everything... i have a real soft spot in my heart for knott's.
I'm gonna keep on the run... I'm gonna have me some fun if it costs me my very last dime.
If I wind up broke up, well, I'll always remember that I had a swingin' time

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:09 pm

Gypsy Camp opened in May of 1971 and closed around 1974. Other than a second shooting gallery, an arcade, an animal show, and the acts at the John Wayne Theatre, it really didn't have many attractions.

I've heard rumors that KBF got a few angry letters from offended Gypsies -- But it was lack of public interest (not political correctness or fire) that really killed Gypsy Camp.

Marion Knott herself admitted she'd missed the mark with the Gypsy theme, and they soon re-worked the area as "The Roaring 20s," which opened in 1975. The Theatre, Bear-y Tales and the arcade remained in re-themed buildings.

An expansion of The Roaring 20s, called Knott's Airfield, opened in 1976.

Today, the whole area is now known as "The Boardwalk," although much of the 1920s theming (including a giant "Roaring 20s" sign) remain.

Chris

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:27 pm

And I hope that "Roaring 20s" neon and flickerbulb extravaganza sticks around a little while longer. Every time I see it, it seems to have lost more tubing and bulbs due to lack of maintenance. PLEASE don't let Cedar Fair toss that one out.

We just recently lost The Buffalo Nickle Arcade sign which I suspect dated to 1975.

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Postby Chris Merritt » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:19 am

Well - great related news! I just got off the phone with Knott's this morning - it looks like we (Paddy Calisto of Angel City Press is my publisher) got the green light to start my Knott's history book! I've been compiling materials on this for well over 10 years - so I'm very excited...

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:00 pm

That IS excellent news! I've been looking forward to that book for years now.

It's been quite a week for Knott's news, hasn't it? Let's review...

Mon: Knott's historical collection officially transfered to the Orange County Archives

Tues: Cordelia Knott's 117th birthday. (I hope you all had fried chicken and boysenberry pie to celebrate.)

Wed: Prospector Day. Jan 24 was long celebrated at KBF as "Prospector Day," which included various festivities and a parade. (I was thinking we could revive this with a modern twist and make it "Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day.")

Thurs: This thread is started on Lotta Livin'

Fri: Tangaroa finally gets the green light on his long-awaited KBF book!

So, what happens tomorrow for an encore?

Chris

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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:25 am

I'm first in line for that book.

Tangaroa, will your tome be specific to Knott's or will it also include other regional theme and amusement parks?

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Postby nichols » Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:24 pm

I found some 1971 Knott's gypsy camp photos over the weekend and wanted to share. Enjoy.

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:19 am

Thanks for the photos!

I think the second photo may be the band, "Hear & Now."

I love how the monkey and his handler have similar expressions!

CJ

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Postby nichols » Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:00 am

PLEASE
Stay out of circle]/i]
AND
[i]Don't tease monkey

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Lynxwiler
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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:02 pm

Hey Tangaroa, I understand you've got quite the Knott's collection, but would you be interested in seeing what else might be out there? I can photocopy my little collection and pass the pages to Paddy at Angel City Press. Perhaps there's something there you may want to get scanned for the book.

Yes?

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Lynxwiler
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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Feb 15, 2007 11:00 pm

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sky
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Postby sky » Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:21 am

Mr. Lynxwiler:

Congratulations, Modern Guru!

Welcome to the exclusive 1000 club.

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Lynxwiler
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Postby Lynxwiler » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:11 am

Aw, thanks sky. I didn't even realize that I'm now a 1000-man. Cool!


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