Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knaggs Berry Towne

On Wednesday I mentioned my parents property on Ventura Blvd in Studio City called Knaggs Berry Towne.
My parents bought it in the late 1960's.

It was a small motel probably from the 1940's that had about 8 units each with a double car garage where you could park your car and on the right front corner there was a gas station.

My dad networked with all the prop people he knew until he got together enough wood and facade materials to turn the entire thing into an old western town.

They rented out each renovated motel room to small store owners who sold everything from hand made crafts to old books to small bakery items. The front store on the left was my parents antique store and the old gas station was turned into a hamburger stand called "Billy Goodins".
They also rented it out as locations for movies, TV shows and once for a Playboy photoshoot.

It thrived for several years until they got a few bad tenants and they got tired of hassling with them to pay the rent and keep the place clean. There was also small deli in the back that apparently was selling more than just sandwiches and got shut down by the police.

They closed it down in the mid 1970's and it sat unused for the next 20+ years except for the old hamburger stand that got walled in and made into a Thai food restaurant called the "Thai Spoon".

This place was a huge part of childhood and I have mixed feelings about it.
I spent so many hours there, alone, while my parents worked on it.
I used to watch old game shows on a little black and white TV they kept upstairs above the general store in a small room that was always hotter than Hades because it was uninsulated.
But downstairs they had an old fashioned glass candy counter and I always got to choose a few pieces of candy to take upstairs with me... and we know how great that is for a kid.

I came across some pictures recently....

Here is a shot from across the street

This is the front sign

This is my parents antique shop the called "The Antiquest".
Somewhere I have a close up of the painted sign on the roof line.
Its a mermaid and I have no idea how that relates to antiques, but I guess it made sense to them.

This was one of the old motel units made over into shops. Actually when I look closer, it was one of the car ports that was transformed into 2 plain stores. The motel units actually had a bathroom and shared a small kitchen between them.

This was the "Star General Store" that my parents ran.
It was a popular place for the kids of the day to stop by on the way home from school and buy sweets from the giant glass candy counter in the back.
In it's heyday there were display pieces in those upper windows.

Here the Towne is making a cameo appearance on Emergency.
The firemen are going into "Oil Can Harry's" which was a gay bar and I can proudly say that was where I had my 6th birthday party. Surprisingly every one my kindergarten class showed up.
Yeah my parents were a bit ahead of their time. 

One thing I forgot to mention is that when my parents bought the place it came with an old lady who lived in the very back unit and refused to move. Her name was Irene and she was well into her 80's or older. My parents let her live there rent free for years. She smoked like a chimney and mostly sat in the room (which only had one window in the kitchen) and listened to the radio. As a kid I always felt sorry for her that she was alone. She had no family we knew of. Eventually my parents talked her into moving into an old age home (they paid for it) and it totally transformed her life. We went by to visit her a couple times a month and she was always playing the piano or socializing with the other people. She eventually died but I was happy that the last years of her life she had people around and seemed genuinely happy.

These next pictures are when the shops were done up for a movie that was shot there in about 1972 called "The Christmas Visit".

It starred Marty Allen who was a Christmas Elf trying to help a little boy learn about the magic of Christmas.
A really original theme.
It was made for TV and I believe that you can still buy it on Amazon.

Because my parents were always looking for an opportunity to push me into the spotlight, they got the director to let me be in the parts of the movie that was shot here.

This is a long shot from the sidewalk.
That plastic snow got everywhere and literally years later we were still finding it under stairs and in cracks.

They brought in a horse and buggy which I loved

Some more crew shots

And there's me,  right in the middle, overdressed in the fancy bonnet, red velvet coat and mink muff (I was supposed to be an urchin but apparently it paid better for me than the others).
This was my mom's way of making sure I was seen.

And the piece de resistance was having a bunch of publicity shots taken with the two stars of the show.
Of course my mom showed the photos to everyone and told them how I starred in a movie and she had the pictures to prove it.
Updated to add that the boy (Billy Simpson) who actually starred in the movie found me a Facebook and gave me a copy of the movie so I was able to watch my stellar performance for the first time! It was a real treat I have to say.

So there was my 15 minutes of fame.
Even if it was mostly fabricated.

I guess no one can say I didn't have an interesting childhood.

Jeff and I finally sold the place awhile back and unfortunately it was in such disrepair that the people who bought it tore it all down except the Antiquest building which last time I drove past, was the office for the used car lot that they put there.

It feels a little like a movie where you can see what used to be there in flashbacks but when you look at what it is now, it's very surreal and you can't quite get your head around the fact that it's all gone.


Anonymous said...

I was watching the 1970's TV show Emergency and Knaggs Berry Towne is directly in the backround of one of the rescue scenes in the show. It is Season 4, Episode 4, "Nagging Suspicion".

Melora said...

I will check it out!!

JB said...

I actually just saw that same episode of Emergency and I always try to look up locations when you can actually see signs in the show.

What was the address of the old Berry Towne? I know it was on Ventura, but what was the intersection? I'd like to check it out now on Google maps.

Melora said...

The address was 11480 Ventura Blvd on the corner of Berry Drive.

LemonDrop said...

Now I am confused. I read your comments, and looked it up. The old facade has been removed, and the buildings are a bright orange. But the used car lot looks to be the lot on which the rescue in Emergency 4:4 took place. It was a nightclub in the rescue. But those old orange buildings look identical to your photos re: the movie.

LemonDrop said...

I just tried to post, but it seems to have disappeared. I went to the address on Google Street View, and the orange buildings look exactly like the movie stills. It looks like the car lot is actually the nightclub next door that was the scene of the rescue. I am wondering if you are off by one lot? I looked again at the stills, and from what I can tell, the facade was removed, but not the buildings. They are for sale in the most recent Google pics.

Melora said...

Hi Lemondrop!
The orange buildings are the hotel next door to Knaggs Berry Town. The driveway between those buildings is MUCH smaller than my dads place. Universal Auto is on the old property. The office is what is left of the Antiquest. In the first picture on blog post you can see that the buildings are directly on the corner. In the third picture (on the blog)showing the Antiquest building the second door on the right is covered over with the old facade and a bench. That door is now visible on the car lots office.
It makes me so sad to that it is gone!!!

LemonDrop said...

Ah yes. Forgive my return look... my two passions in life are old buildings and dance. This is the old building one! I looked again, with what you said. I'm sorry I doubted you. I looked at a couple of things that don't change much... in particular the sidewalk. Excellent clues there. The driveway curb-cut is 8 squares of flat on your old place, whereas the orange one next door is much narrower. The 8 matches the old "across the street" photo in your blog.

I, too, came to your blog from 4:4 of the Emergency! TV show. Honest, I'm not obsessed. :-)

I loved your other posts, in particular the story of your trip to Russia. That was just fascinating. said...

July 8, 2012
I just took a look at 11480 Ventura Blvd on Google Earth to see what happened to Knaggs’ Berry Town. What I saw was sad because I have some very fond memories of what was there. That’s because I was one of the tenant’s years ago. I don’t remember what year it was but at that time we did not have any food venders or gas station. If I remember correctly, your dads name was Bill but I can’t remember your mom’s name. I do remember how friendly they were and I always enjoyed our conversations. Are your folks still with us?
Sadly, I believe I was one of, if not the last, tenant to close my shop. One by one tenant’s moved out and because the town was not drawing in any customers and your folks where having problems with the shop owners. My shop was called “Doc Holiday’s” and I played the part. Being a history buff of the old west and a collector of antique firearms, I sold items I had collected over many years. I dressed in authentic western clothes that “Doc” would have worn and my hand tooled gun belt held a nickel plated pistol. And yes, it was a real single action Colt .45. My shop was very small and the walls were covered with antiques and collectables. I had two large water barrels with a very large glass display case siting on them. The shop looked like it was right out of the 1800’s. The shop right across from mine was called, “The Cattle Baron” and was owned by a guy named Baron and he sold leather items.
Because of my shop I made many new friends and had interesting customers from show business. Burl Ives was a collector of music boxes and I sold him one or two. Sammy Davis Jr. and Buddy Hackett where also Colt collectors. Andy Griffith was a joy to talk to. I was never one to get excited about meeting a “celebrity” but they were all interesting to talk to.
These are just some of the things I remember and if you have any questions, let me know. Maybe you will jog my memory bit more. I would very much like to hear from you and I can be reached at

Unknown said...

HI I grew up about a mile west of there and for some reason, never went in but I always loved it when my parents drove by. It added so much to the neighborhood! Your parents sound great. Thanks for the posting on Valley Relics, really enjoyed looking at the photos and finally getting the story behind this magical looking place!

Poolman2 said...

I was a young adult going to Oil Can Harry's right next door in the late 70,80's and 90's and even on occasion now. Oil Can Harry's is a gay bar. I remember walking past your parents property with most of the buildings intact, so I recognized the pictures immediately. This is an interesting strip of Ventura Blvd. - lots of history. Thanks for the blog entry.

Anonymous said...

I was a young adult going dancing right next door to your parents property at Oil Can Harry's. I remember the old western buildings and recognized the pictures immediately. This strip of Ventura Blvd. has an interesting past - lots of history there. Thanks for the blog.

Melora said...

Doc wanted me to correct his email address on the above post and I can't edit other people's comments:


Thanks Doc!!!

Mark Scheuern said...

Funny, I also came here after seeing it on Emergency. Nice to know I'm not the only one with this strange hobby. It looks like it was a wonderful place. Thanks for sharing.

Soul-Pilot said...

I just discovered photos of Berry Town I must've taken sometime before it was demolished with the fencing up around it. I need to scan them.

Soul-Pilot said...

I just discovered photos I snapped sometime before Berry Town was demolished. It still has the fencing around it. I need to scan them.

Anonymous said...

HAha.....I guess I'm not the only "Emergency" fan. THe kids and I were watching and I saw the Knaggs Berry sign so I looked it up. Great info on it. In the Episode of Emergency, the club next door was a strip club. Did that really exist or was it Oil Can HArry's as some poster's already mentioned. Im from NJ so I have no idea where these palces even exist. But very cool just the same. Great childhood memories Im sure. thanks. -Steve

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if it had any relation to Knott's Berry Farm?

Melora said...

No relation to Knotts. My parents last name was Knaggs and it was on Ventura Blvd and Berry drive. Thus Knaggs Berry Towne. I'm sure my parents must have thought it sounded similar.

Anonymous said...

Another "Emergency!" fan here. I was intrigued by the name when I noticed it on TV, and it's great getting such a full backstory on the place.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos and memories, thanks! In fact, I'm in one of your photos -- the boy posing with you and Marty Allen! I was already a fan of Knagg's, so getting the opportunity to be part of "A Christmas Visit" filming there 40+ years ago (yikes!) was a real treat.
Did you ever acquire a copy of the show? I managed to track one down years later and would be happy to share it with you on DVD. You can reach me at -William

Melora said...

It was GREAT to get in contact with you William!
And I REALLY realy loved the copy of the show. I can't wait to show it to my kids!

oddjob60 said...

It looks to me like Oil Can Harry's is the club from "Emergency"-- it has the same front steps and curved arch over the fromt door, now hidden by the awning.