A visit to the shuttered, endangered William S. Hart house museum and December tours including Bunker Hill Noir

Gentle reader,

This video was shot some weeks back at William S. Hart Park in old Newhall, in the shadow of the beautiful Monterey Style mansion that the motion picture star built to hold his treasured collections of paintings, books, Western and Native American artifacts and relics of a long career.

When Hart died in 1946, he left his property to be enjoyed by the citizens of his adopted home. A house in town, tucked below the Sunset Strip, is now a West Hollywood dog park and acting studio. His grander ranch house museum near the Ventura County line has been on our minds since a proposal was made to break Hart’s will and transfer control from the Natural History Museum to Santa Clarita, a city that didn’t exist when Hart’s estate was settled.

As the proposed transfer moves through the County Board of Supervisors’ report-back stage, and eventually goes to probate court, we continue to advocate for careful consideration of the vulnerability of Hart’s house museum, and the need for it to be in the hands of an accredited museum, with the trained staff, financial resources and security that comes with that.

There is only 1920s movie star’s home in all the world that is still kept intact just as he left it. And as it says outside of the (currently locked) turquoise door, this priceless treasure was dedicated three quarters of a century ago by William S. Hart FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC OF EVERY RACE AND CREED.

We think that’s a gracious gift worth preserving, so we’ll be out in Newhall again soon, pleading the case with decision makers that they are just the temporary caretakers of something that rightly belongs to the future, and it’s beholden on them to honor Hart’s wishes and ensure this house museum remains safe and accessible to its true owners, the people. We’ll keep you posted here and on the preservation advocacy page when there’s any news or opportunity to be heard.

Three walking tours were just added to December’s calendar, including a new true crime outing on Bunker Hill.

• Sunday, December 4 - La Brea Tar Pits Time Travel Trip: an immersive excursion all around Wilshire and Fairfax, the western terminus of the Miracle Mile, on the trail of a layered history that leads from Columbian mammoths foraging in the last Ice Age to today’s construction cranes, with some fascinating detours along the way. Learn more or book your spot here.

• Saturday, December 10 - All Around the Auto Club West Adams History Tour: a stroll featuring early irrigation infrastructure, elegant clubhouses, esoteric faith centers, homeless shelters, gay archives, the surveyor’s edge of Spanish Los Angeles and a spin through the elegant St. James Park National Register District to learn about the ongoing battle to preserve this pocket of 19th century Los Angeles from insensitive development. Learn more or book your spot here.

• Saturday, December 17 - Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill Tour: join author (and Angels Flight Railway operator) Nathan Marsak as we go out in search of a lost Victorian neighborhood viewed through the bloodstained lens of its murderous history. Learn more or book your spot here.

And we’ve still got room for you to join us on tomorrow’s Halloween tour of Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights, to uncover some of the fascinating stories attached to this massive and beautiful memorial park which since 1877 has been central to the life and death of Los Angeles. Join us, do!

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Psst… If you’d like to support our efforts to be the voice of places worth preserving, we have a tip jar and a subscriber edition of this newsletter, vintage Los Angeles webinars available on demand, in-person walking tours, gift certificates and a souvenir shop you can browse in. Or just share this link with other people who care.


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Esotouric's Secret Los Angeles