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Thursday, December 2, 2010

RKO Encino Movie Ranch Link

Tonight I stumbled across a wonderful website about the old RKO movie Ranch in Encino, which most of us know as Balboa Park, bordered by Oxnard Blvd. to the north, and Burbank Blvd. to the south. Balboa to the east and Louise to the west.

The site has photos of the lot locations and the productions that used the lot such as "It's a Wonderful Life", as seen in the photo above, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many others.

Click on the photos and then click on the expand box in the lower right corner to see the photo in a larger size.


I remember all those years we hung out in the park playing baseball, and other "wholesome activities" and I never knew the history of the park. You would think they would have a plaque or some form of commemoration for the old studio ranch.

While I'm at it, here is a link to the Culver Studios backlot and more:




Guitar Rat said...

In looking at the Google map I just noticed that they renamed the park after a politician. Nothing against him but sad that is the best name they could come up with for an area with such a local history. I still think it would be great if there was a plaque commemorating the past. I don't recall seeing one, if I am wrong I would love to be corrected.

Anonymous said...

Love the history of the Ranch! But I believe your current day map is incorrect. That long row of trees on the right ranch border of the old photo is the row of trees that separate the current sports fields from the housing on the left. That would make the Ranch location all of the homes from Louise up-to the trees before the sports fields.

Unknown said...

@anonymous - I think you are correct.

Anonymous said...

I think the trees in the picture are on Louies, half of the movie ranch is the park the other is the village

Anonymous said...

The boundaries of the ranch were Louise, Burbank, Oxnard and, before the freeway was built, Amestoy, as it continued as a narrow dirt road along the treeline to Oxnard. Once the Ventura Fwy was built, taking the old Edward Everett Horton Estate that was at Burbank and Amestoy, Amestoy Ave was ended at the freeway.

And I agree, there should be a plaque in Balboa Park commemorating the old RKO site.

bp said...

I think you're right. I think "Its a Wonderful Life" is a special film, and I wish studio execs had put a plaque or small memorial structure out at the site of 'George Bailey's' house. The location provided many other fine films as well, so it deserves some sort of physical rememberance/ acknowledgement. -dudeFromAugusta

Andrew Patrick Ralston said...

The neighborhood (from Louise to the park) )was where the former studio was. The park was just land back then. Check out a compare contrast at Historic Aerials. Cool stuff!

S. Gamble said...

The property in the overhead view sure looks more rectangular than the angled aerial photos. If Burbank Blvd. Is the southern boarder of the ranch location, does that mean that the Cathedral set facade from the Charles Laughton HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME would have been in the center of the existing Ostrom Ave., just a house or two's distence south of where it intersects Hatteras St.? Or rather, was it further south, say midway between Hatteras and where Ostrom bends west toward Aldea? Anybody out there know?

I find it facinating that a huge identical set representation of that very real location in Paris, France was built TWICE in every external detail in Hollywood's history. Once there in Encino and previously in the early twenties at Universal Studios main backlot for the Lon Chaney silent film version of the story. Both sets looked pretty much identical. Until I saw pictures of this location, I always assumed that RKO just leased the set at Universal, since it was still there at the time the sound version was lensed here at the former RKO ranch. Was any of the statuary sold or rented to RKO from the leftovers at Universal? Anyone? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

I originally thought as you and others have posted that Balboa Park is the site of the old RKO ranch but in fact it was just to the West where the Encino Village housing development is built. This can be verified by Googling "Encino Village." The empty land just to the East of the RKO ranch is where Balboa Park exists today.

Bob von Buelow said...

Yeah, my family was one of the first residents in Encino Village. The current Balboa Park was not part of the RKO ranch. That was just an alfalfa field where we played. East boundary was Amestoy. Went to the Horton house one Halloween, very creepy for an 11 year old, but Mr. Horton was very nice, gave us nickles. Don't think he had many dare to approach his Victorian mansion behind gates! I think the Notre Dame set was where Hatteras met Ostrom and Wish. I lived on Martha St.