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Santa Clarita CA
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S.C.V. History
March 17
1927 - Newhall telephone exchange, est. 1900, now serves 100 phones [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Friday, Oct 23, 2015

darrylmanzer0215During the time I was executive director at Heritage Junction Historic Park, we hosted a number of commercial and student film projects. For the most part, the production companies left the locations they used in better condition than when they started filming. Except for some fake “dirt” used in front of the old Saugus Train Station. It might never come off completely.

We had to watch the folks doing the filming to make sure they made good on any damage done to the interior and exterior of buildings and grounds. Hey, the SCV Historical Society got a nice garden out of the process.

The production companies were super folks, but I cannot help but think that had they been less supervised, the results would have been much different. This appears to be what is happening in Mentryville.

The film production companies using Mentryville are no different. They pay large sums of money to film in the old town. Most of that money is spent elsewhere. I sure don’t see it restoring the old village.

It isn’t the fault of the folks making the films that they are not supervised to the degree we did so at Heritage Junction.

photo-2-copy-3Which explains the “plastering” work in the southeast corner bedroom upstairs in the Pico Cottage (my old room). Heaps of plaster applied with a small garden spade and painted a hideous array of blue and green and black, plus a helping of pure ugliness.

How about the one wall where the plaster is missing and the lath is shoved in and broken? I know it wasn’t like that two years ago. What happened to the contracts that state only certain walls can be used in such a manner? Original plaster and wall portions are to be left intact. Other places now have sheetrock with holes and nails in them. I suppose the holes in the lath-and-plaster wall just sort of “happened.”

I’ll bet all of us would like to know where the money from filming in Pico Canyon went. I am a little tired of hearing how “poor” the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is when they have offices in the former Malibu-area home of Barbra Streisand and another office in Beverly Hills. How about they sell those places and use the money for offices more in keeping with their mission? How many millions of dollars could be brought in from such a sale? There are plenty of modular buildings in use by schools districts, so why can’t the MRCA use the same? If they are good enough for our kids, they have to be good enough for an agency of the state of California.

1It is a fact that the MRCA couldn’t care less about the historical buildings it has in its inventory on the park properties it controls. That is most obvious in Mentryville. I used to write that the MRCA was good with parks and trails but didn’t take care of historical buildings. When I see the use of herbicides as weed abatement and trails carved into the soft clay side of the hill next to the Felton School, I question their very stewardship of the land.

You can go to Mentryville today and see the results of the weed control. There is a pepper tree behind the Pico Cottage that is now half dead, and should heavy rains come as predicted, the hill behind the house has been graded in such a way that a mudslide is almost guaranteed.

Growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley, I know what film companies do and don’t do. Most of the time they are some of the most responsible protectors of land and buildings you’d ever want to associate with. Then there are those other times … when they aren’t supervised because the MRCA is just taking the money.

I know my last commentary on the subject may have been a little harsh to some of my readers who obviously work in the studios. But ever since about 1922, there has been someone filming there. All we ask is that they work harder to leave only footprints. And if they want supervision, I’ll do it just so the MRCA knows how it should be done.

Those are the fair and honest facts in the matter, folks. But I cannot forget, it was once the home of my parents and me, back in a time when I was the only kid in Mentryville.



Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].



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  1. Danny Davey Danny Davey says:

    Every location should have a location representative chosen by the facility, their specific job is what you are asking for, they monitor the work and protect location from damage. Put it in the contract and make sure there is a certificate of liability insurance and a property insurance.

  2. C. Harris says:

    AGAIN a “request for public records” on the monies collected by MRCA
    should be DEMANDED by the Friends of Mentryville!!! That should include the filming companies, when they were on site and what they paid. We the public have a right to know where the money was placed, certainly NOT in the up-keep of Mentryville.
    City Council of Santa Clarita just approved Big $ to have MRCA patrol their Open Space, hun? With their track record…?

  3. Cathy says:

    Sounds like the MRC doesn’t have a very complete contract for filming. Since they are a government agency, you should be able to get a copy of the rental agreement the studios use when they rent the property. The location company or the MRC should have a paid site rep there to protect the property as stated in the above comment. If they don’t hire somebody, maybe you should volunteer to protect this historic site.

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