December 4, 2008
William S. Hart’s retirement home in Newhall, which he occupied from 1926-1946, is now home to the museum bearing his name. From the literature present we learned that Hart left a sizeable endowment to insure that the spread would always be open to the public.
And the public does seem to come by. We arrived before noon (the museum has odd hours, call or check their website first) and were surprised to find a half-dozen folks leaving and another half-dozen waiting on the next tour.
And neither group seemed to be particularly cowboy fans. A mix of out-of-towners and local folks. A mystery.
Bring your walking shoes. The tour itself is short, but the walk to the museum is a HIKE! It’s up a steep “nature trail” past the animal cemetery where Fritz joins Hart’s dogs in their everlasting slumber. And if you are planning on pushing a baby carriage up there, I’d think again. I was fortunate enough to have my burly buddy Josh along to help me carry the thing over loose gravel.
The house itself is very nice, and well preserved. The docent knew a lot about the fixtures, but very little about the man himself, and next to nothing about his films. A security gaurd followed us the entire time.
They also have a gift shop. They sell a lot of general western-themed stuff and a few books on WSH. A couple of his DVDs too. They also have DVDS for Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Ken Maynard, Johnny Mack Brown, Hoot Gibson…just about everyone but Charley Starrett. Which doesn’t seem fair, seeing how CS was his biggest fan.
The museum’s website has all the information, including directions. They host some summer films under the stars as well. Nicely maintained place with some fun stuff to see.
And somebody I happen to know had a great time.