Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 67

Price Realized: $ 2,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(CALIFORNIA.) Large archive of Robert E. Callahan and his famed Mission Village auto court / theme park. Hundreds of items housed in 5 scrapbooks and several folders, housed in one large box (1.2 linear feet); condition varied, with the scrapbooks worn and coming disbound, and the guest book / scrapbook heavily chipped at edges with some loss of text. Various places, circa 1901-79

Additional Details

Robert E. Callahan (1892-1981) was the proprietor of Mission Village and then Indian Frontier Village from 1928 into the 1970s--well-known tourist attractions which operated somewhere on a spectrum between motels, museums, and theme parks. Callahan was born in Virginia with some Iroquois ancestry; he performed with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a boy, did some acting, wrote novels and screenplays, and then found success in the advertising world in Chicago. This enabled him to launch his dream in 1928, the Mission Village Auto Court in Culver City just north of Los Angeles. It was based loosely on the popular novel of the American Indian, Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (see lot above). In 1962, the land was appropriated for a freeway, and Callahan launched the similar Indian Frontier Village in the Mint Canyon neighborhood of Santa Clarita, further to the north. This village slowly became defunct as Callahan aged; he was still trying to find a buyer upon his death in 1981. Portions are now owned by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.

This lot includes 7 scrapbooks of varying sizes kept by Callahan, plus some additional papers. One scrapbook contains mostly Mission Village promotional materials and advertisements, circa 1931-1942. Another is described as a guest book and does include extensive guest inscriptions from 1936 to 1949, but also photographs and correspondence. A more composed photo album includes shots of American Indian athlete-actor Jim Thorpe on a film set, and a Callahan production staged for the 1935 World's Fair (both illustrated). A publicity shot of Roy Rogers and his band (Sons of the Pioneers?) is captioned "Roy Rogers, who in 1933 was Leonard Sly, and whose first rodeo experience was in his dad's show at Ramona Village"--a story we cannot confirm. Two smaller photo albums contain mostly older images from Callahan's early careers and journeys, about 3 x 4 inches. One includes a distant view of the famed 1910 Jim Jeffries - Jack Johnson boxing match in Reno, NV. Two large leather portfolios contain larger photo prints, and tourist brochures collected from similar attractions. An occasional older photo makes its appearance, such as a chipped well-known group shot including Geronimo and General Nelson Miles from 1901.

Also included in this collection are two of Callahan's original screenplays, "The Girl Outlaw" and "The Boy Jockey"; a file of correspondence from 1961 to 1979, mostly regarding the launch of the Indian Frontier Village and the final effort to sell it in 1979; and a file of Mission Village promotional materials. All in all, this is a rich archive on a quintessential mid-century Californian phenomenon.