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This year marks the 30th anniversary of...

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Burbank Historical

Society, which has experienced tremendous growth since it was founded

by a small group of citizens. Their vision, dedication and hard work

ensured that Burbank’s history, which spans more than 100 years, was

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saved and protected for future generations.

Founded in 1973 by Mary Jane Strickland, the Burbank Historical

Society started out as a concerned group of citizens who felt

Burbank’s history was slowly disappearing and would be lost forever

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if action was not taken to save it. As a lifelong Burbank resident,

city employee and spirited leader, Strickland organized volunteers to

take up the cause of saving Burbank’s rich history.

It quickly became apparent that the small group of citizens who

founded the society needed a more formal structure. The group

incorporated as a nonprofit in 1975, and a board of directors was

created. This gave the society an organization and structure while at

the same time increasing the potential for donations, since now they

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were now tax deductible.

Two years later, the historical society successfully purchased and

relocated the Mentzer House to George Izay Park. Built in 1887, the

Mentzer House was constructed by the Providencia Land, Water and

Development Company as a development project in the late 19th

century. After successfully moving the house, the society undertook a

three-year project to restore the house to its original appearance.

The house now serves as the centerpiece of the museum complex and is

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instantly recognized by the tens of thousands of people who pass by

when driving along Olive Avenue.

The Burbank Historical Society caught the eye of one particularly

important donor. Gordon R. Howard and his wife, Mary, had a deep

appreciation for Burbank’s rich history and championed the cause of

the society. His generous contribution paved the way for the

construction of the museum that bears his name. The museum complex,

built on city-owned property at George Izay Park, houses more than

100 years of Burbank History in the form of documents, exhibits,

photographs, maps, automobiles and clothing. Volunteers work

tirelessly at the museum to archive and catalog the vast collection

so that it is readily available to residents, developers and

researchers.

Not surprisingly, the Burbank Historical Society’s collection has

outgrown its home at the Gordon R. Howard Museum. Dedicated more than

ever to protect and enhance the city’s history, society leaders went

on an ambitious drive to raise money to fund the museum’s expansion.

The 7,000 square-foot addition will have new interactive exhibits

including those from the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. -- both

Burbank-based studios The newly expanded Gordon R. Howard Museum will

open again in mid-October on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Whether

you have never been to the museum complex or have been there several

times, there will be something new to see and learn.

After more than three decades, the Burbank Historical Society

continues to grow beyond the expectations and dreams of those people

who founded it. Countless people, including thousands of school

children, visit the Gordon R. Howard Museum and the Mentzer House

each year. The accomplishments of the Burbank Historical Society make

it an invaluable organization and community resource. The biggest

benefactors of the Burbank Historical Society will be future

generations of Burbankers who will be able to learn and experience

Burbank’s rich past.

* CRAIG BULLOCK is the chairman of the Burbank Heritage

Commission. Reach him at brbnkheritagecom@aol.com.


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