Canoga-Owensmouth Historical Society
7248 Owensmouth Avenue
Canoga Park, CA 91303
The town of Owensmouth was referred to as the “baby” town of the San Fernando Valley in 1912. Developers used the image of a baby delivering stork in their promotional material. The Stork Plaque, symbolic of the birth of Owensmouth on March 1912, was a gift to prospective buyers on the opening day of land sales in the new town.
Canoga-Owensmouth Historical Society
The Society is a non-profit California Corporation, formed in 1988 to identify and preserve those objects and landmarks that are of historic interest and value within the area originally known as Owensmouth.
The membership includes individuals of all ages, both local and non-resident, civic groups and businesses interested in learning about and preserving the history of the Canoga Park community. Membership is open to all who are interested in the purposes of the Society.
Monthly program meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM in the Community Center, 7248 Owensmouth Avenue, Canoga Park. Speakers and films on interesting aspects of locl history, Saturday morning tours of nearby historic sites, “Old Timers” BBQ and social events make for interesting programs.
Canoga Park's History
HISTORIC OWENSMOUTH / CANOGA PARK
The far west end of the San Fernando Valley of Southern California for hundreds of years was home to the American Indians of both Fernandeno and Chumash tribes. Indian villages were established at each place where a creed emerged from the canyons of the Simi Hills. These inhabitants were the original population of the Canoga / Owensmouth area.
Originally, Canoga Park was named Owensmouth by General H.G. Otis (Owner of the Los Angeles Times Newspaper) because he felt it was the closest town to the outlet for the Owens River Aqueduct.
Owensmouth was founded on March 30, 1912 by the Janz Corporation. People were invited to a Big Barbecue for all prospective buyers of lots, but they left early because of a big dust storm.
Sherman Way was the main street of Owensmouth with tracks down the center for the Pacific Electric Railway and the Red Car. The Red Car was a popular mode of transportation that went down Sherman Way to Van Nuys then continued onto Los Angeles. Owensmouth, an agricultural community, grew slowly into a beautiful town destined for much growth and changes in the future.
On February 26, 1917, Owensmouth was annexed to the city of Los Angeles. With the completion of the Acqueduct in 1913 and the loss of the Owensmouth Water Tower due to a fire in 1915, the town was in need of a water supply, which Los Angeles could offer. Owensmouth now had its own Grammar School, High School and Library. Community groups began to form such as the Owensmouth Women's Club, the Owensmouth Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Masonic Lodge, Kiwanis Club and Churches. The Owensmouth Women's Club is the group that kept the historical records of the town for many years.
In 1926, the Original Madrid Theatre was built on Sherman Way and opened with Silent Films, but was soon to be replaced by the Talkies. The theater was also the site for many community events, even a High School Graduation after the school burned.
On March 1, 1930, Owensmouth became Canoga Park since some of the citizens did not like its former name. The community continued to grow with its new Telephone Building, Fire Station #72, Library and Pierce School of Agriculture (now Pierce College) opened.
In 1950, Orcutt Park (now Lanark Park) Clubhouse was opened and Guadalupe Youth Center was dedicated for the community.
In 1955, Rocketdyne, a Division of North American Aviation arrived in Canoga Park. This brought many new people to this area. The rocket engines for the Space Shuttle were built here.
In the late "50's", Sherman Way was widened and the tracks along with the Red Cars, were gone, making more room for the traffic traveling along Sherman Way.
In the "60's", two new malls, Topanga Plaza and Fallbrook Mall, were built. Many of the stores along Sherman Way became Antique and Specialty Shops and the area was named Antique Row.
Even with floods, fires and earthquakes, the community continues to grow with new companies, schools, movie studios and other businesses.
The west side of Canoga Park became West Hills in 1988.
After the 1994 Earthquake, there have been many improvements to the downtown area. The "new" Madrid Theatre has been built, the Telephone Building will become a Youth Art Center and the revitalizatin of shops along Sherman Way by the business people (PBID) makes this a great town to visit.
Each year there is a Memorial Day Prade, Job Fair and Street Fair, all presented by the Canoga Park / West Hills Chamber Of Commerce, along with many other community activities. The Canoga / Owensmouth Historical Society has a museum in the original Fire Station #72 that also houses the Canoga Park / West Hills Chamber Of Commerce. The Fire Station is now the Canoga Park Community Center and is utilized by many organizations. The Museum is located at 7248 Owensmouth Avenue, Canoga Park, CA 91303 and is open on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month or by appointment. For information, call 818-346-5252