If you've ever eaten a chicken dinner served with a piece of boysenberry pie at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant there's a good chance you know a little history about Buena Park. Just standing in line in front of the restaurant you can learn a few tidbits posted on marquees and signs.
It's a great start. Knott's Berry Farm has had a major impact on this Orange County, California city. In fact, the theme park came about to provide entertainment while people waited in line to eat the famous fried chicken dinners. So popular was the first enterprise that more than a dozen theme parks have sprung up in the "Theme Park Capitol" since that time approx. 100 years ago
In 1887, James A. Whitaker founded Buena Park after purchasing 690 acres of land for a cattle ranch. But he ended up subdividing the property and the only stampedes since then have been tourists coming to town to have fun in the many theme parks and attractions.
The best place to begin your tour of Buena Park's past begins at Whitaker-Jaynes Estate and the Bacon House Museums at the center of the Historic District between the Stage Stop Hotel and the First Congregational Church. Both house museums are furnished much as they would have been at the turn of the century and are open to the public by the Buena Park Historical Society.
The Whitaker-Jaynes Estate (1887) and Bacon House (1884) Museums are open to the public free of charge by the Buena Park Historical Society (buenaparkhistory.org). Call for appointment or for current hours. Since hours are subject to availability of volunteer staffing, please call (714) 562-3570 or (714) 521-1887 to confirm the date you wish to visit.
What to see? A marxophone, Isaac & Edna Jaynes wedding photo, a mannequin in glass case wearing a bridal gown, sterling silver service, Whitaker Chocolate Set, souvenir postcards and plaques from Japanese Village and Deer Park, promotional materials from California Alligator Farm, the Kingdom of the Dancing Stallions, memorabilia from Ripley's-Believe it or Not!, antique quilts, a bedroom set donated by the Walter Knott Family, antique vanity set with mirror, comb, Butterick skirt patterns, Singer sewing machine, hairbrush and ladies lace gloves, rare rectangular shaped Arion Grand piano, Women's World Softball Championships program, Girls Softball World Series program from Orange, Calif., and photos of Allen Parkinson showing concept drawing of Shangri-La to Gina Lollobrigida and with Natalie Wood.
Allen Parkinson, inventor of the world's first over the counter sleep aid, used his fortune to found three Buena Park tourist attractions: Movieland Wax Museum, Palace of the Living Arts, and Japanese Village and Deer Park.