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PAST POKES UP ANEW HISTORY ON PARADE IN FALL FESTIVAL FOR TOWN'S RESTORATION MENTRYVILLE PUTS PAST ON DISPLAY.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

NEWHALL - The one-room schoolhouse had closed by the time Patricia Westcott Kelly moved to the small oil town of Mentryville in 1931, but she remembers looking through the windows as a little girl, coveting the old dollhouse that sat in the center of the room.

Now 74, Kelly stood in the schoolhouse Saturday as history enthusiasts and curious sightseers visited the 125-year-old ghost town nestled at the end of Pico Canyon Road for the annual Mentryville Fall Harvest Festival.

``Oh, it was a nice place to live. My dad found this old house, and they let us live here,'' she said. ``But it wasn't in great shape when we got here. Cows had roamed through the house, and mice had eaten away at the wallpaper.''

The Westcotts arrived with their five children as the nation weathered the Depression, and most of the lucrative oil that first erupted from ``Pico Number 4'' on Sept. 26, 1876, had been tapped. But families still remained in five houses.

A gravel parking lot has replaced the spot where Westcott's house stood, but the historical structures that remain - like the 13-room Pennsylvania-style mansion once inhabited by the town's namesake, Charles Alexander Mentry - are being preserved and slowly restored by Friends of Mentryville.

Proceeds from the annual festival, which this year included a barbecue, pumpkins, crafts and live music, are used to purchase period furniture and items such as books for the restoration.

James McCarthy, president of the Friends of Mentryville board of directors, sold lemonade and snacks Saturday, but he admitted that the crowd was more sparse this year.

``I think it's because of the recent tragedy,'' McCarthy said. ``It took me a couple of weeks to get back out doing things. But it's great when people come out and see the history of this old town.''

Adding to the Old West atmosphere, local resident Susan Ostrom sat in the shade of the schoolhouse Saturday, spinning freshly shorn lamb's wool on a wooden spinning wheel.

``I like to demonstrate an old craft,'' she said, dressed in the skirts, hat and shoes of a turn-of-the-century seamstress. ``I do this for the historical society and for schools sometimes. I always spin in costume when I demonstrate.''

Ostrom's young neighbor, 13-year-old Lisa Werth, accompanied her as she spun rough tangles into soft thread. The La Mesa Junior High student said the historical value of Mentryville is interesting to young people, as well.

``I'm fascinated by old buildings,'' Werth said. ``A lot of kids my age really aren't interested, but I just love going around and looking at the history.''

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1) An old Mentryville firetruck is shined up for visitors to the historic community's Mentryville Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday. Proceeds from the annual festival, which this year included a barbecue, pumpkins, crafts and live music, fund historic restoration.

(2) Trick roper Dave Thornbury draws Laurene Weste, the mayor of Santa Clarita, into his circle Saturday at the Mentryville Fall Harvest Festival.

(3) Patricia Westcott Kelly, 74, who moved to the small oil town of Mentryville in 1931, guides visitors Saturday through the old one-room schoolhouse that was already closed when she was a child.

(4) Curious about barnyard animals, Taylor Atken, 2, from left, Michaela Peters, 3, and Alexis Peters, 6, all of Stevenson Ranch, angle for a better look at chickens in a barn Saturday at the Mentryville Fall Harvest Festival.

David R. Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 30, 2001
Words:579
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