Posts

Remembering the AVM

AVM ad menu-page-001

 

A personal history by Jonathan Meredith

I first came to Nevada City in 1975 and started playing guitar music at the American Victorian Museum in 1976.  I was hired by David Osborn and Charles Woods to play Friday, Saturday nights and Sunday brunches. The AVM restaurant was managed by several different people as David and Charles were still living in San Francisco involved with City Opera. I played at the AVM Sunday brunches for about 10 years. Osborn and Woods not only owned the Foundry building but also some of the buildings on Spring Street with some other partners. I joined the AVM board when negotiations were under way of splitting off the Spring Street properties from the Foundry property which was around 1982.

I was mostly a silent member of the board as OW made all the decisions of the functioning of the AVM. I did help with some minor plumbing repairs and decor decisions. I was able to produce a successful Scott Joplin ‘Ragtime’ show than ran annually for four years. We also produced ‘Songs and Stories of the Gold Rush’, a song and dance play of the Gold Rush era. It lasted about three or four years as well.

Some other production of the AVM were the “International Teddy Bear Convention” that, at first, had 3 or 4 thousand people attend for a full weekend. The first one had a toy bear come over from England in the cockpit of an English airline to attend the festival. I danced the ‘hokey pokey’ as ‘Shorty’ the 9 foot stilted teddy bear. The Foothill Theater Company started at the AVM and did a few plays each year. When we got KVMR started we had to go to the top of Banner Mountain with our vinyl records on our backs if the snow was too deep and the cars couldn’t make it up the road. Originally David and Charles wanted to call the station KAVM but that handle was taken by a Coast Guard ship in California.

The AVM was an eclectic collection of Victorian era artifacts and ephemera as well as local artist displays and galleries. The AVM was always a cultural center and now has improved and expanded into the Miner’s Foundry that fulfills the original Osborne/Woods vision more efficiently and better oversight.

Charles & David

Charles & David - Front of AVM

Calling all Nevada County history buffs!  We’re hoping someone can tell us the back story of this great photo.  If you know, please send an email to kat@minersfoundry.org

As the origins of the photo are murky for now, consider it a Happy Easter from the Miners Foundry, throw back Thursday style!

 

Our History

Old Foundry

By Paul Matson, President, Miners Foundry Board of Trustees

Charles Woods and David Osborn moved to Nevada City in 1957, leaving San Francisco to continue their work as artists and preservationists in the Sierra Nevada foothills. They shared a passion for all things Victorian, historical and artistic. Nevada City, with its wealth of neglected, but intact array of Victorian, Gold Rush era buildings was a perfect new home for them, for the rest of their lives.

Immediately they plunged into civic life by vigorously opposing the construction of the freeway through the middle of town in the 1960’s. Subsequent to that they worked with city officials to create Nevada City’s Historical Ordinance. They joined and helped create the first Board of Directors to purchase, operate and restore the Nevada Theatre, so that it could once again take its place serving as a live theater. They designed and produced posters promoting the reopening the Theatre and the Nevada City bike races, to name a very few contributions.

In 1972 they purchased the then defunct Miners Foundry which for many decades had produced equipment for the mines of our region and points beyond. With their eye for the historic, their artistic gifts and a vast collection of Victoriana, they transformed this dark, gritty industrial space into a vital, driving force in our community. Naturally, the buildings were rehabilitated with a meticulous care exercised toward maintaining their historical integrity. They are Historic Landmarks locally as well as nationally.

A few years later I was elected to my first of five terms on the Nevada City Council and began attending a multitude of events at the Foundry, then known as the American Victorian Museum (AVM). My life-long friendship with Charles Woods and David Osborn began there, allowing us to collaborate on numerous city issues, often having to do with historic preservation in our little town.

Osborn/Woods encouraged Terry Brown and Paul Perry to make the move from San Francisco to Nevada City. Paul and Terry soon established Music in the Mountains. Osborn/Woods founded KVMR community radio right there at the AVM, along with a string of annual events including the International Teddy Bear Convention and Robbie Burns Night. My personal favorite is Fright Night, which to this day is one huge, rocking, costume extravaganza.

In 1989 the AVM fell of hard times and the property was acquired by the Nevada City Winery. The winery had the brilliance, the resources, and skills to help establish the Miners Foundry Cultural Preservation Trust, to which the building was dedicated and donated. This wonderful structure, in the heart of the Queen City of the Northern Mines, was once again on line to serve as a hub, a focal point, and a center for all things cultural, educational and civic.

Alan Haley, a prominent local attorney and member of the Board of Directors of the Nevada City Winery crafted the Indentures of Trust. To this day those Indentures govern and guide the Miners Foundry Trustees in their custodianship of the facility and its multitude of activities. We are so fortunate that the Nevada City Winery was able to secure the property, and immediately return it to its all important role of community service.

For me, it’s all come full circle. A few years back I joined the Foundry Board of Trustees, and am honored to work as its President on its behalf for our town and surrounding areas. It is an incredible gift we have received. To say that it is a remarkable asset is an understatement.

Thank you, and we’ll see you at the Miners Foundry sometime soon!