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Remembering the AVM

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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.

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