Renewed Fundraising Efforts Underway To Rebuild Western Town At Paramount Ranch

Paramount Ranch, along with its popular “western town” movie set built from 1927-43, was almost completely burned in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. The park and the town had served as important filming locations for movies and television since 1927. Along with numerous silent movies, many films and shows that have become household names were filmed at the iconic spot: “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”; Disney’s “Herbie Rides Again”; early TV shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Perry Mason”; later TV like “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and HBO’s “Westworld”; and modern films like “American Sniper” were all made there.

The western town used to feature a western-style main street and structures that served as barns, hotels, saloons and barbershops, but only the train station and a church built for HBO’s “Westworld” survived the fire.

The 2,700-acre ranch has been owned by the National Park Service (NPS) since 1980; the park plans to spend $12 million rebuilding the western town movie set, including electrical lines, water lines and the entrance area.

The new town will not be an exact replica of the one that burned. According to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) Superintendent David Szymanski, the NPS is working with film industry professionals to design the buildings with movable walls to allow for better camera angles, more fire resistant construction, and improved amenities for film crews, tourists and special events.

Ana Beatriz Cholo of the NPS said in a phone interview that they have been in the pre-planning and schematic design phase of the rebuild, and will be awarding the design contract this month. The design is set to be completed by the end of 2021, and construction will take place from 2022-23.

An additional $2 million of work needs to be done that isn’t government funded—things like building a second bridge to access the site, which would improve safety. That’s where the nonprofit Santa Monica Mountains Fund (SAMO Fund)—the official fundraising partner of the SMMNRA—comes in.

“The NPS has to focus on restoring the historic part of the park, whereas we will fund rebuilding the non-historic parts,” explained Charlotte Parry, executive director. “Visitors will learn the story of moviemaking here, nearly 100 years of it, which is old for just about anything in western America. This is the only park within the NPS system that’s devoted to film history, out of 427 parks.”

Although SAMO Fund’s eventual goal is to raise a total of $2 million, the first target is set at $400,000. The federal government agreed to match all donations 1:1 for this project up to $400,000, and $200,000 of that had already been raised prior to the pandemic. The fund hopes to reach this first target in the next six months.

Actress Jane Seymour, star of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and Malibu resident, is serving as patron for the SAMO Fund campaign. In a written statement, she said Paramount Ranch is very special to her and the rest of the cast and crew of Dr. Quinn, because it was the place they called home for seven seasons.

“Dr. Quinn is still seen in 98 countries,” Seymour stated. “When we were in production, people came from all over the world to watch us work and enjoy the stunning landscape that is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Most film sets are closed to the public, but because this is a national park, anyone who wanted to visit could experience and enjoy it like we did.”

Some of the other members of the campaign committee include Sara Horner (wife of the late film composer James Horner, who wrote the score for “Titanic”), Jean and Timothy Schmit (one of The Eagles), and Davis Hertz (architect of the Malibu “airplane house”).

The next fundraising event will be an outdoor drive-in movie at Paramount Ranch on Saturday, April 24, from 6 – 9 p.m.  The award-winning documentary film, “Biggest Little Farm,” filmed nearby in Moorpark, will be shown in honor of Earth Day. Additional sponsors for events are still needed. Tickets are available at


For more information or to make a donation, go to:  or email Charlotte Parry:

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