The art of the old west is the main focus on this Old Trapper’s Lodge, located in Woodland Hills. This is a folk-art setting that was designed in the hands of the creator John Ehn. His works were created over the course of thirty years. His characters are based on Ehn’s family as well as his personal mythology. The Boot Hill Cemetery is built on his favourite myths as well as folk music. The statues are adorned with portraits of characters who have passed away and tombstones with epitaphs.
John Ehn, a former trapper from Michigan He relocated into Southern California in the early 1940s. The man was real mountain man, and also an old-fashioned spinner. He was employed by the State for a period of twenty years. He passed away aged 85 in 1981. He was disabled in part, but he had a deep love in Old West history. He designed goggle-eyed statues for California pioneers. In the last 30 years of existence he made a variety of sculptures inspired by his family. They were displayed in his hotel and named it The Old Trapper’s Lodge.
Many of Ehn’s sculptures were moved several of his sculptures were moved to Pierce College in Woodland Hills. The statues were created by Ehn to commemorate his family. The College took over the majority of the artwork that was initially displayed at the motel. The College decided to keep the sculptures and display the works within Alvin Cleveland Park. In 1988 the College did not make a public announcement about the move and did not make the announcement in the open to all of its visitors. The move was in violation of the agreement that was in effect at the time that the College purchased the artwork.
The sculptures were threatened with destruction. In the midst of this the Ehn family agreed to put the sculptures on a long-term loan. They also requested for the California State Historical Resources Commission to assist them in the difficult process. The Commission offered to help but they were not able to accept the move to a place that was more appropriate for the artwork.
The State of California designated the Old Trapper’s Lodge as a California State Historical Landmark in 1985. It is a significant historical landmark since it was designed by a real person , and is a significant cultural part of American the past. A number of members of the family of the artist are known to have visited this site. One of them is the great-granddaughter of Ehn. The family is a an integral part of our community and been a major participant in the past and the history of this site.
SPACES (Saving and Preserving the Arts as well as Cultural Spaces) has selected 10 California folk art spaces as landmarks. SPACES has collaborated in conjunction with family members from the Ehn family to put smaller pieces of art in museums. It also has been working to relocate large sculptures to one location to be re-installed. It is the aim of SPACES to protect the rich cultural history of California. The website contains information about the past of the lodgeas well as as well as the current condition of the artwork as well as a webinar for free on the subject. The site also contains the short film of Damian Sullivan that features Ehn’s family during their first trip to the location after the desecration of the Boot Hill Cemetery section.