PICTURE THIS: Remembering Burbank’s Great Pumpkin Building

Years ago I found this image in a box of old family photos. It was undated, unlabeled, and probably taken to show off my grandparent’s new car. But the star of the picture for me was the gigantic pumpkin building in the background. It was one of those roadside oddities (often referred to as “vernacular” or “programmatic” architecture) that once dotted the Southern California urban landscape—but where was it located? And was it still there?

Turns out the self-proclaimed “world’s largest pumpkin” was once located in Burbank’s Magnolia Park business district—steps away from the corner of Hollywood Way and Magnolia Avenue. (The exact address was 3611 Magnolia. If you are familiar with the area, the great pumpkin would have been situated directly across the street from the current Porto’s Bakery, which I highly recommend, lol). Seems that the building started out in 1927 as a nightclub called the “Pumpkin Palace.”

The Pumpkin Palace survived a fire on opening night only to later change hands and personalities many times . . . becoming, among other things, a beer garden and a café. From 1935 until at least 1938, it operated as the Valley Gospel Center. In the 1950’s, the rotund structure was turned back into the Pumpkin Inn, then a real estate office, and by the time of my family’s photo, it was operating as the Magnolia Park Hardware store . . . and (judging by the “for sale” sign in the lower right corner of that picture) was on the market again.

After that, the information trail runs cold, so if anyone out there knows more about the history of Burbank’s great pumpkin building, please feel free to comment. I’d love to know more about its story . . . like when was it finally demolished?

Today, of course, Burbank’s great pumpkin building is long gone—along with its actual street address. I recently took the photos below . . .  the pumpkin would have stood behind the large tree in the center of the top picture. Now the plain exterior wall of a much larger building simply masks the spot. That’s progress, of course.

7 thoughts on “PICTURE THIS: Remembering Burbank’s Great Pumpkin Building

  1. I have more info on the Pumpkin Hardware for you, as I lived only a block and a half from it during 1935- -1943. Email me if interested or call 541-476-1466

    • Thanks for your comment . . . do you know when the Pumpkin Hardware building was demolished? Did you ever shop there and, if so, what was it like on the inside? Any details are much appreciated!

  2. I remember the Pumpkin Hardware store.
    I was born there in 1948, and still live in Burbank.
    My connection to the Pumpkin is My family bought a tri-plex apt building in 1964. We still own it. The story I remember from the day we bought it was that it was built and owned by a guy that owned a Hardware store on Magnolia. It was the Pumpkin Hardware store owner. Over the years plumbers would tell us the pipes and fixtures and electrical were of high quality. Thanks for the photos. Now I have something to show with my story.

    • Small world, huh? Thanks for sharing your story, Bob . . . shame it’s not there anymore, lol . . . glad the photos came in handy . . . it was fun solving the mystery for me, too!

  3. I lived in the Magnolia area from 1950 through 1962 and walked by it in my younger years. Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School is within blocks. My family would go to parades on Magnolia Boulevard and try to get as close to the Pumpkin as we could so we could see best. The only business I recall it ever being was a children’s bookstore (it was painted orange also). I believe I was in it once with my mother and remember books displayed on curved inner walls. However, the most picturesque moments of all Pumpkin photo history was the afternoon the Oscar Meyer Wiener Wagon made a promotional stop right across the street from it! I can still see the Wienermobile against the Pumpkin background. Where was my Brownie!

  4. I was thrilled to find these pictures! At one point my grandfather Andrew Harrison Boucher or “Harry” ran a nightclub out of the Pumpkin and I would love any information anyone may have about it.

  5. I have a postcard with a photo of the pumpkin building. It shows it as the E & E Studio Club that has food, drinking and dancing. It is advertised as “We invite you to dine and dance in the ‘World’s Largest Pumpkin'”. The owners were Earl Payton and Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis. The manager was Wilber G. Hicks. The stamp box indicates the photo was taken somewhere between 1907 – 1920. I tried to add the picture to this email but couldn’t. Let me know if you want me to send you a copy because I am going to put it on eBay in a few days.

    Brad Deem

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