Historic Echo Park
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Darrell Urbien

Hello, I am doing research on an important musical instrument maker named Chris Knutsen. He lived in Echo Park from c.1914-1930, which was during the height of the Hawaiian music craze. Knutsen made Hawaiian steel guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, and harp guitars.


See more of these amazing creations at Gregg Miner's Knutsen Archives site, where my research will eventually be published:


The Knutsen Archives


I believe if you had seen one of these instruments, you would've remembered it!


His main shop was near the intersection of Glendale and Temple streets, and then he moved to Sunset and McDuff after 1926.


I also know there were large gatherings of Hawaiians and Hawaiian musicians both in EP and at Westlake Park in the early teens.


I am looking for ANY information anyone might have about this man and his work. Especially:


Instruments! If you've got one of these things under your bed or in your closet, please let me know! The Knutsen Archives maintains a registry and we'd love to add new instruments!


Photographs/Recordings. If you have or know of any, I would love to see/hear them! I know Knutsen was on the radio in the early 20s. I also know he was active in the Foursquare Church - going to various branches to play his instruments, and perhaps on KFSG. The Church's Heritage Department has been a huge help to me in my research.


Players! Any information you might have on Hawaiian musicians or Ukulele Clubs would be invaluable to me - I know Echo Park had a Uke club, and I believe there may have been Knutsen players involved. So if your grandparents used to play the uke or the steel guitar in EP, please ask them if they've ever seen these instruments!


Along with collecting this information for the Knutsen Archives, I'd eventually like to bring what I've found to the EPHS.. Wouldn't it be cool to have a little mini-concert with Knutsen instruments at the park?


Feel free to contact me via this board, or through the Knutsen Archives.




Darrell Urbien




Darrell Urbien

Sorry to keep responding to my own posts!


I forgot to mention that I am in contact with a woman named Jean Findlay, who is one of the few known living Knutsen relatives.


She would really like to know where Knutsen's children and grandchildren may have gone to school. When Knutsen arrived in 1914, they lived very close to Cortez St School (now Betty Placencia Elementary). His daughter Myrtle was 9, and his granddaughter Lacresia was 7. I'm guessing they went there, but I haven't had much luck getting info out of the LAUSD.


At the 1920 Census, Myrtle is 15 and Lacresia is 13.. They are listed as being "in school." Any idea where that might be? I don't think Belmont opened yet..


Does anyone know what other middle or high schools were around in that era (pre-1930)?







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