Sunday, September 22, 2013
I doubt that there are many other amusement parks with real churches (actually used for Sunday services) on their grounds. But that was how Water Knott rolled! Chris Merritt's "Knott's Preserved" tells us that Walter originally wanted to relocate the building that had been the First Baptist church of Downy (built in about 1879), but building codes forced him to recreate the structure, saving the original steeple.
The photo below is circa 1955, when the church was brand-new to the park. It almost looks like a very convincing movie set; the little family passing by is the perfect touch.
Here's another photo, taken in 1967. The church itself hasn't changed, though the landscaping around it has. Some shrubs have been added, and simple wooden benches so that guests can contemplate the mysteries of the universe in comfort.
And (also from '67) here is a rare shot showing the interior with its stained-glass window. I assume that the window was designed by Paul Van Klieben, who also worked on the portrait seen in the Little Chapel by the Lake. That's right, Knott's had a church and a chapel! Both are gone now.