I don't even know where to begin when discussing the filming locations of "Welcome To Amity." In August, 2008, I spent two extremely fascinating Saturdays in Kinsman, Ohio (Amity) taking the photographs that you will see on these pages and meeting quite a few residents of this small town in north-east Ohio roughly half-way between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
My first contact with Kinsman had been a few weeks earlier when I made a phone call to the public library. The intent was to verify that Kinsman was indeed the filming location of "Welcome To Amity." Unlike episodes filmed in large cities such as Cleveland or Baltimore, Kinsman was at first a bit of a mystery since the town's name had been changed to accommodate the script and because it's location is quite a bit off the beaten track.
< more to come... >
Looking Down State Street
After entering the square from the east, Joan (Susan Oliver) heads north-west on State St. on her way to the boarding house where she will try to find a room while in town. But since she grew up here she should have known that the boarding house is located on Main St. which runs north-east from the square.
The Boarding House
This unique octagonal home on Main St., just around the corner from the cemetery (in fact you can see the edges of the cemetery in the distance), is actually the childhood home of nearby Farmdale native Clarence Darrow, prominent trial lawyer in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th. Darrow is known for his defense in the case of Tennessee v. Scopes ("The Scopes Monkey Trial") which tested the legality of teaching evolution in the public schools.
A photo of the current Ohio Historical Society marker in the yard can be found on the "extras" page. Look closely at the far left of the original scene. You can see an earlier version of the marker which says "Darrow Octagon House."
The home has been privately owned by a Kinsman woman who has lived there for over thirty years.
Notice the big tree behind the 'vette in the original shot. It's still there today, 47 years later. One of the main trunk branches is missing but the other is still in good shape.
Baxter's Marine had no actual part in "Welcome To Amity" other than being visible when Tod and Buz were leaving the boarding house. Today, the building houses the Main Street Fitness and Aerobics Center.
Going To Work
Employment for Tod and Buz (mentioned in the previous episode, shot in Youngstown, as "the jobs waiting for us in Kinsman") is just ahead on Burnett East Road as they turn off of Route 5 about a mile south-west of the square.
That home in the background is currently on the market for $150,000. I'm not sure that it's a good deal at that price as the online listing boasts: Beds:0, Full Baths:0, Half Baths:0, Sq Feet:0, Lot Size:0.
The Kinsman Brass facilities on Burnett East Road (just a few hundred feet beyond the previous shot). The company was later bought by, and renamed to, Glauber Brass Manufacting. Glauber Brass was, and still is, headquartered in Cleveland. Kinsman / Glauber has been gone for quite some time now and in its place today is the vacant "Vinyl Color & Grain" facility.
The Whistle Blows At The Brass Factory
One of my favorite shots from this series. A clear blue sky and the sun in just the right position to light the subject always makes for a great photo. Tod and Buz are leaving Kinsman Brass at the end of their shift and Joan is waiting outside the gates to ask for a favor. Please help me move my mother...
AG Birrell Co.
AG Birrell is still in business today on the west side of the square. And although they have changed the sign at least once since 1961, it looks like it's about time for another one.
In 1961, and through 2002, Birrell's was actually a Ford dealership. Today it is a towing company, parts store, service station, etc. The story goes that Ford always wanted Birrell's to install a large sign with the auto company's name prominently displayed but Birrell's resisted the change so Ford eventually dropped them as a dealer.
I've looked at the DVD as Birrell's is shown briefly but was unable to make out any new Fords in the showroom window, or on the lot for that matter. I wonder if Route 66, being sponsored by Chevrolet, had anything to do with that?
There will eventually be some more photos of Birrell's on the "extras" page.
Amity Cemetery Association
Virtually everyone over a certain age I talked to in Kinsman had fond memories of that week in 1961 when Hollywood came to town. Most admitted to being star-struck and it is interesting to note (although not really unusual) that a crowd of locals always gathered around each filming location with production assistants assigned to keep them quiet and out of the way.
One woman told me that when she (at age 12 or 13) witnessed the scene where a drunken Logan Ramsey attacks Susan Oliver just before being rescued by Tod and Buz ("you want us to take him apart?") she was absolutely terrified because she didn't yet understand acting.
And one mystery was at least partially cleared up. Why was the town called "Amity?" At first I believed that an Amity Cemetery Association actually existed and the producers of the show decided to use the name as the name of the town - but that turned out not to be the case. In reality, the cemetery office was actually the former home of the First National Bank which had just recently moved to a new location on the other side of the square. The office was vacant but still had all of the bank's furniture so it seems entirely plausible that the producers felt that this was a perfect location - essentially a closed set ready to go.
The production crew painted "Amity Cemetery Ass'n" in the window where it remained well into the 1970s when the drug store occupied the space. I now believe that Amity was the name used in a pre-existing script that was intended to be filmed in a small town where the television audience wouldn't know the difference.
At some point in time, Kinsman Discount Drugs move from the east side of the building, where it can be seen in the original screen shot, to the "Cemetery" office where it is today. I didn't think about getting pictures of the inside of the office until my second visit, but by the time I got around to photographing the square the drug stored was closed. It was only open for a few hours on Saturday morning.
The Funeral Home
Church St. at Potter's Field
Tod and Buz follow Joan into Potter's Field.
The garage in the original shot is gone, having been replaced by the house in the current shot.
"Every town has one," says Joan, "a Potter's Field."
Well, not quite every town. Kinsman didn't have one until the Route 66 production crew gathered together some sticks and fashioned crosses out of them to be placed in this grassy area across Kinsman Ridge Road from the cemetery as a makeshift Potter's Field.
This field is actually the back yard of the Presbyterian Manse located on Main Street - barely visible in my current shot - and not visible in the screen cap.
Originally I thought that this building on the square was being used as a hotel, but now I'm not certain at all why Tod, Buz and Joan walked up the steps to the porch to talk late at night. The story line doesn't seem to mention anything about it.
In 1961 it was a Doctor's office. It still is today (Kinsman Health Center) but it's been extnesively remodeled and now includes legal offices.
Frank Krassek's Home (?)
Every location photographed on this site has been verified to my complete satisfaction except this one. I was told by witnesses to the filming that this house was one of the locations used in the show and there is even a picture from 1961 of television lights somewhere on the property. But no one could actually tell me what scene was filmed here.
Process of elimiation has led me to believe that it was the location used for interior shots of the character Frank Krassek's home when Mr. Curry, Jr., the mortician, went to tell Krassek that Tod and Buz were in the cemetery digging a grave for Joan's mother. There are simply no other scenes in the show that I can't identify. So if this wasn't Krassek's home then the only other explanation I can imagine is something was filmed here and eventually left on the cutting-room floor. Not very likely with the extremely tight shooting schedule.
I will be making additional inquiries to settle the matter. The current owners of the home could almost certainly recognize the interior shots even if they were made nearly fifty years ago. If anyone from Kinsman can identify the house from this short video clip please contact me.
Home on Route 7
This home, on Route 7 just south of town, is seen briefly as Tod and Buz are driving to Aunt Helen's to inquire into the whereabouts of Joan. The scene goes on for a bit after this as they drive approximatley a half-mile or so further while talking.
But Aunt Helen's (next photo) is actually located next door. You can see it (or at least the garage) at the far left in the screen shot.
Aunt Helen's Home
Tod and Buz visit Joan's aunt to see if she knows where Joan has disappeared to.
Although this home is located right on Route 7 about a mile south of the square, I was unable to find it until I spoke with the Kinsman residents.
Initially, I looked at the farm in the backround and imagined two grain silos aligned almost perfectly so I thought that all I'd have to do was find them on Google Earth and extend a line in either direction and see what was there.
I did locate the silos on Google Earth but when I extended the line I got nothing that seemed even remotely possible as a location for this home. It wasn't until I was taken there by some of the residents that I realized what had happened.
There are actually two silos there but they are not aligned as I had imagined. What looks like two in the original shot is actually one silo and and its fill tube. If you look at the new photo you can see the second silo behind the garage.
Mr. Curry At The Cemetery
That's the Kinsman Presbyterian Church in the background. Here is another shot of the cemetery from the church's parking lot.
Joan is finally able to give her mother a proper burial - but it never would have happened without the help of Tod and Buz.
The preacher in this scence (far left) was not an actor - he was the Rev. Ralph Thompson of Kinsman in his first supporting role in a Hollywood production.