Jeffries Barn

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Jeffries Barn

Jeffries Barn refers to a once-famous, but now largely forgotten, building once owned by former World Heavyweight Champion James J. Jeffries, at the corner of Victory Blvd and Buena Vista Blvd in Burbank, CA, USA--long before Burbank became part of what is today known as "Hollywood"--with its many major movie and television studios.

By the early 1900s Jim Jeffries had built a large home and a barn on his 107-acre ranch property, having put $2,000 down for the property and assuming a $10,000 mortgage. In the beginning only ten acres were cultivated; the rest remained sagebrush and sand. Jeffries later developed another 93 acres and planted alfalfa. The market price for alfalfa dropped shortly after this time, and it did not pay for Jeffries to harvest his crop. So he decided to put cattle on the land to eat the alfalfa. This proved to be a prosperous enterprise. Jeffries became one of the country's foremost suppliers of thoroughbred bulls. Most of them were sold in Mexico and South America, thus establishing Burbank's first foreign trade relations.

Jeffries Barn2.jpg

In 1931 Jeffries converted his dairy barn, which was across the street from his ranch home, on the opposite corner, into a gym where he trained boxers and worked as a fight promoter. He promoted many fights out of "Jeffries' Barn," also known as "Jeffries Center," as well as holding Thursday night boxing matches until his death in 1953. (He also published the related The Barn News for a time. Sample Issue.)

After his death, the barn was dismantled and moved to Knott's Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park, Calif., on the fringe of Ghost Town. Knotts had a small boxing museum inside the barn, with an on-site historian, Al Nelson.

As one old-time visitor from the 1950s recalled in a Sept. 2019 BoxRec Forum post:

They stuffed a bunch of boxing memorabilia from that honkytonk era inside instead. I remember when you walked in there was always one of those player pianos making ragtime music. Old photographs of Jack Dempsey in his fighter's pose, Stanley Ketchel in his crouch left hand out right hand ready, Joe Gans erect and proud holding out his boxing gloves. There was "Terrible" Terry McGovern snarling and Jack Johnson smiling off his golden tooth. And last but not least there was Jeff striking a proud pose, his beefy arms folded across his barrel chest, ready to take on any man alive. With the piano music resonating and the faces of those bygone fighters when fighters were men and could take it as good as they gave, well, that was my slice of heaven for an afternoon. [1]

When Nelson died, and thus the boxing museum inside the Barn, in the 1960s, knowledge and fame of the building's historic boxing status dwindled. At one time the Barn housed a Japanese doll exhibit. There once was a brass plaque that identified it as "Jeffries Barn" but no reference to whom Jeffries was. The plaque may still exist, perhaps on the back wall of the structure now called the "Wilderness Dancehall."

  • Photo.
  • The Jeffries Barn, by Wes Clark: [2]
  • Dec. 2017 related video: [3].