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The (Probably) Real Laurel Canyon Houdini Ruins Are For Sale

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Here's a nice mysterious Halloween tale about Harry Houdini, who died on October 31, 1926: It's believed that Houdini and his wife Bess were living in Laurel Canyon in 1919 (while Houdini filmed for Famous Players-Lasky), but there's been a lot of confusion about the exact house. In 1959, the mansion at 2398 (now 2400) Laurel Canyon burnt down, and all the papers referred to the fire at the old Houdini mansion; however, that house actually belonged to Ralf Walker, a department store owner and friend of Houdini's. Houdini scholars are pretty sure that in 1919 the Houdinis actually stayed in the four-bedroom guesthouse at 2435 Laurel Canyon (across the street, on a knoll). There's no solid evidence for this, but there is lots of solid evidence that Bess lived at 2435 after Harry's death. According to the website Houdini's Ghost, the guesthouse "was built on solid rock and the hills around it were honeycombed with caves, some natural, some man-made. There was an elevator which took passengers down through the solid rock to a tunnel that went under Laurel Canyon Boulevard and came up in the gatehouse of the Walker mansion."

In 1935, Walker either died or sold the property, and Bess moved. According to Wild About Harry, "The property went through a series of renters, including evangelist Joe Jeffers, who turned the mansion into the Temple of Yahweh and required donations of up to $100,000 to live on the property." In 1959, both the main house and guesthouse burnt down and "All that remained was a smaller carriage house and the sprawling system of caves and stone walkways, which for the next few decades became home to hippies and homeless, including a mentally unstable man known as 'Robin Hood' who believed Laurel Canyon was Sherwood Forrest." Houdini-ists began to make pilgrimages to the ruins and some claimed to see/feel his ghost. (Houdini, incidentally, hated the occult; the famous seances his wife held were per an agreement they had that, if there was an afterlife, Houdini would get in touch.)

As for the guesthouse, apparently it's completely gone and the hillside itself has been graded back a bit. And the land is for sale! The listing notes that it's "across the street from the world famous Houdini Estate" and that includes three lots totaling 14,140 square feet. Asking price is $255,000.
· Houdini is Haunting the Wrong Mansion [Houdini's Ghost]
· Inside the Houdini Estate [Wild About Harry]
· 2435 LAUREL Cyn [Redfin]