We wouldn't think they'd let the squares from the Wall Street Journal up to the Moon Fire Ranch in Topanga Canyon, but they did, and they return with tales of the infamous hippie spot that hosted the Doors and the Mansons alike (Even if you've never heard of it, it's iconic, you know?). Lewis Beach Marvin III, the heir to the totally uncool S&H Green Stamps fortune (they were those stamps you'd get at the grocery store that you could trade in for prizes), bought the property in 1957 for $15,000 and "Over the next two decades, Mr. Marvin's estate became part-salon, part-muse for his motley crew of artistic friends." Those friends included, naturally, George Harrison, Andy Warhol, Tommy Chong, and Jim Morrison, as well as the Manson Family, supposedly, although the WSJ doesn't mention them.
The property is known especially for its Moon Fire Temple, but Marvin also raised his kids there--living spaces are spread between three buildings: the Round House, "a two-story living room built inside a water tank-like building whose interior includes porous rainforest-wood walls, a giant chandelier and 20-foot tall windows looking out on the Santa Monica Bay far below," and a geodesic dome that connects "to a trailer housing a kitchen next to one of the home's two bedrooms." There's just one bathroom. Power comes from solar panels and a backup generator; water comes from the sky. There are many stories out there of crazy llamas on the property as well.
It's hard to get a consistent accounting of the Moon Fire, but according to Ed Sanders's book The Family, "the place had been constructed for a 1966 movie called Harper, starring Paul Newman and Lauren Bacall ... In the film, the structure on the high hill above the Pacific belonged to a "religious fanatic" to serve as a "Temple in the clouds." Sanders also writes that "occult ceremonies had occurred" at the ranch and says a police source showed him where the Manson Family had painted cultic circles in the temple in 1970.
Anyway, here's Marvin and the ranch (and an adorable monkey) in the super-fun 1967 documentary Mondo Hollywood. Marvin died in 2005.
· A Cosmic Crash Pad [WSJ]