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The Story of the Magic Castle, One of the Most LA Places in LA

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The members-only Magic Castle, newly-hot-and-trendy (seizure-inducing director McG will direct a movie based on the place), turned 50 yesterday, but the actual Magic Castle, first known as Holly Chateau, is actually more like 104. The strange house on Franklin was built in 1909 by real estate investor Rollin B. Lane, who moved from Wisconsin to California in the late 1800s--he helped develop Redlands and Corcoran and eventually become a society fixture (with his wife Katherine) in Hollywood. The super-thorough Hollywoodland blog tells Lane's entire tale; he and Katherine hit LA around 1902 and in early 1909 began work on a mansion at 7001 Franklin Avenue. The Holly Chateau was designed by Dennis and Farwell and "adapted from a residence in Redlands known as "Kimberly Crest" which has been preserved as a house museum": "A two-story frame and cement plaster house, Holly Chateau has a large basement and a finished attic under a mansard roof. The home initially had seventeen rooms including a roof garden and sun parlor. The basement contained a laundry, fruit and storage rooms and two large gas furnaces which heated the house."

Lane died of a stroke at the Holly in 1940, in what is now known as the Houdini Séance room. Katherine died in 1945 and the house became "a multi-family home, then it was a home for the elderly and lastly it was altered into a jumble of small apartments." The Lane family finally sold the house in 1955 (to the guy who created Yamashiro); it remained in limbo until Truth or Consequences writer Milt Larsen and his brother William finally took it over and turned it into a club for magicians (this was a dream of their father's, a guy who sounds like he'd be pretty cool to know).

The mansion has all kinds of new features since Lane's day: secret doors and panels, of course, but also street lamps along the driveway that once ran along Venice's Victoria Pier, cast iron frieze work from the Masonic temple on Wilshire, dining room paneling from Sunset's demolished Norma Talmadge Building, and chandeliers from the first Bullock's department store (in Downtown). So over its history the house has involved turn-of-the-century land investment, mid-century weirdness, Old Hollywood, TV writers, secret societies, the occult, and Bullock's--might be one of the most LA places in LA.

The Magic Castle will be celebrating its anniversary all year and even Milt Larsen is "hauling [his] ass out of mothballs" to perform in 2013, reports Los Angeles.
· Rollin B. Lane, and a little Hollywood magic [Hollywoodland]
· The Magic Castle Goes For the Big Reveal [LA]

Magic Castle

7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028