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Young and old hippies gather at a park in Los Angeles in 1970.
Hippies in Los Angeles in 1970.
Los Angeles Public Library photo collection

Mapped: Communal living in Southern California

From a hippie cooperative to a monastic paradise, the experimental communes that were built in and around LA

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Hippies in Los Angeles in 1970.
| Los Angeles Public Library photo collection

Since the 19th century, Southern California has been seen as an ideal place to build an ideal society. But Utopia means different things to different people. For some it is a cooperative hippie commune, for others an orderly working-class suburb, or a monastic paradise created expressly for study and religious contemplation.

Join us, as we explore the communities that have formed out of the dreams of some of our most idealistic SoCal residents, and their fates as they met with the cold, hard reality of modern California life.

For more on the topic of communal and experimental living, take a dive into our incredible archive of cult stories:

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1. Krotona

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2130 Vista Del Mar Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Nestled in the hills of Beachwood Canyon, the community of 300-odd souls known as Krotona was for a time in the early 20th century the national headquarters of the esoteric, high-minded Theosophical Society. Here, followers of Helena P. Blavatsky, founder of the theosophy movement, lived, meditated, studied and worked in fantastical buildings designed for them by prominent architects including Richard Requa and Arthur and Alfred Heinemen. A reporter visiting Krotona described an idyllic scene:

[Outside] you won't see nor hear any movement … except the birds in the trees, the humming insects in the lazy sunshine, and the daring goldfish in the splashy fountains, while the roses nod to you, and the little Moorish summer houses with their enveloping vines will make you sure you've discovered a bit of dreamland.

But this utopian dreamland was not to last. Annoyed by increasingly cosmopolitan Hollywood, the Theosophist’s decamped for Ojai in 1924, where they remain to this day. Many of their Beachwood Canyon buildings, including the iconic Krotona Inn, are now sought after apartments and luxury estates.

The Krotona Inn today.
Cat Vasko

2. Magon Commune

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Ivanhoe Reservoir
Los Angeles, CA 90039

According to journalist Bonnie Johnson, exiled Mexican anarchist and social revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magon rented a 5-acre plot at Silverlake’s Ivanhoe Reservoir in 1914. Here, he and his followers lived in a ramshackle commune of small shacks, growing produce and poultry which they sold in Downtown Los Angeles.

The commune also produced Regeneración, a revolutionary newspaper. In 1916, the community was raided and Magon was arrested (at the urging of the bellicose Harrison Gray Otis, whose hatred of socialists and communists knew no bounds). The commune was soon disbanded, and Magon was convicted of sedition. He died at Leavenworth Prison.

Ricardo and Enrique Magon in the Los Angeles County Jail in 1917.
Public Domain via Wikimedia.

3. Llano del Rio

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34°30'23.3"N 117°49'37.5"W
Llano, CA 93544

Perhaps California’s most famous Utopian experiment, this socialist colony deep in the Antelope Valley was incorporated in 1913. Founded by famed socialist Job Harriman, Llano Del Rio had at its peak some 1,500 residents attempting a communal, co-equal way of life in the harsh, deserted desert. By 1917, the commune boasted its own hotel, Montessori school, art studio, hatchery, library, dairy, barbershop, machine shop and a printing press which cranked out Harriman’s numerous socialist tracts.

But the colonies glory day’s proved to be short-lived. In 1918, Llano Del Rio was abandoned, the victim of in-fighting, financial woes and that old California problem- lack of water. Some colonists followed Harriman to New Llano in Louisiana, while others stayed in the Antelope Valley.

Decades later, writer Aldous Huxley interviewed some of the Llano colonists. “All of them bore witness to the happiness of those first few months at Llano,” he wrote. “Housing, to be sure, was inadequate: food monotonous, and work extremely hard. But there was a sense of shared high purpose, a sustaining conviction that one had broken out of an age-old prison and was marching, shoulder to shoulder, with loyal comrades, into a promised land.”

A stone fireplace in the middle of the desert, part of the ruins at Llano del Rio.
Llano del Rio today.

4. Pisgah

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6038 Echo St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

This charitable religious community was founded by a born-again Pentecostal doctor named Finis Ewing Yoakum. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Cecilia Rasmussen, Yoakum claimed god spoke to him on a hill in the Arroyo Secco in 1896. He named the hill Mount Pisgah (after a mountain in the bible) and went to work creating a community focused on aiding and assisting the sick and the poor. Pisgah Home grew around Yoakum’s Queen Anne-style house on Echo Street in Highland Park. It included a church, cafeteria and homeless shelter.

By 1914, Yoakum’s Highland Park neighbors were complaining about the number of indigents and “undesirables” staying in the makeshift tent city that had grown around Pisgah Home. So the community built Pisgah Gardens, a compound located on 3,200 acres of ranch-land in the Simi Valley. Some 400 people soon lived on the compound, which included a prayer tower, working farm, schoolhouse and post office.

But the community quickly fell apart after the charismatic Yoakum’s death in 1920. The family sold off the Simi Valley compound in the 1920s, and the Highland Park property in the 1930s. Today, much of Yoakum’s compound in Highland Park still stands. It is now owned by the Christ Faith Mission and Pisgah Village, LP.

Pisgah today.
Hadley Meares

5. Little Landers

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10110 Commerce Ave
Tujunga, CA 91042
(818) 352-3420
Visit Website

Founded by the ironically wealthy progressive reporter William Ellsworth Smythe, the “Little Landers” cooperative was based on Smythe’s belief that, “a little land and a living, surely, is better than a desperate struggle and great wealth.” Believing that California was the promised land for the common man, he started the first Little Landers farming commune near San Diego in 1908. In 1913, he teamed with a developer to start a second commune on 273 acres of boulder-strewn ranch-land in the Tujunga Valley.

The new community, made up mostly of idealistic, progressive Angelino’s escaping the city, centered around Bolton Hall, which (like many of the Little Landers homes) was constructed with boulders on the land. Among the "Little Landers" were asthma sufferers, Civil War vets, middle aged bachelors, eccentric artists and, according to settler Mabel Hatch,"lots and lots of spinsters.” Independent women flourished in the new community, where arts and crafts, hard work, and individuality were all prized.

But the rocky soil proved inhospitable to farming, and lack of water and frequent fires caused more problems. By the 1920s, many of the original Little Landers sold their plots, and Bolton Hall was turned into an American Legion. Today, Bolton Hall is a museum, where you can learn about this little, soft-hearted community, which never really found its footing on the harsh Tuhunga terrain.

Bolton Hall today
Hadley Meares

6. Synanon

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1910 Ocean Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-5533
Visit Website

Founded in Los Angeles by former addict Charles E. Dederich in 1958, Synanon started out as an innovative drug rehab program. According to journalist Matt Novak, Dederich soon transformed Synanon into an experimental communal society that he hoped would transform the world. "This is the kind of revolution that moved the world from Judaism to Catholicism to Protestantism to Synanism," Dederich said. "This is a total revolution game."

Starting in 1967, Synanon members lived and worked out of the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, once a grand jazz age hotel that had fallen on hard times. With properties all over the state, the group grew to include non-addicts, who simply wanted to become part of the groups communal way of living. Over the 1970s, Synanon transformed into a sinister religious cult. Dederich and his followers resorted to violence in an attempt to silence critics. They failed. In 1991, Synanon permanently disbanded.

Today, Casa del Mar is once again a beautiful, luxurious hotel—an entirely different kind of Utopia.

Casa Del Mar
Shutterstock

7. The Hog Farm

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Sunland-Tujunga
Los Angeles, CA 91040

In the late 1960s, famed hippie prankster Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy, and his nomadic band of counter-culture followers lived in this ramshackle commune, which they nicknamed the Hog Farm. High in the deserted hills above Sylmar, commune members were usually high on LSD, pot, or a combination of both. In 1968, a reporter for Avant Garde magazine reported on the unique way the community was run:

Administration of the commune is on a daily rotation basis with everyone, kids included, taking turns as "Dance Master" or "Dance Mistress." "When you have this many people living together," Romney observes, "you've got to dance or you step on somebody's hand." The Dance Master sees that things get done by someone who wants to do them. He coordinates. He mobilizes the as-needed "garbage runs". Several times a week, by law, the supermarkets throw out tons of perfectly edible vegetables and fruit. The Hog Famers browse in these remains, unobtrusive parasites on the nutritive wastes of an affluent society. The Dance Mistress sees to the day's meals. Vegetable stews and cheap brown rice feed the people.

The group soon decamped for less dusty quarters. Wavy Gravy and his followers still live at various Hog Farm locations, including one in Berkeley. The old Sylmar location is now owned by a small community church.

The Hog Farm
Photo: Julian Wasser, Caption: Peter Schjeldahl in Avant Garde Magazine: Volume Five

8. Elysia

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Ortega Hwy
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

This pioneering nudist colony, nestled in the Cleveland National Forest high above Lake Elsinore, was founded by Hobart and Lura Glassey in 1933. Believing that nudism and full body sun exposure were beneficial to physical, emotional and spiritual health, the colony attracted Hollywood, which shot two films—Elysia (1933) and The Unashamed (1938)—on the property. During the colonies eight decade history it was called many things- Elysian Fields, Elysia, Olympic Fields, McConnville and Mystic Oaks. But the nude lifestyle remained. In 1997, a reporter toured the property on a golf cart with the current owners:

We drive to the main office, filled with photo albums and reference books such as "California's Nude Beaches, the Clothes-Free/Hassle-Free Guide." A bumper sticker reads: "Happiness is ... no tan lines.” Ole and Gale Nilson are typical of the resort's 150 members: thin and gloriously tan, neither beautiful nor ugly, creeping into their late 40s. … from playing games to sitting around the campfire, members appear completely unself-conscious, completely nonsexual ...There's even the annual "Night of Elegance," a formal dinner celebration. "We get dressed up without getting dressed up," Ole says. "Bow ties only, that kind of thing."

The colony finally closed in 2007, forcing its handful of permanent residents to find a new version of Eden before the fall.

Olympic Fields in 1937.
Works Progress Administration Collection/LAPL Photo Archive

9. Torrance

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1920 Gramercy Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

Writing for Curbed LA, Steven Treffers says that in 1912, Jared S. Torrance and his partners, the founders of Torrence, set out to create their own version of Utopia—a “modern industrial city” exempt from unions and zoning laws. They hired famed SoCal modernist Irving J. Gill to design their planned town’s buildings. He was particularly interested the creation of economically democratic workers neighborhood’s of single-family homes, based on the belief that they would encourage “moral behaviors while discouraging unrest.”

On the newly laid out Gramercy Avenue, Gill designed 10 four-room bungalows of concrete and stucco, with innovative features that made them hygienic and hospitable. They were "almost monastic in their austere simplicity, the wide, unbroken wall spaces in their neutral tints proclaim peace, restful quiet." Torrance residents, however, were unimpressed with Gill’s stark version of Utopia, and the entire project floundered.

Torrance would not grown substantially LA’s post-war suburban boom. Today, only three of Gill’s Utopian residences remain.

F.B. Lewis Court
Photo via San Diego History Center

10. Halcyon

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906 S Halcyon Rd
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Founded by a group of Theosophists in 1903, Halcyon is located on 125-acres in San Louis Obispo County. Settled by New York Theosophists Francia LaDue and Dr. William Dower, at its height, the cooperative community included a working farm, craft shops, a general store, world-class library, and a printing press. The Blue Star Memorial Temple named after LaDue, known as the “Blue Star,” was designed by well-known LA architect Theodore Eisen in 1923. Today, it is known as “The Temple of the People.”

Halcyon now includes single family homes, and boasts around 100 members. The community still publishes the Theosophical magazine the Artisan, started by the founders decades ago.

11. Mountain Drive

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300 Mountain Dr
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

This bohemian Santa Barbara neighborhood started as place for post-war beatniks to live and create in a rustic, non-judgemental community. “This sleepy-looking corner of Santa Barbara was once the epicenter of one of California’s most spirited utopian communities,” reporter Katherine Stewart writes, “where naked nymphs danced on grapes harvested from the Santa Ynez Valley, then rinsed off in the radical innovation we now know as the hot tub.”

Centered along winding Mountain Drive, this unofficial commune was the home of architects, artists, painters and writers. Lovingly called the “chicken yard of Monticito,” it was famous for its annual Wine Stomp, and weekly community get-togethers. These included the men’s only Sunset Club, and the women’s only Stitch and Bitch. Many residents were committed nudists and believed in free love and experimental drug use.

“It was a utopia if you were an ‘alpha male’,” recalled Judy Young, a frequent visitor. “These men spawned dynasties, made their houses by hand and worked whatever their art was. They wanted to have interesting, aesthetic lives, and they did. They all drank heavily and smoked. They thought they could get away with it forever. But like all dreams, it didn’t last.”

According to Stewart, Mountain Drive is still a close-knit-, if more traditional and family-friendly- community. “Back in the 1960s, parents were off doing their own thing and weren’t paying very close attention to us kids,” one resident told her. “Today, however, the kids are the focus. There are 30 or 40 kids at every event. And they’re well cared for.”

12. Moy Mell

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100 Pier Ave
Oceano, CA 93445
(805) 773-7170
Visit Website

In 1931, publisher Gavin Arthur, grandson of President Chester A. Arthur, started this idyllic Utopian community among the picturesque sand dunes in Oceano Dunes. He named the bohemian community Moy Mell, Gaelic for “Pastures of Honey.” According to Kcet’s Sarah Linn, the peaceful dunes soon became “a mecca for intellectual, spiritual and social reformers” who called themselves “Dunites.” Artists like Elwood Decker made their home here in rustic cabins, and were visited by luminaries including mystic Meher Baba, John Steinbeck and Edward Weston. For a time, Arthur put out a magazine called “Dune Forum,” which included contributions from local Dunites. The colony dwindled during the war, and had ceased to be by the 1970s.

In 2010, Arthur’s little cabin was moved to the Oceano Train Depot, the last building that survives of Moy Mell.

Molly Mel in 1934.
Virgil Hodges courtesy of Bennett-Loomis Archives

13. The Source

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2411 Inverness Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

This legendary music-producing, vegetarian, free-love hippie-cult, founded by Jim Baker aka Father Yod, created their own version of Utopia in the “Mother House,” a sprawling Los Feliz mansion built by the blue-blooded Chandler family in 1914. For one year, in 1972, they lived their communal lifestyle in the mansion, wearing all-white, practicing free love, and raising their children as a group, until the Chandler’s declined to renew their lease. “We were kind to everyone,” a member recalled, “and kept the house immaculate, but we were up at 3:30 a.m. every morning for meditation, played music, and liked to walk around nude, among other things. sometimes we would see men on the hill peering down at us with binoculars, and police helicopters occasionally hovered over the compound."

The Source then moved to the “Father House,” an estate in Nichols Canyon where 140 people crammed into the three-bedroom home. To make more space, they built “beehives,-” small wooden enclosures where members could sleep. In 1974, Father Yod and his followers moved to Hawaii, where he died a year later in a hang-gliding accident.

The Source Cult.
Image via Messy Nessy Chic

14. Lomaland

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3900 Lomaland Dr
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 849-2200
Visit Website

Madame Katherine Tingley, known as “the purple mother,” was named successor to Theosophical Society president William Q. Judge in 1896. In 1900, she decamped to Point Loma and opened the “School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity,” and other facilities- including housing for fellow Theosophists and the first Greek Theater in America. Nicknamed “Lomaland,” the colony was an important hub for the arts in Southern California. Today, Lomaland is home to Point Loma Nazarene College.

Theosophical Society- Point Loma
C.C. Pierce Collection/LAPL

15. Allensworth

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Located 30 miles outside of Bakersfield, this town was founded in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth, a former slave. Allensworth was a minister, teacher and the first black man to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Allensworth was the only California town funded and governed solely by black Americans. “Their dream of developing an abundant and thriving community stemmed directly from a strong belief in programs that allowed blacks to help themselves create better lives,” one government history notes. “By 1910 Allensworth’s success was the focus of many national newspaper articles praising the town and its inhabitants.”

Sadly, the town’s progress was hampered by poor soil, inadequate water resources and the loss of the Santa Fe railroad stop. In 1914, Allensworth was killed when he was hit by a motorcycle. Some of the towns pioneering families still live in the area. Historic downtown Allensworth is now part of the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Bobak Ha'Eri

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1. Krotona

2130 Vista Del Mar Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068
The Krotona Inn today.
Cat Vasko

Nestled in the hills of Beachwood Canyon, the community of 300-odd souls known as Krotona was for a time in the early 20th century the national headquarters of the esoteric, high-minded Theosophical Society. Here, followers of Helena P. Blavatsky, founder of the theosophy movement, lived, meditated, studied and worked in fantastical buildings designed for them by prominent architects including Richard Requa and Arthur and Alfred Heinemen. A reporter visiting Krotona described an idyllic scene:

[Outside] you won't see nor hear any movement … except the birds in the trees, the humming insects in the lazy sunshine, and the daring goldfish in the splashy fountains, while the roses nod to you, and the little Moorish summer houses with their enveloping vines will make you sure you've discovered a bit of dreamland.

But this utopian dreamland was not to last. Annoyed by increasingly cosmopolitan Hollywood, the Theosophist’s decamped for Ojai in 1924, where they remain to this day. Many of their Beachwood Canyon buildings, including the iconic Krotona Inn, are now sought after apartments and luxury estates.

2130 Vista Del Mar Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068

2. Magon Commune

Ivanhoe Reservoir, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Ricardo and Enrique Magon in the Los Angeles County Jail in 1917.
Public Domain via Wikimedia.

According to journalist Bonnie Johnson, exiled Mexican anarchist and social revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magon rented a 5-acre plot at Silverlake’s Ivanhoe Reservoir in 1914. Here, he and his followers lived in a ramshackle commune of small shacks, growing produce and poultry which they sold in Downtown Los Angeles.

The commune also produced Regeneración, a revolutionary newspaper. In 1916, the community was raided and Magon was arrested (at the urging of the bellicose Harrison Gray Otis, whose hatred of socialists and communists knew no bounds). The commune was soon disbanded, and Magon was convicted of sedition. He died at Leavenworth Prison.

Ivanhoe Reservoir
Los Angeles, CA 90039

3. Llano del Rio

34°30'23.3"N 117°49'37.5"W, Llano, CA 93544
A stone fireplace in the middle of the desert, part of the ruins at Llano del Rio.
Llano del Rio today.

Perhaps California’s most famous Utopian experiment, this socialist colony deep in the Antelope Valley was incorporated in 1913. Founded by famed socialist Job Harriman, Llano Del Rio had at its peak some 1,500 residents attempting a communal, co-equal way of life in the harsh, deserted desert. By 1917, the commune boasted its own hotel, Montessori school, art studio, hatchery, library, dairy, barbershop, machine shop and a printing press which cranked out Harriman’s numerous socialist tracts.

But the colonies glory day’s proved to be short-lived. In 1918, Llano Del Rio was abandoned, the victim of in-fighting, financial woes and that old California problem- lack of water. Some colonists followed Harriman to New Llano in Louisiana, while others stayed in the Antelope Valley.

Decades later, writer Aldous Huxley interviewed some of the Llano colonists. “All of them bore witness to the happiness of those first few months at Llano,” he wrote. “Housing, to be sure, was inadequate: food monotonous, and work extremely hard. But there was a sense of shared high purpose, a sustaining conviction that one had broken out of an age-old prison and was marching, shoulder to shoulder, with loyal comrades, into a promised land.”

34°30'23.3"N 117°49'37.5"W
Llano, CA 93544

4. Pisgah

6038 Echo St, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Pisgah today.
Hadley Meares

This charitable religious community was founded by a born-again Pentecostal doctor named Finis Ewing Yoakum. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Cecilia Rasmussen, Yoakum claimed god spoke to him on a hill in the Arroyo Secco in 1896. He named the hill Mount Pisgah (after a mountain in the bible) and went to work creating a community focused on aiding and assisting the sick and the poor. Pisgah Home grew around Yoakum’s Queen Anne-style house on Echo Street in Highland Park. It included a church, cafeteria and homeless shelter.

By 1914, Yoakum’s Highland Park neighbors were complaining about the number of indigents and “undesirables” staying in the makeshift tent city that had grown around Pisgah Home. So the community built Pisgah Gardens, a compound located on 3,200 acres of ranch-land in the Simi Valley. Some 400 people soon lived on the compound, which included a prayer tower, working farm, schoolhouse and post office.

But the community quickly fell apart after the charismatic Yoakum’s death in 1920. The family sold off the Simi Valley compound in the 1920s, and the Highland Park property in the 1930s. Today, much of Yoakum’s compound in Highland Park still stands. It is now owned by the Christ Faith Mission and Pisgah Village, LP.

6038 Echo St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

5. Little Landers

10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, CA 91042
Bolton Hall today
Hadley Meares

Founded by the ironically wealthy progressive reporter William Ellsworth Smythe, the “Little Landers” cooperative was based on Smythe’s belief that, “a little land and a living, surely, is better than a desperate struggle and great wealth.” Believing that California was the promised land for the common man, he started the first Little Landers farming commune near San Diego in 1908. In 1913, he teamed with a developer to start a second commune on 273 acres of boulder-strewn ranch-land in the Tujunga Valley.

The new community, made up mostly of idealistic, progressive Angelino’s escaping the city, centered around Bolton Hall, which (like many of the Little Landers homes) was constructed with boulders on the land. Among the "Little Landers" were asthma sufferers, Civil War vets, middle aged bachelors, eccentric artists and, according to settler Mabel Hatch,"lots and lots of spinsters.” Independent women flourished in the new community, where arts and crafts, hard work, and individuality were all prized.

But the rocky soil proved inhospitable to farming, and lack of water and frequent fires caused more problems. By the 1920s, many of the original Little Landers sold their plots, and Bolton Hall was turned into an American Legion. Today, Bolton Hall is a museum, where you can learn about this little, soft-hearted community, which never really found its footing on the harsh Tuhunga terrain.

10110 Commerce Ave
Tujunga, CA 91042

6. Synanon

1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Casa Del Mar
Shutterstock

Founded in Los Angeles by former addict Charles E. Dederich in 1958, Synanon started out as an innovative drug rehab program. According to journalist Matt Novak, Dederich soon transformed Synanon into an experimental communal society that he hoped would transform the world. "This is the kind of revolution that moved the world from Judaism to Catholicism to Protestantism to Synanism," Dederich said. "This is a total revolution game."

Starting in 1967, Synanon members lived and worked out of the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, once a grand jazz age hotel that had fallen on hard times. With properties all over the state, the group grew to include non-addicts, who simply wanted to become part of the groups communal way of living. Over the 1970s, Synanon transformed into a sinister religious cult. Dederich and his followers resorted to violence in an attempt to silence critics. They failed. In 1991, Synanon permanently disbanded.

Today, Casa del Mar is once again a beautiful, luxurious hotel—an entirely different kind of Utopia.

1910 Ocean Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405

7. The Hog Farm

Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91040
The Hog Farm
Photo: Julian Wasser, Caption: Peter Schjeldahl in Avant Garde Magazine: Volume Five

In the late 1960s, famed hippie prankster Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy, and his nomadic band of counter-culture followers lived in this ramshackle commune, which they nicknamed the Hog Farm. High in the deserted hills above Sylmar, commune members were usually high on LSD, pot, or a combination of both. In 1968, a reporter for Avant Garde magazine reported on the unique way the community was run:

Administration of the commune is on a daily rotation basis with everyone, kids included, taking turns as "Dance Master" or "Dance Mistress." "When you have this many people living together," Romney observes, "you've got to dance or you step on somebody's hand." The Dance Master sees that things get done by someone who wants to do them. He coordinates. He mobilizes the as-needed "garbage runs". Several times a week, by law, the supermarkets throw out tons of perfectly edible vegetables and fruit. The Hog Famers browse in these remains, unobtrusive parasites on the nutritive wastes of an affluent society. The Dance Mistress sees to the day's meals. Vegetable stews and cheap brown rice feed the people.

The group soon decamped for less dusty quarters. Wavy Gravy and his followers still live at various Hog Farm locations, including one in Berkeley. The old Sylmar location is now owned by a small community church.

Sunland-Tujunga
Los Angeles, CA 91040

8. Elysia

Ortega Hwy, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
Olympic Fields in 1937.
Works Progress Administration Collection/LAPL Photo Archive

This pioneering nudist colony, nestled in the Cleveland National Forest high above Lake Elsinore, was founded by Hobart and Lura Glassey in 1933. Believing that nudism and full body sun exposure were beneficial to physical, emotional and spiritual health, the colony attracted Hollywood, which shot two films—Elysia (1933) and The Unashamed (1938)—on the property. During the colonies eight decade history it was called many things- Elysian Fields, Elysia, Olympic Fields, McConnville and Mystic Oaks. But the nude lifestyle remained. In 1997, a reporter toured the property on a golf cart with the current owners:

We drive to the main office, filled with photo albums and reference books such as "California's Nude Beaches, the Clothes-Free/Hassle-Free Guide." A bumper sticker reads: "Happiness is ... no tan lines.” Ole and Gale Nilson are typical of the resort's 150 members: thin and gloriously tan, neither beautiful nor ugly, creeping into their late 40s. … from playing games to sitting around the campfire, members appear completely unself-conscious, completely nonsexual ...There's even the annual "Night of Elegance," a formal dinner celebration. "We get dressed up without getting dressed up," Ole says. "Bow ties only, that kind of thing."

The colony finally closed in 2007, forcing its handful of permanent residents to find a new version of Eden before the fall.

Ortega Hwy
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

9. Torrance

1920 Gramercy Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
F.B. Lewis Court
Photo via San Diego History Center

Writing for Curbed LA, Steven Treffers says that in 1912, Jared S. Torrance and his partners, the founders of Torrence, set out to create their own version of Utopia—a “modern industrial city” exempt from unions and zoning laws. They hired famed SoCal modernist Irving J. Gill to design their planned town’s buildings. He was particularly interested the creation of economically democratic workers neighborhood’s of single-family homes, based on the belief that they would encourage “moral behaviors while discouraging unrest.”

On the newly laid out Gramercy Avenue, Gill designed 10 four-room bungalows of concrete and stucco, with innovative features that made them hygienic and hospitable. They were "almost monastic in their austere simplicity, the wide, unbroken wall spaces in their neutral tints proclaim peace, restful quiet." Torrance residents, however, were unimpressed with Gill’s stark version of Utopia, and the entire project floundered.

Torrance would not grown substantially LA’s post-war suburban boom. Today, only three of Gill’s Utopian residences remain.

1920 Gramercy Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

10. Halcyon

906 S Halcyon Rd, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Founded by a group of Theosophists in 1903, Halcyon is located on 125-acres in San Louis Obispo County. Settled by New York Theosophists Francia LaDue and Dr. William Dower, at its height, the cooperative community included a working farm, craft shops, a general store, world-class library, and a printing press. The Blue Star Memorial Temple named after LaDue, known as the “Blue Star,” was designed by well-known LA architect Theodore Eisen in 1923. Today, it is known as “The Temple of the People.”

Halcyon now includes single family homes, and boasts around 100 members. The community still publishes the Theosophical magazine the Artisan, started by the founders decades ago.

906 S Halcyon Rd
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

11. Mountain Drive

300 Mountain Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

This bohemian Santa Barbara neighborhood started as place for post-war beatniks to live and create in a rustic, non-judgemental community. “This sleepy-looking corner of Santa Barbara was once the epicenter of one of California’s most spirited utopian communities,” reporter Katherine Stewart writes, “where naked nymphs danced on grapes harvested from the Santa Ynez Valley, then rinsed off in the radical innovation we now know as the hot tub.”

Centered along winding Mountain Drive, this unofficial commune was the home of architects, artists, painters and writers. Lovingly called the “chicken yard of Monticito,” it was famous for its annual Wine Stomp, and weekly community get-togethers. These included the men’s only Sunset Club, and the women’s only Stitch and Bitch. Many residents were committed nudists and believed in free love and experimental drug use.

“It was a utopia if you were an ‘alpha male’,” recalled Judy Young, a frequent visitor. “These men spawned dynasties, made their houses by hand and worked whatever their art was. They wanted to have interesting, aesthetic lives, and they did. They all drank heavily and smoked. They thought they could get away with it forever. But like all dreams, it didn’t last.”

According to Stewart, Mountain Drive is still a close-knit-, if more traditional and family-friendly- community. “Back in the 1960s, parents were off doing their own thing and weren’t paying very close attention to us kids,” one resident told her. “Today, however, the kids are the focus. There are 30 or 40 kids at every event. And they’re well cared for.”

300 Mountain Dr
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

12. Moy Mell

100 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445
Molly Mel in 1934.
Virgil Hodges courtesy of Bennett-Loomis Archives

In 1931, publisher Gavin Arthur, grandson of President Chester A. Arthur, started this idyllic Utopian community among the picturesque sand dunes in Oceano Dunes. He named the bohemian community Moy Mell, Gaelic for “Pastures of Honey.” According to Kcet’s Sarah Linn, the peaceful dunes soon became “a mecca for intellectual, spiritual and social reformers” who called themselves “Dunites.” Artists like Elwood Decker made their home here in rustic cabins, and were visited by luminaries including mystic Meher Baba, John Steinbeck and Edward Weston. For a time, Arthur put out a magazine called “Dune Forum,” which included contributions from local Dunites. The colony dwindled during the war, and had ceased to be by the 1970s.

In 2010, Arthur’s little cabin was moved to the Oceano Train Depot, the last building that survives of Moy Mell.

100 Pier Ave
Oceano, CA 93445

13. The Source

2411 Inverness Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Source Cult.
Image via Messy Nessy Chic

This legendary music-producing, vegetarian, free-love hippie-cult, founded by Jim Baker aka Father Yod, created their own version of Utopia in the “Mother House,” a sprawling Los Feliz mansion built by the blue-blooded Chandler family in 1914. For one year, in 1972, they lived their communal lifestyle in the mansion, wearing all-white, practicing free love, and raising their children as a group, until the Chandler’s declined to renew their lease. “We were kind to everyone,” a member recalled, “and kept the house immaculate, but we were up at 3:30 a.m. every morning for meditation, played music, and liked to walk around nude, among other things. sometimes we would see men on the hill peering down at us with binoculars, and police helicopters occasionally hovered over the compound."

The Source then moved to the “Father House,” an estate in Nichols Canyon where 140 people crammed into the three-bedroom home. To make more space, they built “beehives,-” small wooden enclosures where members could sleep. In 1974, Father Yod and his followers moved to Hawaii, where he died a year later in a hang-gliding accident.

2411 Inverness Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

14. Lomaland

3900 Lomaland Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
Theosophical Society- Point Loma
C.C. Pierce Collection/LAPL

Madame Katherine Tingley, known as “the purple mother,” was named successor to Theosophical Society president William Q. Judge in 1896. In 1900, she decamped to Point Loma and opened the “School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity,” and other facilities- including housing for fellow Theosophists and the first Greek Theater in America. Nicknamed “Lomaland,” the colony was an important hub for the arts in Southern California. Today, Lomaland is home to Point Loma Nazarene College.

3900 Lomaland Dr
San Diego, CA 92106

15. Allensworth

Allensworth, CA 93219
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Bobak Ha'Eri

Located 30 miles outside of Bakersfield, this town was founded in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth, a former slave. Allensworth was a minister, teacher and the first black man to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Allensworth was the only California town funded and governed solely by black Americans. “Their dream of developing an abundant and thriving community stemmed directly from a strong belief in programs that allowed blacks to help themselves create better lives,” one government history notes. “By 1910 Allensworth’s success was the focus of many national newspaper articles praising the town and its inhabitants.”

Sadly, the town’s progress was hampered by poor soil, inadequate water resources and the loss of the Santa Fe railroad stop. In 1914, Allensworth was killed when he was hit by a motorcycle. Some of the towns pioneering families still live in the area. Historic downtown Allensworth is now part of the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.