Magic Castle Marks 50 Years

The mansion itself is much older.

Hollywood's Magic Castle, home to the Academy of Magical Arts, turned 50 this week. It first opened its doors at 5 p.m. Jan. 2, 1963.

Academy president Neil Patrick Harris marked the anniversary with other members of the organization as well as Council Member Tom LaBonge and founder Irene Larsen, who was married to the late William Larsen Jr., another of the founders, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

William Larsen and his brother, Milt Larsen, a writer on NBC's Truth or Consequences, took the house over specifically to create a private club for magicians, fulfilling a dream of their father's, reports the Magic Castle website.

While the Academy itself is 50 years old, the Franklin Avenue mansion—originally dubbed Holly Chateau—is more than double that in age, according to the Magic Castle site. The house was built in 1909 by real estate investor Rollin B. Lane, who died in the house in what is now known as the Houdini Séance Room, Los Angeles Curbed reported in a recent article.

Prior to becoming the Magic Castle, the house was turned into a multi-family home, a home for the elderly and finally a "maze of small apartments," reports the Magic Castle website.

The house now has additions from all over Los Angeles: street lamps from Venice's Victoria Pier, cast iron work from the Masonic temple on Wilshire and chandeliers from the first Bullock's store in Downtown, Curbed said.

According to the Magic Castle's website, the mansion serves as a private clubhouse for the nearly 5,000 Academy members. As it is a private club, admittance to the Magic Castle requires membership or a guest card from a member.


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