Los Angeles, renowned for its glamour and eclectic architecture, is home to a remarkable array of castles that transport visitors to a world of enchantment and grandeur. While the city is often associated with modernist architecture and Hollywood extravagance, its collection of castles showcases a different side—a fusion of history, fantasy, and architectural splendor. In this essay, we will delve into some of Los Angeles' best castles, each with its own unique story, design, and allure.
Nestled in the exclusive neighborhood of Beverly Hills, the Doheny Greystone Mansion is a breathtaking example of the Gothic Revival style. Constructed in 1928 for oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, this castle-like estate exudes elegance and grandeur. With its towering turrets, intricate stonework, and expansive gardens, the mansion offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the early 20th century elite.
Perched on a hilltop in San Fernando Valley, the O'Melveny Castle is a hidden gem that embodies the romanticism of medieval architecture. Built in 1926, this fairy tale castle features crenelated towers, arched doorways, and a drawbridge that creates a sense of whimsy and wonder. Surrounded by lush gardens and offering panoramic views of the city, the O'Melveny Castle is a testament to the imagination and vision of its creator, attorney Henry O'Melveny.
Located in Malibu, the Adamson House stands as a symbol of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Built in 1929, this seaside castle showcases intricate tile work, arched colonnades, and a commanding presence overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The interior of the house boasts exquisite craftsmanship, with decorative tiles, hand-carved woodwork, and vibrant frescoes. Today, the Adamson House serves as a museum, allowing visitors to appreciate the rich heritage and craftsmanship of early 20th century California.
While technically located in San Simeon, the Hearst Castle deserves mention for its monumental influence on castle architecture in California. Built by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, this opulent castle is a true masterpiece of architectural fusion, drawing inspiration from Mediterranean, Spanish, and Gothic styles. With its expansive grounds, lavish interiors, and art collection, the Hearst Castle stands as a testament to the grandeur and extravagance of the Gilded Age.
Los Angeles' best castles offer a glimpse into the city's architectural diversity and its ability to transport visitors to different times and places. From the Gothic Revival beauty of the Doheny Greystone Mansion to the whimsical allure of the O'Melveny Castle, these architectural marvels captivate the imagination and serve as reminders of the city's rich history and cultural heritage. The Adamson House and Hearst Castle showcase the opulence and craftsmanship of the early 20th century, while leaving visitors in awe of their grandeur and attention to detail.
Exploring these castles allows us to transcend the modern landscape of Los Angeles and step into a realm of elegance, fantasy, and historical significance. These architectural treasures embody the dreams and aspirations of their creators, leaving a lasting impression on all who visit. As guardians of history and architectural splendor, Los Angeles' castles stand as enduring symbols of the city's diverse cultural tapestry and its ability to inspire and captivate visitors from around the world.
Pic 1: The third LA Times Building on the NE corner of Broadway & 1st. Built in 1912 (two years after a bombing destroyed the old building), it was the newspaper's HQ until 1935 when they moved across the street to the now-classic Times Building. Pic from the Huntington Archives.
Pic 2: Castle Carcassonne on Glendower PI. in Los Feliz -1931. This is the only one in this set that is still with us - right next to the Los Feliz Murder House! Pic from USC.
Pic 3: Castle York at 3330 W. Adams Blvd. - seen here in 1956. Built in 1912 by the owner of Haggarty's dept. store, it was one of a few grand estates along Adams Blvd. The home was demolished in 1971. Pic from the UCLA Archives.
Pic 4: The Pacific Coast Club at 850 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach - pic from 1930. This magnificent structure opened in 1926 and all the big players in Long Beach were members. It remained popular through the 50s but had a slow decline from then on. The club was torn down in 1988. Pic from the USC Archives.
Pic 5: Another beachside castle that is no more! The Deauville Beach Club sat just north of the Santa Monica Pier from 1927 until it burned up in a catastrophic fire in 1964. Pic from the UCLA Archives.
Pic 6: The Armory Building on the corner of 8th & Spring ca. 1908. Built for the 7th Regiment of the National Guard of CA, it served its function until the new armory was built in Exposition Park in 1914. It was torn down in 1938. Pic from the USC Archives.