Many Angelenos have explored Hollywood and have driven down Franklin Ave, but haven’t known what the castle-like building on the corner of Franklin and Orange actually is. Signs say The Magic Castle, which is a mystery for most, as it is a members-only club where magic comes alive. Since it opened in 1963, it’s hosted nearly all of the world’s best magicians and has since become the most unusual private club in the world.
The venue has a full service dining room and several bars giving guests a magical country club atmosphere. Dress code of formal attire is strictly enforced and you either need to be a member or be a guest of a member to enter. Oh, and to enter, visitors must say a secret phrase to a sculpture of an owl to gain access as a hidden door in the bookcase “magically” opens.
1.) It Used To Be Known As The Lane Mansion
The castle used to be an actual house, known as the Lane Mansion. The official building permit (a public record) was issued in July of 1909, to the firm of Dennis and Farwell, and the Lanes began residing there in 1910. The castle was specifically designed to closely resemble “Kimberly Crest” in Redlands, and Lane originally named the home the “Holly Chateau.” It was designed in the Chateau style, and was one of the first such residences in the area, which was then known as the Hollywood Flatlands.
The Library at the Magic Castle has one of the largest and most valued collections of magic books and videos in the world and is accessible by magician members every day of the week. A portion of the library that doesn’t reveal magic secrets can be accessed by associate members.
The Castle is actually much larger on the inside than on the outside. While the mansion is about 10,000 square feet, the interior is about 30,000 square feet. Once you travel from the entry, past the dining room, showrooms and into the far basement, and past the Jack Oakey Memorial Ladies Room, to the very furthest reach and exit the building and out the door, you find yourself magically back at the entrance.
4.) The Interview Process Might Be Harder Than Getting Into Harvard
In order to become a magician member, you need to go in front of a committee, audition by showing your proficiency in magic, and answer a series of interview questions demonstrating how being a member can benefit you and what you can add to the community.
Spend a night at The Magic Castle and you’ll undoubtedly want to take some photos to remember the night by, right? Wrong. No personal photography or videography is allowed anywhere in the castle, a rule originally adopted by then AMA President and actor Cary Grant.
6.) The Castle Offers Somewhat Of A Training Program
The castle has a juniors program for kids between the ages of 13-20, and offers beginning magic classes open to anyone above the age of 21 via their Magic University. In fact, Neil Patrick Harris used to be the president, and went through the juniors program at the castle. Did you know he was actually a magician before he became the TV sensation he is today?
7.) The Magic Castle Has Been Pieced Together Throughout The Years With History
The Magic Castle interior has been cobbled together over the years from many Los Angeles landmarks and movie sets. It has pieces from the first LA firehouse, Hollywood High School, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Hello Dolly, The Witches of Eastwick, and many others.
8.) Houdini Could Be Haunting This Castle
A fire broke out in the attic above the Houdini Seance Room on Halloween of 2011, which was 85 years to the day after Houdini’s death. The theme at the Castle that week was “Inferno” and images of flames were projected on the side of the building.
9.) Houdini Lives At The Magic Castle
Speaking of Houdini, the Magic Castle does a Houdini séance in a room with many pieces of Houdini memorabilia, including a straight jacket and the only pair of handcuffs that Houdini was not able to open.