BACKSTORY (January 2, 1963—Present): (From the Magic Castle website): The Magic Castle is the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc, a very special organization devoted to the advancement of the ancient art of magic. The purpose of The Academy is to encourage and promote public interest in the art of magic with particular emphasis on preserving its history as an art form, entertainment medium, and hobby. Beginning with a charter membership of 150, the Academy has grown into a world-renowned fraternal organization with a membership of nearly 5,000.
The Magic Castle began its life as a private home built in 1909 by banker and real estate magnate Rollin B. Lane. Mr. Lane owned much of what is now Hollywood, dreaming of turning his land into orange groves, farms and ranches. But a severe drought brought an end to his dreams and orange blossoms never filled the valley. After the Lane family moved away in the 1940s, the mansion was divided into a multi-family home, then became a home for the elderly, and was finally transformed into a maze of small apartments. By 1960, the fate of the Mansion was uncertain. Then Milt Larsen met the owner, Thomas O. Glover.
Milt was a writer on the NBC TV show "Truth or Consequences." His office was on the ninth floor of a Hollywood office building that overlooked the Lane mansion. Milt's late father, William W. Larsen, Sr., was a renowned magician and had long dreamed of building an elegant private club for magicians.
The Lane mansion would become that club. In September of 1961, Milt and a crew of eternally generous friends and volunteers began the extraordinary task of returning this run-down apartment building to its glorious past. After months of scraping and sanding, the rich Victorian elegance began to resurface.
The Magic Castle opened its doors at 5 p.m. on January 2, 1963. Today more than four decades later, the Castle has become the world-famous "home" to the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.and their invited guests.
From The Magic Castle Brochure, Milt Larsen, founder, gives this greeting:
When you spoke the words "Open Sesame" and entered our Castle you left the reality world behind you. In 1963 my late brother and I magically turned a grand 1910 mansion into a club for magicians. We created an old world charm that you might find in London, Paris or New York. We wanted you to feel that you have been invited to a party in the elaborate estate of a famous magician. Please enjoy our fun atmosphere, food and libations and above all, appreciate the opportunity to witness a plethora of famed sleight of hand artists from all over the world. In the universe there is only on Magic Castle. Enjoy your visit.
If you get a chance to visit this fantastical place (and I highly recommend it!), be sure to say "Hi" to Irma for me!