November 8, 2015
I went on a tour of Rockhaven Sanitarium for women in Glendale yesterday. It was founded by Agnes Richards, a nurse, in 1923 at a time when there were as many as 20 sanitariums in the area. It was operated by Agnes Richards until 1967, when she turned it over to her granddaughter Patricia Traviss who continued to operate it until 2001, when it was sold to a nursing home chain. Five years later it was closed when it became obvious that meeting ADA standards would be financially impossible. The City of Glendale bought it in 2008. Since then the city has done little with the site, not having the money to renovate it nor the will to just get rid of it.
It was a place for women with mild to moderate "nervous disorders," and featured none of the tortures that one would normally see in an insane asylum of that time. It's two most famous residents were Billie Burke and Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker, the mother of Marilyn Monroe.
The docents told of some spooky happenings at the place. A face seen behind a curtain that was pulled back from a window on the second floor of a building that was empty; small objects (a rosary, a valentine card, for example) simply appearing where it had never been before. The contents of the site were well documented when the city bought it. Even though old photos of the place show a piano, no piano is listed in the city's inventory. One day, when the docents opened the garage where they have stored statuary and other vulnerable items, there was the piano. I could believe the small things were pranks played by one of the docents, but the appearance of the piano is quite a stretch. How many ghosts does it take to move a piano?
The closet window through which Marilyn Monroe's mother escaped using rope made from bed sheets. She had a much larger window in her room that would have been much easier to go through. The drop from the closet window to the ground below was about 6 feet. IOW, she was a drama queen.
The Rose house existed on the site before Richards created the sanitarium. She had it lifted and turned to face into the inner courtyard of the sanitarium.
An easy Googling of the name turns up the Friends of Rockhaven Sanitarium and the Wikipedia page. The Friends are still leading tours there, and Wikipedia says it's on the California Register of Historical Resources now, and they are going for the National Register.
Posted by: Ron at Feb 13, 2018 4:08:45 PM
Has it been torn down? Can one sneak in? I read it was going torn down for a mini-mall
Posted by: JOHN STAHL at Feb 13, 2018 3:33:14 PM
Posted by: Earl at Nov 9, 2015 5:51:25 PM