The Magic Castle Swap Meet
October 10, 2009

Another Magic Castle Swap Meet! We’ve been vendors at quite a few now, and I’ve hinted about what they actually boil down to (magicians meet & swap before the doors open to the public!)… But, what IS the Magic Castle, exactly?

“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.”

Okay, but where did the mysteriously elegant Magic Castle come from?

Ah, now there’s an interesting story. Around the turn of the century (no, I mean 1900, not 9 years ago) Rollin B. Lane owned a lot of land which is now known as Hollywood. A real estate tycoon and banker, his dream was to turn this land into farms, ranches and orange groves. As you well know, the “Walk of Fame” took quite a different route, but back in the day the poor orange trees failed due to a severe drought. Cuz you know, it never rains in Southern California

But what of the flourishing Magic Castle? Ah, well, the original chateau style mansion was Mr. Lane’s private home, built in 1909. The Lane family moved away in the 1940s and the castle was unfortunately subdivided into a multi-family home, then transformed into an elderly folks home, and before it was saved, it was further divided into a small apartments. I shutter at the very thought!

But thank the stars, in the early 1960’s Milt Larsen’s Hollywood office building overlooked the Lane mansion, catching his creative eye, so he met the owner Thomas O. Glover. Milt had dreamed of building an exclusive private club for magicians in honor of his late father, William W. Larsen, Sr., who had been a magician, author, inventor, and the founder and editor of Genii magazine with his wife Gerrie. Magazine subscribers were granted a membership to the Academy of Magic Arts and Sciences, an organization dedicated to the advancement of the art of ancient magic, bringing recognition to magicians worldwide.

But the Lane mansion was far from being the eclectic, Victorian style Magic Castle of today. In September of 1961, the mansion had been reduced to a run down apartment building, and Milt, his brother Bill, who had become the publisher of Genii magazine, and partner Don Gotschall had a massive amount of hard work in front of them to make the dream come true. But, their grandfather had been a master carpenter and taught Milt the art of fine woodworking. With the help of many volunteers and donations, the beautiful mansion was eventually restored to its former elegance. Milt and Bill also resurrected the Academy of Magical Arts by creating a new non-profit organization, The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Magic Castle opened its doors to magicians at 5 pm on January 2, 1963 beginning its global promotion of the international world of magic. More than forty five years later the Castle has become the world famous “home” to magicians, the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. and their invited guests with a membership of nearly 5,000. It has become know globally as “The Mecca for Magicians”.

I am not a magician… it’s much more fun to believe in magic and watch Bill and others perform. The Castle is a magical place, having the fun house effect of being larger on the inside than the outside! Actually, it has become like a second home to us. Bill and I became husband and wife at the Castle, married (by a magician!) almost 2 years ago, on Halloween 2007. Passing through the dark, ornate hallways and heavy, red velvet curtains in the performance rooms, you can feel the ancient art of magic and the presence of magicians past. We look forward to many more years of performances and of course, swap meets!

Until our next magic adventure…!

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