Obscura Day 2015: Retreat to Rockhaven Sanitarium - Atlas Obscura

Montrose, California

Obscura Day 2015: Retreat to Rockhaven Sanitarium

Where the feeble-minded sought dignified treatment in a peaceful valley

Scores of sanitariums once operated in the Crescenta Valley and then disappeared – except Rockhaven.

On OBSCURA DAY Saturday, May 30, join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein as the Los Angeles Obscura Society explores the Spanish Colonial buildings and cottages of the former Rockhaven Sanitarium, founded in 1923 by a nurse who wanted to improve treatment conditions for sufferers of nervous disorders and mental illness. 

It all started with a little rock house (hence, rock haven), but as its peaceful conditions and gorgeous scenery attracted more and more patients, the facility expanded to over three acres, taking over several neighboring homes to house their growing population. Now vacant since officially shutting down in 2006 (the last of its kind in operation), many traces of the old garden sanctuary remain.

On our docent-led tour, we'll walk down the winding paths, once lushly landscaped to draw Rockhaven's residents outside to the gardens and communal areas. We'll enter vintage hospital wards and even some of the living quarters, which have stayed frozen in time for the last 10 years since its closure. We'll even get to see the window that Marilyn Monroe's mother famously used to escape the sanitarium – more than once.

Unfortunately, as LA grew in the first half of the 20th Century, more and more healthy people were also drawn to the tranquility of the Crescenta Valley – but by moving there, they disrupted it. Now, Rockhaven Sanitarium is one of the only places in the area where you can find that kind of serenity.

Spend all day with us – check out other Obscura Day events happening in LA here!

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 Notes for this adventure:

- Exact address of our meeting point will be emailed to confirmed attendees before the event date.

- A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Friends of Rockhaven, a non-profit whose volunteers maintain the grounds and buildings, and advocate for the preservation and revitalization of the property.

- Photography encouraged! Bring your cameras and juice up your smartphones.

- Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for two hours of standing and walking on uneven surfaces, some mild stair-climbing.

- This is a historic property, so please treat it with care.

- Tour incorporates both indoor and outdoor areas, so please wear sun protection and layers for fluctuating temperatures.

- No working restroom facilities onsite – go before you go!

- Free street parking, but please be respectful of the residential neighborhood.

- A signed and dated liability waiver is required and will be emailed in advance to all attendees.

Advance Ticket Sales Only. All Sales Final.