The birth of the castle as we see it today began in 1961, by Milton Larsen, a writer from the NBC-TV Truth Or Consequences, Milt met with the then owner of the former mansion, Thomas O. Glover, to talk over arrangements. Milton's late father a recognized magician, William W. Larsen Jr., always wanted to build a club strictly for magicians. So the task was before them to turn a rundown apartment building into its former glorious state. About a year and a half later January of 1963 the doors opened. Today 4 decades after those doors opened, The Academy of Magical Arts calls it home.
The rooms in the castle are as follows:
The Palace of Mystery, the largest theatre in the castle showcasing stage magic and grand illusion. The Houdini Seance Room, this is held for a selected few of 10-12 persons at a time, where Harry Houdini was known to appear to a chosen few. Here a party of 10-12 can enjoy a 5 course dinner as well as the seance. The castle has five dining rooms. The library, one of the most extensive collections of magic and illusion gathered from the five corners of the earth (how's that possible?) A bar named for W. C. Fields, who began his career as a juggler magician. Albert Pillar Theatre, the academy of magical arts classroom, where as a beginner, intermediate or advanced magician can hone his craft. Close-up gallery, where magicians provide close-up magic to the chosen few. The Grand Salon, the grand staircase, where you will find a life-sized painting of one of the founders, Milton Larson. Invisible Irma's Room, a piano room, with the ghost of Irma playing the piano upon your request. The museum, a stage-sized magic and illusion room. Another pub, called the Hat in the Hare. These are the rooms that fill the refurbished mansion. Hope you enjoyed your tour. Let's move on to some more history.
To enter the portals of this castle you must be a member, with a membership card, follow all rules and regulations, and they are strictly enforced. There are dress codes which also must be followed. To make arrangemnets for resevations to dine here you again must be a member and show your card and make those reservations one week in advance. Have a good appetite to dine here, to enter the restaurant cost $20 M-TH-$25 on Fri-Sat per person Sat and Sun Brunch is $15. This is relaxed attire no coat or tie required, but no shorts or sandles either, and those under 21 are welcome. The castle hosts 5 shows in three theaters. Be sure to plan time to explore the art and architecture. Ghosts may arrive as early as 5PM and the castle closes at 1pm. Wanna stay over night at the castle they will make arrangements for you, but be aware of the Piano playing ghost at midnight.
Most of us like a little libation before and during the show, the Hat and The Hare provides that, found in the dungeon of the castle, but if you fear the dungeon there are other watering holes through out the castle, as described above.
The Academy of Magical Arts is the water mark of all Magic around the world. There are a few types of membership to the academy, A Membership, which helps to enhance the knowledge of the world of magic, Junior Membership, given to the younger magician 13-21, they have meetings once a month and have access to the castle where they learn from classes and lectures from some of the most prominate names in the world of magic they perform at the annual Future Stars of Magic, to be a member you must audition. Another membership is the Honorary Lifetime for World famous Magicians who have contributed to the advancement of the academy. Then there is the Associate Membership for those amatuers or friends of magicians who just like the atmosphere of the castle or what magic stands for. Who must be approved by the board. Then there are the Magicians Membership for active magicians, still practicing their craft, as a career or hobbyist, have auditioned before the membership reviewing board. Currently there are over 2500 members living in 25 countries who fit into this category, remember this catagory also includes historians, producers, directors, writers and inventors...
A little more history of the founders, William Larsen was a prominent attorney who was the co- founder of Sphinx magazine and the Ginii which became the most respected in the world. His love for magic was so strong that he gave up his Law practice to take his family on the road as the 'Larsen Family of Magicians'. During WW2 Bill Sr bought the Thayer Magic Co. and opened the Thayer Studio of Magic. In 1951 he formed the Academy of Magic Arts and Sciences. If you had a subscription to the magazine you had instant membership to the academy. For the next few years the academy bestowed fellowhip and recognition to magicians around the world. Bill passed away in 1955 taking with him the academy. Mrs Larsen carried on the Ginii magazine. To carry on from after the building of the castle , Milt was building a clubhouse for magicians...The rebuilding of the academy was in forward motion and put into lifetime presidency was William Jr. All the subscribers of the Ginii were made members automatically. Today that membership is 5000+ strong worldwide. I hope you enjoyed this tour as well as I did and If you are in California make it a point to visit the castle. I am sure you will be glad you did..........