Visiting Rubel Castle
In my explorations I’ve come across many unique and interesting places. There are some that I enjoy but don’t need to see again. There are others that I fall in love with and return to over and over. And then there are a select few that I’m so smitten with that they instantly become one of my favorite places. Recently, I visited Rubel Castle and now I feel, without a a doubt, that it’s one of the best places to visit in all of California.
Rubel Castle is so wonderful and unique that it’s almost impossible to describe. In fact, when I made my tour reservation I wasn’t sure of exactly what I was going to see. I can’t remember the first time I heard about the castle but it had been on my radar for some time. It’s open for tours on specific days and reservations must be made in advance. Far in advance as they do sell out. I booked mine 2 months out and in the ensuing time tried to figure out exactly what it was. Initially, I thought it was ruins but it’s definitely not that. Far from it.
Michael Clarke Rubel was a long time resident of Glendora and a bit of an eccentric. He was the son of a radio comedy writer and a former Ziegfeld Girl who knew several of the Hollywood elite. When he was 18 he purchased the castle’s property from his neighbor, a citrus grower. It was formerly the home of the ranch’s packing plant (which still stands) and over the years Michael transformed it into his personal paradise.
A man who could find a use for pretty much anything he would accept any items that came his way. Sometimes this would just be bottles and typewriters.
And other times it would be a windmill and train caboose.
Initially he and his mother lived in the former packing house transforming the coolers into their bedrooms.
In the main room his mother would throw lavish parties inviting the likes of Sally Rand, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and other Hollywood celebrities.
The packing house was my favorite part of the tour as it was chock full of treasures. I could spend hours and hours in the space and never see everything.
Michael wasn’t such a fan of the parties so he built himself a bottle house to sleep in far from the noise of the revelers.
The bottle house was located in an old cement reservoir which Michael dreamed of turning into a castle. With the help of friends and volunteers he spent the next few decades building it by hand.
Today it’s a fully finished honest to goodness castle housing everything from a forge, to a printing press to apartments.
On our tour we visited nearly every inch of the castle save for the apartments which are currently occupied.
Michael passed away in 2007 and the property was given to the Glendora Historical Society. Our tour was led by a volunteer who knew the property backwards and forwards. He told us so many fascinating stories about Michael and the castle that it made the time fly by. We toured the grounds for about 3 hours and it seemed to be hardly enough time to see everything. Rubel Castle is truly one of the most wonderful places in all of California and I’m so happy I was able to see it. It’s a true treasure that everyone should visit.