Glendora, California: Rubel Pharm and Castle

An elaborate folk art construction, the brainchild of Michael Rubel. Opened to group tours by appointment.
Address:
North Live Oak Ave., Glendora, CA
Hours:
By appointment. Open group tours 2nd Tu, 3rd F each month. (Call to verify)
Phone:
626-963-0419
Admission:
$5 donation
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Rubel Pharm and Castle. Rubel Pharm and Castle

The interesting story of Rubel Castle: Michael Rubel was born in Glendora. Michael's Mom was an ex-Greenwich Village Follies dancer, and though the family was of average means he grew up surrounded by her elaborate parties and extremely famous Hollywood party guests such as Bob Hope, Alfred Hitchcock and Dwight Eisenhower.

From an early age the only thing that really drove him was constructing elaborate forts, some several stories high. Michael was not interested in having a regular career and his future seemed questionable.

Thankfully, Michael's charisma was powerful enough that he convinced a rich benefactor to gift him 2 1/2 acres of land. He also had hundreds of friends who were willing to donate their time and their resources to helping him build the ultimate fort: a castle.

The building of Rubel Castle started in 1968 and continued for 18 years. It was really a town-wide project, with friends and volunteers lured by a party-like atmosphere of food and drink, but also by their love for Michael and helping him fulfill his crazy dreams.

Michael passed away in 2007 and is described as having lived a happy life. His legacy -- an elaborate castle made of stones gathered locally and objects found at the Glendora dump -- had towers , a drawbridge, a functioning blacksmith studio and a fake cemetery in which there are dozens of tombstones, but no actual graves.

The fake cemetery was an interesting addition because with every new headstone added it gave Michael the excuse to throw a lively bash for his friends under the guise of a wake.

Describing Rubel's creation it is nearly impossible to interweave enough magic into the story to fully elaborate how special and wondrous and truly dreamlike this place turned out to be. My advice is to visit and take part in the extremely interesting 2-hour docent-led tour. Rubel Castle is now run by the Glendora Historical Society, which comprises many members who had known Michael directly and share the same love and pride for the castle that Michael had himself.

They have open group tours the 2nd Tuesday and 3rd Friday of the month, but reservations must be made in advance. There is a small tour donation which goes towards upkeep of the castle.

[Nikki Kreuzer, 02/14/2013]
The castle. Rubel Pharm and Castle

The working man's castle, more historical oddity than tourist trap. Worth the time.

[Ed Eldridge, 08/19/2012]
Rubel Pharm and Castle Rubel Pharm and Castle

This crazy castle was built by a guy named Michael Rubel starting in the late '60s - it's a work of folk art gone wild, ala Watts Towers, but on an even bigger scale. He died in 2007, and since then the castle has been taken over by the Glendora Historical Society.

It seems that you can only get in and see the place if you contact them first to organize a tour. They seem to cater to groups, preferably from a recognized organization. So, my idea: roadside America junkies band together to get in! ... I want ... to see it ... so badly...

[Emily Van Patten, 01/07/2009]

Aug 2012: Photo added.

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