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A look at The Magic Castle’s estranged older sibling


You’ve no doubt heard us talk of the famed Magic Castle here on Genii Online. The private club has played host to a veritable who’s who of magical talent over the last half a century and is pretty much the center of the North American magical community. You already know this. What you might not know is that some 80 miles east of Hollywood, in the small town of Redlands, there’s a house that looks eerily similar to the Castle.

The mansion was built in 1987 by rich widow, Cornelia Hill, who sold the house to a John Alfred Kimberly shortly after its completion. It was under the Kimberly’s care when it became Kimberly Crest and inspired the building that would become the magic castle.

Soon after the Kimberlys settled in Redlands, they became acquainted with Rollin Lane, another Wisconsin native who was an officer at the local bank. In addition to knowing each other through business (Lane was likely involved in the deal in which the Kimberlys bought the house), the Lanes knew the Kimberlys socially; an article from the time talked about Rollin and his wife Katherine winning a card tournament at a party held in the Kimberlys honor.

According to the architectural historian George Siegel, Lane liked Kimberly Crest so much that he used its blueprints when he built his own house in Los Angeles. The Lane Residence, which was commonly called the Holly Chateau, was completed in 1909 on a small notch of land carved out of a larger tract that encompassed the hill that rises abruptly behind the house. Given its smaller lot size, the building did not have gardens on the same scale as Kimberly Crest and was surrounded by commercial lots and residential plots for more modest homes.

At first, the only major difference between the two structures was that, for unknown reasons, the large tower and the turret on the south side of the buildings were swapped.

And that’s just the beginning of the piece. It goes into fascinating detail about the two structures that were nigh identical at birth, but went down profoundly divergent paths. The older sibling was eventually left to the people of Redlands, and is managed by the Kimberly-Shirk Association. It’s open for tours and events. The younger, well it became The Magic Castle.