Former Nazi Hideout In Pacific Palisades Getting Torn Down
Several buildings from a compound in the Pacific Palisades once run by Nazi sympathizers will likely see their final days very soon.Many of the dilapidated buildings of Murphy Ranch, which sits in the hills of Rustic Canyon just north of Will Rogers State Historic Park, will finally be torn down by the city on February 23. After a big fire ripped through the compound in 1978, the ruins of Murphy Ranch have since become a popular location for taggers and urban explorers. As fun as it might be for the rest of us, it seems like it became a hassle for officials who were tired of dealing with the trash and rescuing people from the decades-old structures. "This location has finally became such an annoyance for the city that they have finally decided to tear it down," a park ranger told LAHIKES. "And looks like they are finally going through with it, despite many past threats to demolish." A water tank and garage structure have already been demolished.
A representative for Councilman Mike Bonin, whose district includes Murphy Ranch, told Curbed that only the most unsafe buildings will be coming down, and the ones that will be spared will get additions like metal plates on windows to keep out trespassers. The city is serious about cracking down on trespassing, too. When LAHIKES visited the site, they encountered four teenagers who were ticketed by a ranger.
The history of the 55-acre site goes back to 1933, when it was purchased by Winona and Norman Stephens and a German known as Herr Schmidt. Schmidt, a Nazi sympathizer, was able to convince the Stephens that the Nazis would eventually take over the United States and they embarked on building a safe-haven that would be self-sustaining. By the time the Nazis would have made it to Los Angeles, the residents of Murphy Ranch would be ready for the Third Reich.
However, those dreams of an American Reich came to an end when authorities raided the compound the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, on December 8, 1941. Schmidt was taken into custody and the Stephens sold the property after the war. It became an artists' colony in the 60s and 70s before the fire wiped everything out in 1978, leaving it in its abandoned state today.
Click here for information on how to hike to the site of Murphy Ranch—and remember, trespass at your own risk!