Hitler's House in the Pacific Palisades: A Photographic Tour

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Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge The gates to the Murphy Ranch -- reportedly an estate intended for Adolf Hitler - STEPHANIE LOO
  • Stephanie Loo
  • The gates to the Murphy Ranch -- reportedly an estate intended for Adolf Hitler
The twisted metal gates just off Sullivan Ridge Fire Road in Rustic Canyon near Will Rogers State Park seem innocent enough to the casual dog walker or passing jogger, but for those in the know, the former Murphy Ranch offers a sinister look at Los Angeles history. The decrepit 50-acre estate tells the story of the Nazi Party's attempt to lengthen Adolf Hitler's reach into the United States by creating a fascist paradise near Malibu.

The sprawling estate was reportedly meant to be a self-contained wonderland for Hitler and his followers. The acreage had originally been purchased in 1933 by a Jesse M. Murphy, a member of a prominent Pasadena family that made a small fortune in the thumbtack business.

By 1938, the land was under the control of Murphy's daughter Winona and her husband Norman Stephens. At some point, newspapers later reported, the Stephens fell under the influence of a mysterious "Herr Schmidt," who persuaded the couple to invest in constructing a West Coast outpost for Herr Hitler and his American followers.

But Hitler was to never step foot in his hilltop Eden. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the interception of a few secret communications, feds raided the complex and hauled away the mysterious Schmidt, according to the book L.A. Exposed. The Stephens were brought in for questioning, but were released, left to return to their unfinished $4 million investment.

What remained of the effort was a self-contained compound complete with power plant, water treatment center, stables and an organic environment alien to the area. Hikers familiar with flora and fauna will notice this right away -- many trees on the grounds are not native to area such as pine and fir trees.

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