Coming to you from Culver City, overlooking Culver Studios and the Culver Hotel, I take some time to analyze some possibly paranormal photos! If you have some of your own to share, please send them over to me!
Tag Archives: cemetery
You’ve gotta love a mountain hike that leads to a mostly hidden cemetery! Glendale, CA’s “first family,” the Brands, started a pet cemetery that they themselves began laying themselves to rest in. The nearby family home, library and this cemetery all claim some level of paranormal activity. There are reports of occult activity at the cemetery, though that’s always a red flag for urban legends to me.
Oddly enough, the modern history of this area dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where Missouri realtor Leslie Brand and his wife visited and were immediately taken by the East India Pavilion.
Just a year later he purchased the small community of Glendale (click on the map image to the right to open the GoogleMap of the location) with hopes of further developing the community and also crafting his perfect, East India-inspired family home. The home, situated at the base of the Verdugo Mountains was named “The Lookout” in Indian, or Miradero. Interestingly, the land he purchased is still outlined and named “Miradero” on GoogleMaps.
The East Indian style home, nicknamed “The Castle,” built in 1904 quickly became the social hot spot of Glendale. When Leslie died in 1925, he donated much of the Miradero land to the city of Glendale, specifically to be used as a library and park. This library was finally opened some 31 years later and continues to operate to this day. The park, with baseball diamonds, is in heavy use.
Sadly, like all too many possibly haunted cemeteries, this one has a history of desecration. Single graves were unearthed on separate occasions with bones of the deceased being scattered about the grounds and skulls stolen. One of the skulls belonged to Miradero architect Nathaniel Dryden.
Parking in one of the main parking lots, walking up the paved Brand Park Drive, keeping Miradero on your right, gaining altitude as you reach the Verdugo Mountain range, you’ll eventually reach a T intersection. In front of you, you’ll find decaying stars to nowhere (pictured left). It’s eerily similar to the present date site of Altadena’s Cobb Estate.
Bear left at the t-intersection and you will soon find the fenced-off Brand Family cemetery, which contains several conventional graves as well as the remarkable pyramid-shaped grave of Leslie Brand.
The trails into the mountains behind the estate still boast scores of ruins from a bygone time. The photo below shows Brand Cemetery as seen from a nearby mountain ridge (note the pyramid in the lower right corner), along with
Below is another stairway to nowhere, deeper within the mountains. While there seems to be a large amount of infrastructure, including old, decaying roads, power line supports and building foundations, researching historical topographical maps to not show any buildings whatsoever. Perhaps these buildings were not built with any official permitting as Brand kept these grounds private, even hidden from civic meddling, as he was a powerful force in Glendale. Unfortunately, this makes dating and identifying buildings in this area quite difficult. Event the cemetery, which has to have started in the early 1920s or earlier doesn’t appear on these maps until 1967.
The most concrete paranormal activity takes place in the library itself where Leslie Brand understandably continues to spend time in his dream home. If that’s a conscious haunting or that of the residual variety remains to be seem as encounters seem to be too fleeting to gleam much information from.
Due to the terrible grave desecration that happened at the family cemetery, one would understand the place being under close surveillance as much as you would understand if there is some amount of unrest here. I do believe that paranormal investigation at this site is important as much as I feel that it’s important to do this investigation the “right way.” Respect the land, the rules and honor the family that helped build Glendale.
For continued, much more in-depth reading into the history of this site & the brand family themselves, check out a great KCET article here.
We were planning on resting and laying low today, recovering from our awesome weekend at the Chicago Ghost Conference….but around 2 o’clock we decided we couldn’t just sit around any more, so we decided to go on the hunt for some things we’d always wanted to see!
Turns out that one of Mickey Cohen‘s bodyguards is buried in Woodstock, Illinois! Johnny Stompanato, a strongman in the LA mafia and lover of Lana Turner, was from the small town. Stompanato was stabbed by Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, a crime that was later ruled as self defense. His body was taken back to Woodstock after his passing and he was interred at Oakland Cemetery.
The cemetery is old and beautiful, and also the final resting place of Dick Tracy creator, Chester Gould.
Unfortunately, Scott and I were not very successful in locating either of the graves (if you have directions to where they are let us know!)
We did however find lots of great old graves, and even saw some great wildlife.
They even have a small pet cemetery with a bunch of sweet send offs for fur babies!
It was a great place to spend an afternoon. It was very restful and there were plenty of other people and their living pets walking around too.
After the cemetery we headed into downtown Woodstock, which is super cute, and also where they filmed “Groundhog Day!”
After a walk around the town square and some much-needed hot coffee, we headed over to the Stickney House.
The Stickney House was one of the locations covered by Scott in his book, “Voices from the Chicago Grave.”
Built in 1856 and located in the Village of Bull Valley. George Stickney, his wife Sylvia, and their family were the original residents. The house was built without any 90 degree corners. The Skickney’s were spiritualists and believed ghosts could become trapped in such spaces. Of the 10 Stickney children only three survived into adulthood. The family held many séances in the house trying to contact the children that passed away. Some believe that perhaps it was Sylvia’s inabilities as a medium or cultists who moved into the house in the 1970s that have caused the home to become very haunted.
The house has gone through much renovations since we last saw the house. Thanks to the local historic society and the Stickney Foundation. The interior and exterior are both being restored to the houses original state, and I have to say, it looks fantastic! Note in the photos below the continued use of rounded edges – even the front door itself is curved.
From the Stickney House, we were directed to the small cemetery down the road where the family was buried. It was starting to get dark, but as we stumbled around by cell phone light, we eventually found the family. A few of the tombstones were missing, and some of the others were damaged, but overall they were in great shape considering their age.
There was an oddly large amount of traffic on the road, considering how far out of town we were. Still, we decided to do a small EVP session at Sylvia‘s grave.
In the last week, Scott Markus and I finally made the trek to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. This Gorgeous and massive 300 acre cemetery is the final resting place of many of the movers and shakers in Los Angeles history. The hilly grounds offering an incredible views of the city they helped build.
The cemetery was founded in 1906, and operated as a non-profit. The grounds hold three non-denominational chapels. Forrest Lawn was the first “Memorial Park” getting rid of the “unsightly” standing headstones (there are still a few). For a long time they refused black, Chinese, and Jewish internments, now all are welcome. Surprisingly, more than 60,000 people have been married on the cemetery grounds. Forrest Lawn is unique for many reasons, the cemetery holds an art museum, the largest mosaic depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and it the only place in the world with a complete set of reproduction Michelangelo statues, made from the same quarries as the originals.
It is also a place that has an insane amount of respect for the privacy of their departed tenants.
It is this amount of privacy that makes enjoying the grounds, and paying respects, very difficult. Forrest Lawn does not allow pictures of graves, or anywhere in their many mausoleums’ out of “respect of the property owners”. Many of the crypts and graves are roped off and concealed from those who wish to visit them.
Scott and I both felt this was a little over-dramatic.
The Great mausoleum had more security cameras than an airport, and out of all of the “greatness” only about 10% is open to the public.
The cemetery does provide maps of the grounds, which are sprawling and confusing. We definitely recommend picking one up in the front building. That being said, out of respect of privacy, none of the graves are marked on the map. So you have to do your research ahead of time on who you want to visit, because unless you are very lucky, no one will tell you.
On the lawns, knowing which section a person is buried in is not sufficient. As I said, the grounds are massive; some individual areas are as big as football fields. If you have a crypt number things get a bit easier, but the numbering can be confusing. Scott spent 20 minutes looking for Tom Mix’s grave, with the proper number. Tom Mix is a silent era western star with a connection to one of Scott’s favorite Chicagoland haunts, the Great Escape.
The confusing layouts and steep hills made me give up on seeing my hero. After seeing Scott’s luck with Mix, I gave up on hoping to find Oscar winning costume designer, Edith Head’s plot. As some of you know I also work as a costume designer and Edith is the designer I would like to aspire to be like. Unfortunately I will have to wait to see where she rests, since this time we only knew a lawn name but not a crypt number, we felt we had little chance of locating her.
Directional clues are a must for finding an interment location! Finding, It’s a Wonderful Life star, Jimmy Stuart’s grave was easier once we found the clue that the “statue of the man with the arrow” located him with ease!
Our experience in the Great mausoleum was a little better. Elizabeth Taylor does have a very impressive, very public, and very easy to find monument, a beautiful, tall, Etruscan style angel, right at the end of the hallway at the entrance to the great mausoleum.
The Different sections in the mausoleum are well labeled. However they are also roped off, so the closest you can get to the tragic couple of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard is peering down the hallway and knowing that they are somewhere in the wall just out of your sight. Many others share the same fate.
After only a few hours of this frustration, Scott and I left. As seasoned cemetery goers, we were both surprised by the off limit-ness and difficulty to navigate Forrest Lawn offered. We also found it hard to believe that people like Michael Jackson and Jean Harlow would want to be buried in a place that discouraged their admirers from seeing them. It felt to us that the original intention of a cemetery- to celebrate the lives of those interred there- was lost within the gates. Perhaps Forrest Lawn felt that in, death, they could provide the isolation and security, its patrons never had in life.
We do still recommend a visit to this cemetery. Not for the graves, but for the beautiful views of the city and amazing art collection. Some pieces which belonged to William Randolph Hearst. The collection includes an actual Easter Island head, over 1,000 pieces of stained glass, and many American historical artifacts. As well as quite a few replicas of things found in museums all around the world. Check the schedule to see what the traveling exhibit is!
We’re happy to bring you to the strange world of the Bunny Man in this latest video!
We are starting a new production schedule that will take you through all aspects of ghost stories and haunted histories! We will be posting two videos per month, with at least one of them being a California story and at least two blogs that are specifically centered around California and Los Angeles ghost stories!
Do you have any suggestions on stories you’d like us to cover? Please let us know!