Shea's Castle

Due south of the Poppy Reserve, tucked in the rolling hills below the line of the California Aqueduct, is a stone castle on private property. (Please do not visit it; it is not open to the public, and trespassers are prosecuted.)

Since it was built in 1925, the castle has seen many owners - and many dreams of a desert oasis that never came true.

The castle was built by Robert Shea, a Beverly Hills real estate baron. His wife had a respiratory illness, and the common treatment at the time was to move to the desert for the dry air. Tragically, he lost all his money in the depression and then his wife died soon thereafter, so he walked off the Venice Pier with her ashes in a bag around his neck. 

A following owner, Tommy Lee, was the rich, reckless playboy heir of the Don Lee Broadcasting Network empire. After throwing wild celebrity parties at the castle and developing a drug addiction, he was institutionalized... and jumped out of a window on Wilshire Boulevard, to his death. 

The property was also briefly owned by a vintage airplane club, and it was leased to ranchers who trained Roy Roger’s horse Trigger. For the last 60 years, it has been privately owned by various developers whose plans have also blown away in the desert winds. 

From the property's gates, the castle is tucked in a swale and hardly visible. Looking through binoculars from the Poppy Reserve provides a better view of the castle.

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