Rockhaven Town Hall

Presented by Friends of Rockhaven & Which Witch
Thursday, October 20th 7:00-9:00pm

Rockhaven Sanitarium, established in La Crescenta in 1923 by nurse Agnes Richards, was revolutionary among other psychiatric facilities of its time. Not only was it unusual for a woman to found her own facility, Richards upheld a uniquely feminist mission throughout her operation of Rockhaven, which sought to provide dignified mental health care for women rather than the abuse and isolation that was the norm. Starting with a single stone house on Honolulu Avenue, Richards went on to purchase several adjacent Craftsman‐style bungalows that provided the facility with its “home‐like” quality. Ultimately acquiring 3.3 acres, Richards recognized the therapeutic value of a tranquil environment and fresh air. She created patios and arcades, beautifully maintained gardens, and nursing wings plastered with decorative floral wallpaper. As a non-sectarian facility, Rockhaven was also “open to all irrespective of race, creed, or color.”

In 2008, after 80 years of successful operation, the city of Glendale purchased Rockhaven for $8.25 million with vague plans to preserve the site and its buildings. However, due to Glendale’s ensuing financial constraints, Rockhaven has sat in disrepair for the last 10 years. Over the past year the City has been accepting proposals from private developers who seek to purchase Rockhaven.

In a city like Los Angeles, where the past is routinely paved over for a glitzier, more marketable future, how should we think about valuable sites in our cultural landscape? In what ways can we provide ethical stewardship of our historic architectures, and through them, preserve a cultural legacy bound intimately to a specific time and place? We invite the WCCW community to participate in a collective brainstorm regarding Rockhaven’s past and future.

The Friends of Rockhaven is an advocacy group spearheaded by Joanna Linkchorst

Which Witch L.A. is a fem-focused publishing platform based in Los Angeles. Founded by Adriana Widdoes and Emma Kemp, WWLA is interested in community building around printed matter, with an inclination towards image-text practices, creative nonfiction, collaborative works, provocative gestures, and curated events. Recent projects have included the Which Witch Writers-in-Residence program at the historic Saugus Cafe; a deviled egg extravaganza at Thank You For Coming, and as an extension of our sustained relationship with the WCCW and the Friends of Rockhaven: “HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY?” at the LAABF 16.