Tour the Crescenta Valley speakeasy that was a hotbed of illegal activity during prohibition

Historians say Verdugo Lodge was far enough away from Hollywood to function as a successful speakeasy.

ByOlivia Smith KABC logo
Monday, September 25, 2023
Tour the Crescenta Valley speakeasy that thrived during prohibition
Historians say Verdugo Lodge was far enough away from Hollywood, located in the hills of the Crescenta Valley, to function as a successful speakeasy during prohibition.

With Hidden History, ABC7 explores local history and hidden facts in our communities. The series highlights extraordinary details in neighborhoods you may otherwise overlook.

Verdugo Lodge, a speakeasy from 100 years ago, sat hidden in plain sight in the Crescenta Valley during prohibition.

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This Santa Monica beachside space was once a sprawling mansion for actress, producer and philanthropist Marion Davies and media tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

"Back in the '20s and '30s when prohibition was going on, La Crescenta was kind of a hotbed of moonshining and bootlegging, and that kind of thing, because we were close enough to Hollywood to attract all the stars and all the entertainment people, but we were far enough away where the law wasn't really interested in going this far out," said Mike Lawler of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley.

Lawler took ABC7 on a tour, showing the layout of the property, which is now known as Mountain Oaks. It includes an abandoned swimming pool and what was once a chauffeur station. Ruins from the lodge remain, nestled between trees and vines.

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According to Lawler, getting into the speakeasy worked "almost like a timeshare."

"What you did was you bought this little 10-foot-by-10-foot piece of land here, and that gave you entry into the lodge," Lawler said.

And there's much more to the history of the land, including a historic fight over oak trees and why the city now considers the land an illegal subdivision.

Watch the video above for the full report.

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