Now lovingly called The Krotona Apartments (vacancy!)
2130 Vista Del Mar
The Krotona Inn was built in the fall of 1912 by architects Mead and Requa to serve as a physical home and spiritual locus for the many students of Theosophy flocking to the canyon. It was THE hub of the community, but in true Los Angeles fashion it has been subdivided into apartment complexes and leased out for exorbitant amounts of money.
So there I was with an illegally parked VW and camera in hand, trying to clandestinely finesse my way into the courtyard of the former Krotona Inn, when a jogging stranger emerged from the building and ran towards me with wild eyes and wild abandon.
Anyhow, the jogger approached and the first words out of his mouth were "Whattareya doin' with that camera?" Before I could recite my little diatribe, he blurted "You must be here to rent the apartment."
"Why yes, yes I am," I calmly responded. It's best to answer 'yes' in these situations, especially if said 'yes' can culminate in a tour of the residence you are trying to break into.
"I thought so!" he replied, "you're going to love it here, I can tell already! The only caveat is that the apartment is in a converted temple and is a little unorthodox." Score!
Absolutely punch drunk off the possibility of gaining entrance to the Grand Temple of the Rosy Cross and the Esoteric Room where members would meet for meditation left me totally giddy. I was simply beside myself with good fortune.
The jogger led me up a series of bouganvilla-ensnared steps that led back in time to bohemian Los Angeles of the 1910's. Stone lions with mossy patinas, crumbling white bungalows adorned with prayer flags and folk art, brazenly beautiful grey haired ladies doing yoga in billowy white garments, an eccentric old film director casting screaming women for his new B movie, ladies painting landscapes together on a deck whose views stretched from the Hollywood sign all the way to downtown LA...I kid you not, these were the vignettes I saw as my host took me up the walkway to my possible new 'home.' These structures were originally built as dining halls, vegetarian kitchens, libraries, meditation rooms, and have now been awkwardly (and beautifully) finessed into private residences. There was a palpable energy, and this place is a verifiable halcyon hamlet where peace and paradise still abound.
We reached the top of the Inn, and there, shrouded behind a gaggle of Krotona cats, was the Esoteric Room, its dome rounding out the sweeping vistas of Jacaranda, Carob and Magnolia trees in bloom throughout the canyon. Hubba hubba!
The jogger, who is possibly the kindest man I have ever met, is thrilled that I am looking at his apartment because I am exactly what they had imagined in a new tenant (!). He and I swap banter about the golden days of the compound, and he is thrilled to find a kindred spirit to swoon with over onion domes, keyhole windows, Rosicrucian carvings and mystical vibrations. Many of the sacred spaces of the colony point east in honor of Krishnamurti, an Indian mystic brought to the US by Anne Besant whom the Theosophists believed was the incarnation of the great soul Alcyone and a vehicle for his profound teachings.
He shows me the main house on the property, which I believe was originally used as a vegetarian dining hall and residence for Annie Sullivan Knudsen, wealthy heiress to a Hawaiian sugar cane fortune. Beneathe the home is a mediation garden with the requisite lotus pond. It is, simply stated, breathtaking. My pictures do it no justice.
By this time my reason is all asunder, and I am beginning to believe that I'm destined to live in this ramshackle ghost colony. The jogger sure as hell thinks so, which doesn't help my sanity. I've drunk the proverbial Kool Aid, and in my head I am taking stock of whose truck I am going to borrow to move my stuff, what tree my hammock will be hung on, and where I will enjoy my morning cantaloupe and oolong tea. Then the final nail goes in the coffin as he leads me to my new front door:
Perhaps I have been sold, like Krotona's earliest colonists, by the promise of "the modern Athens," where buyers would "suffer neither fog nor dust nor frost." Despite the sheer impossibility of relocation, I'm caught up in the rapture of living in my utopian hamlet, with ever-shining sun and healthful living in these lush, citrus-laden 'Mediterranean' hills. Drunk on the California dream, I tell the jogger I'll take it, we hug (?!?), and he proceeds to take this picture of me in front of my new home.
Who wouldn't want to live here?*
*Note: I totally bailed on the dude once I was out of the jasmine-scented grip of the halcyon Krotona hallucination