Local

Pacific Palisades 'Nazi compound' is trimmed, not torn down

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The "Power House" at Murphy Ranch in Topanga State Park, as seen on Oct. 13, 2012.
Roy Randall/Flickr Creative Commons
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The historic gates at Murphy Ranch, thought to be a Nazi sympathizer compound in the 1930s and '40s.
J Jakobson/Flickr Creative Commons
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A metal archway at Murphy Ranch in the Pacific Palisades, taken July 28, 2013.
mcflygoes88mph/Flickr Creative Commons
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Murphy Ranch in the Pacific Palisades.
Elina Shatkin/KPCC
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Murphy Ranch in the Pacific Palisades.
Elina Shatkin/KPCC
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The back side of the fenced-off stables at Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon, taken April 22, 2012.
kode_name/Flickr Creative Commons
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Murphy Ranch in the Pacific Palisades.
Elina Shatkin/KPCC


Reports that surfaced that Pacific Palisades' Murphy Ranch was set to be torn down were not quite true. One steel structure and a water tank were torn down, but the rest of it is set to remain, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin's Office.

The graffiti-covered ruins, which sit at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, are thought to have been a Nazi-sympathizer compound in the 1930s and '40s. 

One of the two structures that were demolished was a concrete water tank, which people "frequently went down into to tag — or do other sorts of things — and the Fire Department would often get called to fish the people out, because it turns out getting out of a large 30-foot concrete water tank isn't as easy as getting into it," Bonin spokesman David Graham-Caso told KPCC.

Authorities had previously tried fencing it off, but bolts and locks had been cut, Graham-Caso said, leading to the parks general manager deciding to close the area and demolish both the water tank and a large steel structure.

The large steel structure "had been shifting, because people were climbing on it, and it was just a huge liability issue, a huge safety issue, and so he decided to destroy them," Graham-Caso said.

Bonin's office heard from people on both sides of the issue when it comes to changes to the ranch, Graham-Caso said, with some who had thought the entire site was being demolished asking for it not to be, while local neighbors and hikers expressed appreciation that the area would be safer.

"Most of the people, when they heard what actually happened, as opposed to what was reported — erroneously in some cases — have been supportive," Graham-Caso said.

Officials did take efforts to preserve some historic parts, Graham-Caso said, including the gates leading up to the area.

In addition to tearing down the two structures, crews worked to secure several other buildings.

"There's a utility building where they just sealed off the windows and doors, and there was a skylight they had to seal off as well," Graham-Caso said.

The site allegedly could have housed up to 40 local Nazis between about 1933 and 1945, according to the Los Angeles Times.