castle made of ... junk?
Students marvel at eclectic landmark
By Marianne Love, Staff Writer
GLENDORA - Students from an elementary school took the first public tour
on Monday of Rubel Pharm and Castle, an eclectic mix of rock buildings, discarded
items and a renovated citrus packing house.
Third-graders from Cullen Elementary School trekked through the 1.7-acre
property previously owned by Michael Rubel. He orchestrated the work of thousands
of friends and volunteers over 26 years to build his dream compound at North
Live Oak Avenue and Palm Drive. It's located behind a 20-foot-high, cinder-block
wall and a massive wood and steel gate.
Rubel's crew took parts of bicycles, tires, shovels and the like and cemented
them in between the river rock that makes up many of the compound's walls.
"They had all this junk so they said `Let's stick it here because it
looks funny,"' tour guide Richard Macy told the students.
Other features of the
castle include a Santa Fe Railroad caboose, a 70-foot-tall clock tower
- which rings every
half hour - encased in rocks, automobiles
dating to the 1920s, a blacksmith area, a printing press room, three underground
"It's freaky," said
Robert Cortez, 8.
Rubel, 66, was not available for comment. He bought the secluded property
when he was 18.
He is described by friends as
eccentric, so he put out the word that he'd take whatever "junk" people
wanted to unload.
"It's weird," said
Andy Williams, 8. "All the stuff is coming out of
the walls like that toaster."
His treasures began to build with glass jars and bottles, tools and many
antique items such as a hand-wound Seth Thomas clock with working chimes
that have been deemed priceless.
Rubel's compound is also known as Rubel Farms, Rubelia, or The Tin Palace.
The Bottle House was one of the first of the farm's structures and the highlight
of the field trip for Allison Griffitts.
"It was cool. The bottles were all glowing," Griffitts,
Michael Rubel turned over the
place to the Glendora Historical Society after he took ill.
For information about tours, see below, then contact the Historical
Rubel Castle Tours
Tours are granted
to 12-30 people from organized schools or organizations with a suggested
tax deductible donation of $5 per person. No donations are asked of school or scouting
If you want to consult about available tour dates before sending in the Tour Request Form, please call 626-963-0419 or send Annette Anderson a note .
Larger tours can be scheduled, but require an additional docent, so an
appointment is not guaranteed.
Request Form Download (opens as a pdf) (more forms, such as liabillity release forms, can be found here)
It would be helpful if
requests for all tours be made at least three weeks in advance.
Individuals or small family groups not affiliated with insured groups
may ask for
tours but it is at our discretion if and when we can add some and bunch
together and then each would need to fill out a "waiver of liability" form
prior to admission.
We would appreciate it
if no children below the age of six come onto the property.
The property is not wheel chair accessible. Strollers and walkers
and high heel shoes are also advised against.
Clarke Rubel passed away October 15, 2007.
Huell Howser's Rubel Castle Videolog Episode from 1990. (10 minutes)