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Elisa Jordan, author of Rockhaven Sanitarium: The Legacy of Agnes Richards

  • Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse 1010 Foothill Boulevard La Cañada Flintridge, CA, 91011 United States (map)

from pioneering retreat to historical landmark


Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse welcomes Elisa Jordan, author of Rockhaven Sanitarium: The Legacy of Agnes Richards (The History Press, Arcardia Publishing).  The popular online magazine Atlas Obscura has included this mental health facility in its coverage of unusual and obscure travel destinations around the world. Rockhaven was founded in 1923 by psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards to treat women patients and was in operation for 80 years. Join history writer Elisa Jordan as she explores the asylum’s illustrious past and its uncertain future.

For decades, the mild climate of the Crescenta Valley served as a haven for those seeking mental health rest and relief from lung ailments. In 1923, registered nurse Agnes Richards decided it was the perfect place to open a sanitarium, one that would set itself apart from the rest. Rockhaven Sanitarium catered to female residents only and, with few exceptions, exclusively employed women. It was a progressive treatment center that prided itself on treating residents with dignity and respect. The center's high ideals and proximity to early Hollywood attracted residents like Billie Burke; Marilyn Monroe's mother, Gladys; and Clark Gable's first wife, Josephine Dillon.

ELISA JORDAN is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in history, architecture and pets. When not writing, she is working to promote tourism in Southern California and giving tours in Los Angeles. She is the founder of L.A. Woman Tours and considered an authority on several aspects of Los Angeles history, including Marilyn Monroe, the Doors and the Hollywood music scene. Elisa is a native Californian whose family dates back to about 1915 in the state.