Self-Realization Center and Meditation Gardens
17190 Sunset Blvd.
The property comprises10 acres and contains Santa Inez Lake as well as extensive gardens, various monuments and memorials, museum and gift shop, windmill, a Japanese Junk, houseboat and three story temple. An excellent and rare example of religious institutional development in Pacific Palisades; and an excellent and unique example of a designed landscape.
This site was originally part of the Thomas Inceville Film Studio, which opened in 1912. Production ceased in 1922 and most of the movie sets burned in a fire in 1924. The land became a sand and gravel quarry before being purchased by local developer Alphonzo Bell, who hydraulically graded the property for future development. However, the construction work activated several underground springs, which caused the quarry to fill with water, forming what is now known as Lake Santa Inez, the only natural spring-fed lake in Los Angeles. The property sat vacant for more than a decade before being purchased in 1941 by Mr. and Mrs. H. Everett McElroy. McElroy was a set designer and assistant superintendent of construction of 20th Century Studios. The McElroys cleared the land and lake and terraced and landscaped the property. Using mostly found construction materials, they built a greenhouse, swinging bridge, mill house, and reproduction windmill. They also transported their Mississippi-style houseboat from Lake Mead and installed it on the lake. The McElroy’s sold the property in the late 1940s, and it eventually passed to the Self-Realization Fellowship. The Fellowship constructed the Golden Lotus Archway, and officially dedicated the site on August 20, 1950, 1,500 people attended. In honor of the opening, Parmahansa Yogananda dedicated the Gandi World Peace Memorial – the first monument in the world to be erected in honor of Mahatma Gandhi, architect of India’s freedom through nonviolent means and the greatest apostle of peace in the 20th Century.
SurveyLA – LA Historic Resources Survey