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State commission adds Rockhaven to historic register

Rockhaven Sanitarium, at 2713 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose. Glendale officials, including Mayor Paula Devine, have said they want to preserve the historic integrity of the site.

Rockhaven Sanitarium, at 2713 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose. Glendale officials, including Mayor Paula Devine, have said they want to preserve the historic integrity of the site.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The State Historical Resources Commission unanimously agreed to list the former Rockhaven Sanitarium in Montrose on the state register of historic places during a quarterly meeting Monday in San Francisco, according to Friends of Rockhaven.

The group enlisted the help of Pasadena-based Historic Resources Group, a historic preservation consulting firm, to nominate the site — which includes buildings, trees and gardens — for historical designation.

The commission’s approval now goes before the keeper of the National Register to the National Register of Historic Places for consideration.

In 1923, psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards established Rockhaven, which was one of the first private mental health institutions in the state at the time, and it served only women, including Hollywood stars.

In 1923, psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards established Rockhaven, which was one of the first private mental health institutions in the state at the time, and it served only women, including Hollywood stars.

(Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley)

Joanna Linkchorst, president of Friends of Rockhaven, said she wanted the designation to be the first step in an effort to transform the property into a state historic park.

Meanwhile, the May 5 deadline is approaching for plans to be filed with the city of Glendale for two proposed uses for Rockhaven. One would reopen the site as a mental health facility, the other would convert it into a boutique retail center.

Linkchorst said she does not want the site to turn into a health facility, closed off to the public.

“We’re really hoping that something more historically geared will come from this,” she said, adding that she could see classic movie nights or classic car shows being held on the site.

“I want [the buildings] to be alive with art and commerce and food,” she said.

In 1923, psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards established Rockhaven, which was one of the first private mental health institutions in the state at the time, and it served only women, including Hollywood stars.

Then: Rockhaven Sanitarium grew over the years, and by the '50s featured this grand gated entrance.

Then: Rockhaven Sanitarium grew over the years, and by the ‘50s featured this grand gated entrance.

(Courtesy of the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley )

The facility closed in 2006, and the city purchased it two years later for about $8.25 million to keep it from being demolished and becoming a senior housing project.

It costs the city about $50,000 each year to maintain. Although not open to the public, the facility is available for tours provided by the Friends of Rockhaven.

City officials, including Mayor Paula Devine, have said they want to preserve the historic integrity of the site.

According to the city’s website, officials also want to ensure “compatibility with the neighborhood,” and find ways Rockhaven “can be utilized by community groups.”

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Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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