Rubel Castle Historic District

This ambitious assessment and plan offers a whimsical historic district known for its monumental folk-art architecture a roadmap to the future.

Place Details


844 N Live Oak Ave, Glendora, CA 91741
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The Rubel Castle Historic District (RCHD), tucked away in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, is planning for a future filled with possibility. Since the late 1960s, the Glendora community has watched this monumental piece of folk art— the brainchild of castle-building enthusiast Michael Clarke Rubel (1940 – 2007)–evolve into a treasured expression of art and imagination that inspires people to follow their dreams. Now, the community, led by the Glendora Historical Society (GHS), is ready to ensure that the Castle, its art, and its cultural significance will be preserved.

At the young age of 19, Michael Rubel had already traveled the world and was working odd jobs when he acquired a remote piece of property that housed old ranch buildings, which he called Rubel Pharms. Rubel focused on constructing an enormous castle on the reservoir of the property. Most of the “Castle Complex” structures were built out of recycled, local material. Along with the help of supporters (or, “Pharm Hands”) the Castle grew into a rare example of folk-art architecture, made even more unique due to its location on Glendora’s last remaining intact citrus farming lot.

In 2013, the RCHD was added to the National Register of Historic Places. However, because the building is constructed from found, reclaimed, and recycled materials by non-professional builders, it has remained precarious. The Conditions Assessment and Preservation Plan conducted by Page & Turnbull, under the auspices of the GHS, is a planning tool for the proactive maintenance and future rehabilitation of the RCHD. This includes identifying potential hazards, seismic retrofit, system upgrades, and more.

The goal of the Plan is to provide a foundation of documentation, information, assessment, and recommendations about the Castle Complex, contributing buildings, miscellaneous structures, infrastructure, grounds, and more. The creation of a Treatment Recommendations Matrix helped guide the conservation of RCHD now and into the future.

While the preservation philosophy at the RHCD is underpinned by the Secretary of The Interior’s Standards For The Treatment of Historic Places, it provides space for conservation work and new artistic expression to be performed by existing and future generations of Pharm Hands.


Owner: Glendora Historical Society, President Craig Woods 

Advisory Committee Members: Kaitlin Drisko, Linda Granicy, Sandy Krause, Sheharazad Fleming, Scott Rubel, Bob Deering, Hans Hermann, Criswell Guldberg, Bob Knight 

Preservation Architect: Page & Turnbull 

Digital Documentation Consultant: AQYER, LLC 

In 1968, Michael Rubel decided to focus full-time on his lifelong passion: castle-building.
With the help and support of hundreds of friends (Pharm Hands), Rubel constructed an enormous castle within a reservoir on the property he acquired at 19.
Most of the structures within the “Castle Complex” were constructed out of recycled, local materials (referred to as “urbanite” by the builders).
In 1986, the castle was completed and a celebration ensued.
In 2005 Michael Rubel donated the property to the Glendora Historical Society (GHS), a 501(c)3 organization, stipulating that it be a living educational center and museum.
The complex is a self-contained, 1.7-acre folk art environment consisting of a walled, 22,000-square-foot Castle Complex and adjacent, adaptively reused early 20th century citrus buildings.
In 2013, Rubel Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
To ensure the site’s longevity, a Preservation Plan was completed in 2023 on how to properly care for, maintain and preserve the property.
Because the building is constructed from found, reclaimed, and recycled materials by non-professional builders it has remained in a state of precarity until the recent Conditions Assessment and Preservation Plan.
Rubel Castle has always been a beloved part of the community and it continues as a place where dreams are made possible.