A minimum of eight turrets. Stained glass home windows round a medieval-looking door. Sneering stone gargoyles.
These fantastical options might all be discovered gracing the outside of 3320 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Hop into Google Maps Avenue View and see it for your self.
A second fort — strikingly related in model — is simply across the nook on Lima Avenue. Residence to Lincoln Beer Firm, patrons can sip on the brewery’s “completely pineapple” fruited wheat pints nearby of the constructing’s towers, reaching nobly into the Southern California skies.
Lower than 4 miles away is one other palatial constructing, tucked behind an Enterprise Lease-A-Automotive on Victory Boulevard. Appropriately sufficient, it’s dwelling to L.A. Citadel Studios, a TV and movie manufacturing firm.
So, what’s the take care of all of the random castles in Burbank?
This query, winner of one among our newest reader polls, was posed on the #AskLosAngeles subreddit.
After looking at some property data with The Occasions’ analysis library workers and making a number of calls, I found the person behind Burbank’s mysterious castles.
He was intensely artistic, not content material to easily dot Burbank’s streets with bland, box-like business buildings. As an alternative, he aimed to go away a legacy behind in a metropolis he liked.
However earlier than this developer constructed castles, he made a fortune doing one thing barely much less whimsical: supplying specialised components and hinges for the aerospace business.
Gary Bandy, who died at 80 from cardiovascular issues in October 2021, remodeled his household’s Burbank-based enterprise “from a million- dollar-a-year firm right into a $14-million-a-year firm,” stated Brett Bandy, one among Gary’s 11 youngsters.
He was “a really charismatic man,” Brett stated. “He knew the best way to get individuals to work for him and to comprehend his imaginative and prescient.”
Through the years, Bandy reinvested earnings into actual property growth. He constructed varied residential, industrial and business buildings — dressing a few of them up as castles alongside the way in which.
“His buildings add enjoyable and aptitude the place others selected drab and predictable; factories and workplace buildings featured towers and turrets,” reads Bandy’s Seattle Occasions obituary.
However the place did Bandy’s fort inspiration come from?
His upbringing in L.A. County actually performed a task, stated Greta Bandy, Bandy’s widow. Born at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Middle and raised within the San Fernando Valley, Bandy was “a California boy via and thru.”
“He was a really romantic particular person, and I believe Hollywood has a lot to do with that,” she stated. “The entire concept of Camelot actually caught with him.”
Bandy additionally longed to go away a tangible mark on the Burbank neighborhood. “Burbank introduced him wealth, Burbank was a spot the place he discovered pleasure, the place he was profitable. And so he needed to…depart some form of legacy,” stated son Garrett Bandy.
Given Burbank’s significance within the movie business, “He thought, ‘Why don’t I [build] these castles?’” Garrett stated.
Conveniently, constructing castles doesn’t have to price considerably greater than establishing your common constructing — no less than not the way in which Bandy and his workforce approached it. “You solely wanted to change partitions somewhat bit and placed on some additional traits that weren’t that rather more costly than an everyday block constructing,” Brett stated.
One after the other, Bandy — together with shut collaborators, resembling normal contractor Henrik Okland — introduced the castles to life.
“My dad constructed actually just for Mr. Bandy for about 17 years,” stated Erik Okland, Henrik’s son, who frolicked along with his father at building websites for Bandy’s at occasions unconventional buildings.
“Mr. Bandy would say, ‘That is what I would like,’ and my dad had the flexibility to simply construct it.”
Bandy’s imaginative method to actual property growth continues to repay at the moment.
“We maintain a just about zero emptiness price throughout Burbank in any of the buildings that we personal which can be within the fort model,” Garrett stated. The aesthetic “actually appeals to anyone that desires a artistic spot to have their enterprise.”
A kind of individuals is Tim Pipher, proprietor of L.A. Citadel Studios, who appreciates the distinction between the inside and exterior of the constructing he rents for the manufacturing facility.
“I really like the Outdated Hollywood really feel from the surface, after which inside we’ve obtained a really high-tech place,” he stated. “Put all of it collectively, and it’s actually cool spot.”
Bandy’s aptitude prolonged past Burbank metropolis limits.
Within the Nineteen Seventies, Bandy bought Vasquez Paradise Park, a 20-acre property with swimming swimming pools and ponds within the shadow of Vasquez Rocks in northern L.A. County.
“I believed it might be a pleasant place to boost my children,” Bandy informed the Newhall Sign and Saugus Enterprise in August 1975. “I noticed the potential.”
After shopping for the personal recreation park, Bandy set about reworking it to his “private adorning style,” the Sign reported.
However as an alternative of establishing castles, Bandy went full “Wild West” in model.
“A customer…first notices The Howling Wilderness Saloon, constructed much like the primary saloon by that identify in Virginia Metropolis, Nevada, in 1868, however serving solely meals, smooth drinks and beer,” the Sign reported. “Whether it is Sunday, Bandy will in all probability be posted on the ticket sales space, which resembles a railroad depot.”
Bandy’s actual property growth efforts — and penchant for palaces — additionally prolonged north to coastal Washington.
In 1989, the Kitsap Solar reported on “Troll Haven,” a sprawling property alongside the coast of Discovery Bay in Washington.
“On a misty day, the grey stone fort with purple — purple! — trim has an unreal shimmer,” reported Julie McCormick in September 1989.
Statues of giants and trolls dotted the property, a lot to the delight of holiday makers who sought out the fort.
Not everybody was charmed by Troll Haven, nonetheless.
“It’s known as Bandyville by neighbors who don’t just like the vacationers and occasional tour buses — and the truth that since 1979, Bandy has purchased up about 200 contiguous acres at Gardiner,” wrote McCormick.
When some locals complained concerning the fort’s violet hue, Bandy determined to repaint.
“He painted all of it the colours of the rainbow so it stood out much more,” Greta Bandy stated. “He was a little bit of a fighter.”
It may well take a preventing spirit to convey a undertaking like Troll Haven to life — and in some circumstances, a developer’s offbeat imaginative and prescient good points extra appreciation over time.
Right now, Troll Haven nonetheless stands sentry on the Olympic Peninsula — simply as Bandy’s Southern California castles proceed to amuse and bemuse Burbank residents and employees.
“It’s cool,” stated Gayane Movsesyan, proprietor of Tonir Cafe on North San Fernando Boulevard, a block away from one among Bandy’s castles. “You simply surprise, ‘What is that this? What’s happening in there?’”
Pipher says shoppers are incessantly charmed by his firm’s royal-feeling location.
“We continually get feedback alongside the strains of ‘I’ve been driving by this place day-after-day for years. I by no means knew what was in there.’ After which once they are available in and see what it’s, they appear to be very excited.”
The fort, which Pipher started renting after relocating the corporate from Florida to Burbank, left an plain mark on the manufacturing studio — proper right down to its identify.
Initially, “we weren’t known as something to do with castles,” Pipher stated. “However we thought, after we noticed the constructing, it might be pure to rename our enterprise to replicate that fort theme. So we turned L.A. Citadel Studios.”
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Occasions library director Cary Schneider and information researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this story.