Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lake Arrowhead has always had ties with the Hollywood bunch. MANY celebrities now, as well as then, have called Lake Arrowhead escape from the hustle-bustle of Los Angeles and other large cities below. But the most famous celebrity ever to own property in Lake Arrowhead was the notorious mobster, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegal."

Bugsy (he lothed being called Bugsy) talked the Chicago Mob into backing his new venture, which is now known as Bracken Fern Manor. This Alpine-style inn opened as Club Arrowhead in The Pines on July 4th, 1929. The inn had state of the art amenities, such as electricity! More importantly, it catered to the rich and famous, offering gambling, illegal liquor and "working girls." Other amenities included an Olympic size swimming pool, skiing, tennis courts, a bathhouse, and more. The brothel continued operations through World War II. Gambling was maintained in the speakeasy (across the street) up until 1955. Today, Bracken Fern Manor is a Certified Historic Landmark in the State of California. (The door to the right led to underground tunnels).
Across from Bracken Fern Manor is where gambling took place at The CLUB. We now call this (below/left) "The Tutor House." Story has it that when cops were on their way up the mountain from San Bernardino, and administrators were alerted, gambling tables were actually turned over, then appearing as regular tables.

Bracken Fern Manor claims to be haunted by a former "working girl" named Violet. She killed herself after the mob killed her lover. You can still smell her violet scented perfume wafting through the halls. Another ghost of a little boy has also been seen at this historic inn. He is thought to be the son of a former prostitute and was trampled by a team of horses. Today his tiny footsteps are often seen in the it is told.
After the inn became successful, Bugsy convinced the Bosses in Chicago to front him the dough for another little gambling adventure.....Las Vegas. However, Bugsy's lavish taste caused him to go way over his one million dollar budget and ultimently cost him his credibility with Chicago. And his life. While he was having dinner one evening with his lover, Virginia Hill, at her Hollywood home, Bugsy was shot dead.
Bracken Fern Manor is located at 815 Arrowhead Villas Road, Arrowhead Villas, a tiny sub-area in Lake Arrowhead and is currently a B & B.

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