Cobb Estate – Altadena, California - Atlas Obscura

Cobb Estate

This California estate was either haunted by ghosts or the Marx brothers. 


When retired lumber magnate Charles Cobb built an estate in the foothills north of Pasadena in 1918, the only indication that the “haunted woods” behind his house had any ghosts was the name.

Cobb lived on the property without incident until his death in 1939, when the 107-acre estate was deeded to the Pasadena Masons, as specified in his will. And still no ghosts.

Eventually the property was purchased from the Masons and converted to a retreat for the Sisters of St. Joseph, and not a word about supernatural activity was heard. It was when the Marx Brothers bought the estate in 1956 that the rumors of strange noises and eerie lights at the now vacant home began to circulate amongst the townsfolk. Whether or not that had to do with the squatters and teenagers who used the house for various nocturnal activities is an open question.

Finally, the Brothers Marx had the dilapidated home torn down in 1959 and the land sat unused until 1971. A plan to turn the formerly grand estate into a cemetery met with fierce neighborhood resistance, because the only thing worse for property values than a haunted forest is a haunted forest with a cemetery inside it. Finally, a private donation allowed the city to purchase the land, which is now a popular hiking destination for outdoorsmen who aren’t fazed by the possibility of a spectral sighting.

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