Elsinore Naval and Military School – Lake Elsinore, California - Atlas Obscura

Elsinore Naval and Military School

Lake Elsinore, California

This stately structure has been abandoned for half a century.  


This abandoned structure stands alluring and in a state of rapid decay. You wouldn’t know by looking at its haunting exterior, but the Elsinore Naval and Military Academy was built in the 1920s to be the Southern California Athletic and Country Club.

Despite completion, the club never opened due to financial troubles brought on by the Great Depression. Instead, in 1933, the stately building opened as the Elsinore Naval Academy, a school for boys in grades 1 through 12.

Sometime during its operation, the name was changed to Elsinore Naval and Military School. It is said to have averaged 150 to 200 students until it closed in 1977. The school played host and home to sons of foreign dictators, wealthy parents like Brian Keiths and Barbara Rush, and even the son of actor Bela Lugosi, of “Count Dracula” fame.

The school has remained empty since 1977. The outbuildings that housed classrooms burned down in the 1980s while squatters, vandalism, and the weather continue to damage the aging building.

Beyond its ineffective chain link security fence, the building appears tired and worn as it awaits restoration or a wrecking ball. A caretaker lives on-site in an RV to keep watch over the grounds at all times.

Know Before You Go

If you ask nicely, the caretakers may let you in to explore.

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