The Houdini Seance Room was originally one of four bedrooms inside the Lane Mansion. It was converted by John Shrum, Dr. Tom Heric and Milt Larsen on February 27, 1969 (so technically it's not yet 50, but I like my headline). The centerpiece of the room is a beautiful signed Lalique bronze chandelier which hangs over the large round seance table. The room was remodeled in 1997 and again in 2008.
The room contains a wonderful collection of authentic Houdini artifacts, some of which were handed down from Bess and Edward Saint to the parents of Magic Castle co-founders Bill and Milt Larsen (Bess and Ed lived very near the Lane Mansion in their final years). There is a truly intense "Houdini vibe" in the room that I'm convinced emanates from these artifacts which, after all, are only a few hands away from Houdini himself. There's also a beautiful Houdini portrait painting by Craig Vilaube.
Celebrities and dignitaries of all kinds have attended seances in the Houdini Room, including a famous 1991 visit by President Ronald Reagan. At one point the room had a full-size Houdini mannequin that would lower from a secret trap in the ceiling during the dark of a seance. According to long-time medium Leo Kostka, one night the mannequin's head fell off and landed in the lap of a Japanese woman, sending her entire tour party screaming from the Castle.
But my single favorite item in the Houdini Seance Room is a photo of an 8-year-old Milt Larsen showing a magic trick to an attentive Bess Houdini on the porch of the Larsen home in Pasadena. Priceless.
Happy 50th Anniversary to The Magic Castle!