Perhaps one of the wisest things L. Ron Hubbard ever said was, "If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion."
Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was definitely onto something there (although we can't vouch for the quality of his science fiction novels). We'd be interested to hear the late Hubbard's take on how to make a residence into a religious mecca, especially considering all the hubbub surrounding Hubbard's old house near Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.
Hubbard moved into the house, located on 44th Street just north of Stanford Drive, in March of 1952. While there, he founded Scientology (the first organization was the Hubbard Association of Scientologists) and authored his first five books on the then-new religion.
The Church of Scientology purchased the house in 2000 and began converting it into a museum. The interior of the house was restored to appear as it did when Hubbard lived there, and displays were set up, including the recording equipment Hubbard used to record lectures from 1952 to 1955 (some 600 lectures total), his design of the original scientology cross and collar pins, his motorcycle helmet and gloves, his camera, and a bust of Hubbard done by one of his students.
All that said, visitors cannot tour the L. Ron Hubbard House. This is because, as our colleague Robrt Pela explained in this feature on the Hubbard house last February, neighbors in the area were less than thrilled with the idea of a scientology "recruitment center" and tour buses on their street.
So the house just sits there for now, its last known occupant a live-in manager named Marlyse Brock. Interior photos of the house can be seen at lrhinphoenix.org, but some of the exterior can be seen from the street -- despite the wall now wrapped around the property.
Most of the backyard is visible behind a chain-link fence, and boasts a swimming pool, orange trees, and a quaint sitting area where we picture Hubbard pontificating on the nature of the human spirit or whatever. An American flag flies proudly along the side of the house by the gravel driveway, and modest strings of Christmas lights adorn the awning at the front of the house.
That was about all we could see beyond the big mauve wall, which makes the L. Ron Hubbard house one of the most hidden "Hidden Valley" places we've visited.
L. Ron Hubbard's house is located at 5501 N. 44th Street. Tours are "temporarily suspended." For more information, call 602-840-5060.