I love emphasizing how weird our world is in both my show and my blog here. Part of that is focusing on old myths and legends. Every place has its own weird history and lore that most don’t know about. Usually, the locals of an area know much more about this than anyone else. Well, Los Angeles is no different. Despite being in the center of the limelight, LA has its own mysteries and strange pieces of history frozen in time. And many of these stories are kept relatively secret. Today, we are going to talk about one of these: The Spider Pool.
The story of the Spider Pool begins back in the golden age of Hollywood with writer and director Jack McDermott. McDermott worked in Hollywood during the age of silent films and would take set pieces and props that were discarded after being used in movies. He would use these pieces to build his home. Because of this, his home became known as the “crazy house”. When McDermott was working on his “crazy house”, there were no supposedly no roads that made it up that high into the Hollywood Hills. He started that fad, creating a strange, castle-like structure of random rooms and themes up in a hill that he chose. By the time the home was mostly complete, there were secret passageways, a fireplace underneath of a bed, a fake graveyard, a dungeon room, and even a room with the furniture nailed to the ceiling. You see, McDermott threw lavish, Gatsby-style parties in his “crazy house”, and he loved to play jokes on his drunk guests, placing passed-out visitors in the “upside-down room” so they awoke in confusion. It has even been said that the entrance to McDermott’s home was also a long, secret passageway.
McDermott was known to be a master of illusion and absurdity in his own home. And Hollywood’s elites, such as John Barrymore, could be found at his “crazy house” regularly. Unfortunately, after McDermott stepped away from the Hollywood scene, he overdosed on sleeping pills inside of his home in 1946, and the structure quickly went into disrepair, despite passing through a few hands. Unfortunately, the home faded into nothing more than a Hollywood legend, and, despite minor ruins being scattered around this towering hill McDermitt called a home, the “crazy house” and McDermott were basically forgotten.
Flash forward to the dawn of the internet! People began seeing a common theme in old, classical pinup shots- an intricate spider mosaic on a wall behind a pool. After some good-old-fashioned online research, it was discovered that this spider mosaic was from none other than Jack McDermott’s pool. All over the internet, people began sharing clues and information to try and discover the remains of the pool. Though no one really knew if it was still around. And, in 2004, after it was re-discovered up in the hills by urban explorers, everyone was ecstatic to find that the Spider Pool was still mostly intact. Though the pool is no longer there, the Spider Mosaic sits as the last real remaining structure left behind by Jack McDermott. While it has since been discovered by many urban explorers, the location is so hard to get to and the exact spot is so secret that anyone who finds it keeps their mouth shut about exact location. They want everyone else to work as hard to find it as they did. But, I can honestly say, with a bit of research and internet diving, you can most definitely find it yourself.
I will keep the tradition alive and not tell you exactly where it is, but I will tell you that you can easily spot the pool on Google Earth if you’re able to find the coordinates that are close to it. So, for Weird World Adventures, we honored McDermott’s legacy and made the daring climb up McDermott’s hillside, climbing and tumbling in a manor I’m sure both himself and his guests did back in the beginning stages of his home. Today, the trek to get there can’t be done unless you get permission from a nearby neighbor (to climb up their backyard). So, we, of course, did that. The climb is definitely steep and strenuous, but it is also short and definitely not impossible. And as of 2020, I’m happy to say that the Spider Pool is still there!
McDermott’s home and legacy may be almost entirely erased, but the Spider Pool still stands as an endearing nod to him; and it serves as a piece of pinup and old Hollywood history. It is most definitely a ruin, but the fact that the spider mosaic remains is truly exciting to say the least. Now, please don’t trespass. Try making friends with a neighboring home to get access to the pool if you are able to pinpoint its location and are up for a good adventure. But, instead, I encourage you to search, study, and learn more about McDermott’s story. He was most definitely and interesting man, and he left a weird footprint in Hollywood’s history.