At the southern crest of Mount Washington, overlooking downtown Los Angeles, stands an impressive three-story Mission Revival structure which now serves as the International Headquarters of Self-Realization Fellowship.
Originally constructed in 1910 as the Mount Washington Hotel, it was intended as the centerpiece for an exclusive residential subdivision promoted by real estate developer, Robert Marsh.
The hotel was served by a cable railway and featured a tennis court and terraces with panoramic views. For a time it was a highly popular spot, frequented by local sportsmen and silent film stars, such as Charlie Chaplin.
But its popularity proved short, as the film studios moved out of Sycamore Grove Park on their way to Hollywood. By the time Paramahansa Yogananda happened upon the site in 1925, the building stood vacant. Hailed as the "father of yoga in the West," and widely regarded as a seminal religious figure of the twentieth century, Yogananda was on a cross-country speaking tour at the time, but it is said that when he saw the building, he immediately recognized it from a vision he had had years before in Kashmir. He decided to buy it as his residence and headquarters.
Over the decades, Yogananda taught hundreds of thousands - including Mahatma Gandhi. Among his
students in America were horticulturalist Luther Burbank, conductor Leopold Stokowski, poet Edwin Markham, and industrialist George Eastman (inventor of the Kodak camera). Many celebrities visited Mount Washington during Yogananda's lifetime and many continued to visit after his passing, perhaps most notably Elvis Presley and George Harrison.
As the years passed, Yogananda acquired additional land adjacent to the original hotel. Today the property consists of about 12½ acres, including beautiful landscaped grounds that are open to the public. Since Yogananda's passing in 1952, the property has served as the international headquarters of Self-Realization Fellowship, the nonprofit religious society he founded to carry on his spiritual and humanitarian work. It was officially designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2006.