Reinventing the "Court of Mysteries"

September 03, 2021

Reinventing the


Flooring: Monarch Plank

Lago Collection, "Moro"

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

All homes tell a story, but few have a history as shrouded in lore as the “Court of Mysteries” in Santa Cruz, CA. Today the property boasts one of the most notable homes in Santa Cruz, a beautifully designed Spanish style home that integrates effortlessly into the restored historic structures that give the property its iconic notoriety.

Historians believe the original project was started in the late 30’s/early 40’s by the Kenneth Kitchen, a locally renowned brick mason. Kitchen, believed to be inspired by Hindu religion and the occult, built, brick by brick, a dramatic main temple along with towers and a surrounding gate, each carefully decorated with inlaid abalone.

The remarkable craftsmanship was supported by unheard of (at the time) rebar enhancements that undoubtedly played a role in the structure’s ability to weather decades of vandalism and neglect after Kitchen abandoned the project for unknown reasons. Over time, as the property remained vacant, the mystery and stories grew, from holding hidden symbols to the property being used in defense during World War II.  Unfortunately, without any regular maintenance, the property became overrun and was generally deemed an eyesore.

Racing forward to 2015, a local real estate agent reached out to the current owner, whose father had purchased the property from Kitchen over 50 years prior, and got the green light to sell the property.  Despite the layers of complexity associated with the sale of such a distinct and unmaintained property, it quickly caught the eye of a couple who embraced the unique character of the property and envisioned how a modern home could be constructed to incorporate the historic buildings and structures.

The new “Court of Mysteries” boasts a 3000 sq.ft. Spanish style home along with a secondary unit that opens to a courtyard across from the beautifully restored original 1400 sq.ft. home.  Each finish in the new home was carefully chosen to capture the dramatic personality and design aesthetic of Kenneth Kitchen.  This includes the decision to use our Monarch Plank Lago Moro, whose rich dark color offers a dramatic contrast to the colorful décor.

For additional information on the history of this property and the journey taken to restore it please visit

Nighttime at the new Court of Mysteries!