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Meet Joanna Linkchorst of Friends of Rockhaven

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna Linkchorst.

Joanna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am an at-home mom who, as my kids got older, got more and more involved in things like PTA and the Education Foundation. When they were older I became more involved with the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley then trained as a docent at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Rockhaven was purchased by the City of Glendale in 2008 but the kid were too little for me to be very involved, After 5 years they had a renewed interest and began letting the HSCV start Cleaning Days and Private Tours and I was in the perfect place to get involved! Not only was my son on to his own things, my daughter got involved right along with me!

Then one day the caretaker said that the City had toured developers on what the community was told would be a park one day. So, along with a few other HSCV board members, we created the Friends of Rockhaven to head up all preservation and education efforts. I am president and my daughter is a secretary!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course not! The City at first wanted us all involved with the process but as soon as we sat down the then-City Manager grabbed our little book of plans and drew housing all over the park property!

We said no.

Soon we lost our Seat At The Table, as they say, and heard through public announcements their Request for Proposals going out. Proposals came in for mental health treatment centers, drug rehab, housing and a hotel. But a local developer came in to save the day with a plan that was nearly everything we could hope for- no housing, the least amount of change and the most amount of preservation, and suitable businesses in the old buildings (as well as a museum)!

We lobbied hard and tried to inspire the community to let their City representatives know that we want this plan! And they decided to try it! Whoopee! But the developer has felt very negatively about how the negotiations have been going so in a couple weeks we learn if the city goes with this plan, or we start all over again.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Friends of Rockhaven story. Tell us more about the business.
The Friends of Rockhaven has the privilege of learning about and teaching about Rockhaven Sanitarium. It was formed in 1923 by a woman to be run by women for women with mild mental and nervous disorders to give them safe and respectful treatment. Even an opportunity to recover and go home rather than being locked away in a governmental institution.

I have interviewed the founder’s granddaughter who took over when her grandmother passed away, as well as another granddaughter, a former nurse, and children of former patients to learn more of the amazing stories that happened there. We then get to lead tours once a month to share this 3.5-acre property and many of the buildings built between 1920 and 1939 with groups of interested folks.

We also get to go in and keep an eye on the wear and tear and attempt to help maintain the property. We spread the word by trying to find publications and podcasts to tell their followers, and set up at a couple historical events as well as once a month at our local Montrose Harvest Market.

We have had a few events to try and gain a little more attention as well such as meetings at the local Woman’s Club and a woman’s art and craft fair. This Sept our meeting will be at our local historical bowling ally, and in October a book is coming out about the founder and some of the women- famous or not so.

I am most proud of the tours we get to conduct and the people whom we have touched. I love when people get enthusiastic about wanting to open this place to the public so more people can see it the way they did!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
That is a very interesting question! I can’t think of any way that it has other than the opportunity to do this work and create this business coming along at the exact right time. And all the experiences I had before giving me the skills to start with.


  • We sell some souvenirs? T-shirts, tiles to match ones on a 1929 building, jewelry.$5-25

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jason House

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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