Save Druid Heights


On May 24th 2018 Beat Generation poet and pioneering multimedia artist Gerd Stern, his partner Judith, the author of this post, Michael Toivonen and photographer David Keaton took a walk through the history nocvupied portions of Druid Heights.
To make an informal record of our visit I kept my iPhone, mounted on a hand grip, recording the entire time. We were constantly on the move so, given the obstacle course that is Druid Heights, I could give little attention to aiming the camera. I as well felt the need to make sure Gerd, at 89, did not lose his balance.
The vast majority of the dialogue is between Gerd and I. Gerd shared his memories from his visits to Druid Heights and I did my best to answer his questions based on what I had learned after ~18 months of serious interest in DH.
Gerd had spent several weeks using Roger Somers workshop at DH in 1963 while he built his pioneering multimedia sculpture “Contact Is The Only Love”. On another occasion Gerd told me that besides allowing him to use the workshop Roger had also helped with the sculpture’s construction. But Gerd had, as recorded here, first visited Druid Heights in the 1950s.
It was a real pleasure to spend time at Druid Heights with Gerd. He is a natural story teller who was very happy to be both back at a place that meant a lot to him, and to recall his friendship with Roger Somers and his then wife Barbara.


The poem below from short term (several months, fall 1969 through early/mid 1970 ) Druid Heights resident Gary Snyder was dedicated to Druid Heights resident Alan Watts following his death on November 16, 1973. I believe their time at DH overlapped. If you have ever hiked in the Mt. Tamalpais/Marin headlands area you know that Snyder’s words match the land near DH as well as the way of Alan Watts.

The photos of Watts and Snyder date from the late 1950s. By then they had been friends for several years.

For Alan

“He blazed out the new path of all of us , and came back and made it clear .

Explored the side canyons and deer trails ,

And investigated Cliffs and thickets..

Many guides will have us travel single file,

Like mules in a pack train and never leave the trail .

Alan taught us to move forward like the breeze ,

Tasting the berries ,greeting blue jays, learning and loving the whole terrain..”


If you want to get a better sense of the situation at Druid Heights you need to read the article “America’s Only LGBTQ Historic District Is Falling Apart” linked to below all the way through to the end. Unfortunately the owner of Druid Heights, the US National Park Service, did not respond to many of the questions of writer Leo D. Rocha.

While the story focuses on the LGBTQ legacy aspect of Druid Heights it includes much more, and it is the best coverage to date on the background of the tragic neglect of a unique historic place. Use the link blow to view the story:

Rocha interviewed many others who did answer his questions, including the author of this post. One quote stands out:

The apparent federal obfuscation, foot-dragging and practice if not policy of demolition by neglect with regard to Druid Heights is a scandal.” Gerard Koskovich, LGBTQ historian”

Photo courtesy of Todd Sipes


Photo courtesy of Steve Moeller

This early 1970’s photo captures Druid Heights original resident Roger Somers playing the conga. On the left and behind him are his drafting table and books on architectural subjects, while on the right are several of his other favorite instrument, the saxophone along with what appears to be a small Indian Sitar.

It was in this room that he put his ideas on paper, including the design of the bus for rock star Neil Young. Given the incredible detail and that the project was being built by a crew of craftspeople needing highly detailed directions the drafting table must have seen a lot of use. But Roger played as hard as he worked, and music was certainly a favorite form of play for him and his many top drawer musician friends.

Photo courtesy of Tagore Somers

The photo below shows a broader view of the same room and was taken probably taken around the same time or not long afterwards. Sadly, this room is in terrible shape today, and would very likely need to be be rebuilt from the ground up if it was to be brought back to life. Other buildings at Druid Heights are in better shape but sliding towards the same fate unless steps are taken to, at a minimum, stop their decay.

Photo courtesy of Detlef Kotzte


I doubt it is looking this lush and green out there now given the terrible drought, now in its second year. I took this photo of poet and artist Gerd Stern and his partner Judith on one of the two visits I have paid to Druid Heights since the Save Druid Heights group was founded in summer 2017,

Both those visits were made after first notifying the National Park Service. Newer followers of this site may not know that Gerd, with the help of Druid Heights’ Roger Somers and using Rogers workshop at Druid Heights built his first multimedia sculpture there over a period of 6 weeks in 1963. Our visit was the first time he had been there since that era.

For more info on Gerd Stern search his name. On the Save Druid Heights Youtube channel you can also check out some video footage of him shot on the same day at DH as well as a couple of others filmed elsewhere that day where he discusses his work, Roger Somers and Druid Heights.

Here is a link to one of those videos as a starter:


Druid Heights’ Roger Somers caught up with rock star Neil Young in an east coast hotel room while Young was on tour and pitched himself as the designer /craftsman more than capable of taking a standard bus and converting it into a work of art as well as a rolling home on the road for a rock star.

By the fall of 1975 the project was under way. Somers had designed the woodwork and assembled a team to assist in the building while Bart Ehman and another crew were handling the extensive mechanical alterations and metal work. The budget was ample, to say the least. The Marin County, CA newspaper the Independent Journal’s 10/27/75 front page article on the project reported the budget as $400,000, the equivalent of over $2,000,000 in 2021.

Sadly, several years later an electrical malfunction sparked a fire that destroyed the bus. Young later commissioned Somers to design a replacement, christened “Zuma”, which he still owns.

Somers designed and built many projects over the years both for clients and on his land at Druid Heights. The bus “Pocoahontas” by Young was the most audacious both for its design and craftsmanship. While it is lost, his beautiful designs on the land now owned by the National Park Service are not, just dangerously neglected. Use the link above to sign up to receive updates like this from our group on the history of Druid Heights and on opportunities to support the preservation of Roger’s designs and craftsmanship at Druid Heights.

Interior view of the bus, “Pocahontas”
Unknown woman, Roger Somers and Neil Young relaxing on “Pocohontas”
Bart Ehman, center, with some of his crew of mechanics and metal workers
Interior side of the bus’s door

Roger Somers’ son Tagore in the “cockpit” of the bus
Mechanics Rob Poole, Jim Laird (?) and Neil Young
Exterior view of the replacement for the destroyed by fire bus “Pocohontas”, christened “Zuma” by Neil Young

The California Preservation Foundation presents a webinar on Druid Heights

At the invitation of the California Preservation Foundation Save Druid Heights co-founders UC Berkeley architectural historian Greg Castillo and Michael Toivonen presented a webinar on Druid Heights in August of 2020. It is now available for viewing on Youtube without a paywall. Neither Greg nor Michael received any funds for their presentations.

Greg’s portion of the webinar covers the context of the architecture of the structures at Druid Heights while Michael’s focuses first on a brief tour of the Druid Heights site as viewed in photos taken during the last decade and then switches to vintage photos of Druid Heights that have been shared with the Save Druid Heights group. Their presentations are followed by a Q &A session. To date this is one of the best means to get a broad view of Druid Heights in the course of just over an hour.


The Marin County California weekly The Pacific Sun has just (1/19/21) published an article on Druid Heights that emphasizes the need for preservation. This is the first traditional media coverage Druid Heights has received for some time, and the first to contact the Save Druid Heights group as part of the author’s research. Besides offering a brief glimpse at the place, the people and the history, this article puts the primary responsibility for stewardship of this historic place, or lack thereof, where it belongs, with the owner of Druid Heights, the National Park Service. Use the link immediately below to read the article.




Not your typical old airstream trailer

Along side one of the smaller structures at Druid Heights is an aging airstream trailer. Nothing about its exterior stands out, and when I took this photo of it in 2016 I saw no reason to look closer.

Not looking closer was a big mistake. The photo below taken by Todd Sipes ( shows why. The remodel of the trailer was certainly, given the style, designed by Druid Heights resident Roger Somers and represents a major creative flight. This Airstream trailer’s traveling days may have been through once it arrived at Druid Heights but it could move the imagination of those who resided within.

I have subsequently learned that this trailer has been included as a significant structure in the submission of Druid Heights for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places as put forward by the National Park Service. The trailer became part of the submission following the submissions review by the California State Historic Preservation who is charged with reviewing all all such submissions for California places, even in cases where the owner is a branch of the Federal Government.


And most important, one had time and quiet days and nights (at Druid Heights) to mull over thoughts and ideas and how to implement them, or time to write about life.” ——–Margo St James, in her August 12, 2009 oral history interview on her days at Druid Heights
St. James lived at Druid Heights from circa 1969 to circa 1974 or 75.
The photo is of an unknown woman, and was very likely taken at Druid Heights, though that is not certain. It was sent to us by Margo’s friend Don Sobjack a few months back along with others that were obviously taken at Druid Heights.
Margo St. James photo from mystery woman


The results are in, meaning we have seen the final determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic  Places report for Druid Heights. The final version extended the period of Druid Heights significance through the year 1979, the year that one of Druid Heights significant resident builders and wood workers, Ed Stiles, completed his new wood working shop.

Ed’s shop is one of the most beautiful wood working shops the author of this post has  ever seen, and he has visited a few noteworthy wood shops and has a coffee table book full of other examples to compare it to. Ed was a part of what is often called the Studio Furniture Movement, one of the many threads of American culture that run through Druid Heights.

Stiles Ed workshop ~2009 Bonnie Swift DOE report

Stiles, Ed Shop interior


Somers Roger at Twin peaks House May 1968 from Margo St. James son Don Sobjack


Roger Somers (1926-2001) was the Druid Heights resident most responsible for  the radical transformation of the built environment of the former  Haapa Family homestead. Here he is, dressed in work clothes including a carpenter’s apron, on the west steps of house called variously Muchado (pronounced much a do), The Big House, The Dragon House and The Twin Peaks House. The date on the print is May 1968.

Roger’s son Tagore describes the 1960s as the most significant era at Druid Heights. It would not have been that without Roger. He brought his many well known musician and artist friends to this house and even rented it to Pulitzer prize winning poet Gary Snyder for a few months at the end of the decade when he was working on a big building project near Lake Tahoe.

HIs partner at the time of this photo and the person holding the camera was Margo St. James, best known for her works as a sex workers rights advocate. Save Druid Heights has been sent this and a number of other photographs from her personal collection. They ,  like others we have received, give us a view of a rapidly receding time in a  place where the creative spirit predominated.


It was late winter or early in the spring of 1954 when Elsa Gidlow and her partner Isabelle Quallo ran into Roger Somers and his toddler son Tagore at a picnic in Berkeley, CA. This was not a first meeting, as at least Elsa, and perhaps Isabelle too had previously encountered Roger and wife Mary Somers at one of Alan Watts’ popular classes at the American Institute of Asian Studies in San Francisco.

The chance meeting in Berkeley marked a turning point in all of their lives. Their conversation turned to finding a more secluded off-the-beaten track place to live.  Roger said he knew of such a place. A few days later Roger and Mary visited Elsa and Isabelle at their home in Fairfax, Marin County, CA and described a 5 acre homestead outside nearby Mill Valley with two small houses and several out buildings in an isolated setting.

Soon  a visit was paid to that property, the place that Elsa would come to name Druid Heights based on her friendship with UC Berkeley Celtic Studies Professor Ella Young and her appreciation of the novel Wuthering Heights. It was early spring and Elsa in her autobiography relates that the long road in was still muddy from winter’s rains. But after that visit she decided to take a gamble and partner on the property with a young  couple she hardly knew.



A photo of the 1926 Haapa Family house quite possibly taken during that first visit in 1954 by the soon to be partners. Note the 1940s car and the puddles.  


Roger had the construction skills to renovate the buildings but he and Mary lacked a down payment. They wanted a partner who could supply that. After deciding to take the plunge Elsa went to the bank to take out a mortgage on her Fairfax home to supply the down payment.

She was turned down. It was 1954 and she was an unmarried woman whose income came from her work as a freelance journalist. A few days later she found herself describing her difficulty in securing a loan to a friend, the right friend. Dorothy Erskine  assisted her in getting around the road block set up by the bank by giving her a private loan from her own funds. Later in life Elsa was to do the same for others.

What a change the next 14 years brought about. By 1968 the forlorn landscape and buildings of 1954 had been transformed. Roger had done extensive such work on the buildings, so much so on the former Haapa farmhouse  as to make it nearly unrecognizable outside and even more so in. Gardens begun by the the Haapa family had been greatly expanded. The Stiles Family had joined the community and Ed Stiles had built what was in ’68 known as The Casa Rondo, and later, after the arrival of Alan and Jano Watts the Mandala House.


The former Haapa family home, later aka the Dragon House, the Twin Peaks House, or as it was often called at the time of this photo, 1968, The Big House. But while the high peaked roof projects a sense of big as well as some drama with the roof’s shingle pattern, the actual building foot print is approximately 1000 square feet

By 1979 the last major structure to be erected at Druid Heights, Ed Stiles’ woodworking shop, was finished. Also added during the years between ’68 and ’79 were the circular library built for Alan Watts, the Meditation Hut adjacent to Elsa Gidlow’s house and the guest house adjacent to the Old Chicken Barn aka the Stiles’ house. Each of these buildings typifies different aspects of the unique culture of the era that Druid Heights was both a part of and helped give birth to.

Stiles Ed workshop ~2009 Bonnie Swift DOE report

Ed Stiles’ wood working shop as from the  west circa 2010. From a National Park Service report.


Libray at DH 2003 from DOE by Swift

The Library when last occupied in 2003 from a National Park Service report

Meditation hut frome DOE by Swift

The north side of the Meditation Hut near Elsa Gidlow’s house. From a National Park Service report.

Stiles' Guest House from Swift DOE

The Stiles’ guest house from the north. From a National Park Service report.



While we do not have it’s exact dimensions the Twin Peaks house at Druid Heights is not a large house, and in fact it is really quite small by the standards of your typical American home, which for homes constructed in the US last year was a whopping 2600 square feet. I doubt the Twin Peaks is much more than a third of that. But for such a small house the bathroom, or given its amenities in its final form, Spa, is quite large.
The photo of Margo St. James in this room shows it before the tiled shower was later added where the doors behind Margo are.That photo was sent to us by Save Druid Heights member and 1970s Druid Heights resident David Wills. This is the only photo we have of the “spa” from “back in the day”. The others were taken in 2016.
The bath tub behind the trap door in the floor is visible in the foreground of the full room length photo. Margo St. James position in the room length photo would be immediately in front of the shower at the far end of he room. When the photo with her was taken there was no skylight and possibly no door to the exterior to the right of her.

St. James Margo in dressing room maybe Twin pPeaks but maybe Mandala David Wills photo





What follows is a list of people who either lived at or visited Druid Heights during the years of its greatest cultural significance, 1954, the year when the former the Haapa family homestead was bought by Elsa Gidlow, and Roger and Mary Somers, and 1986, the year that Elsa Gidlow died. I choose an image of musician and singer Louis Armstrong to accompany it as he is the person on the list I was most surprised to discover.
Each person on this list has either personally told me they were there, written in some form such as a published letter or autobiography that they were there, been reported to have been there by some else who was also there at the same time either to me directly or in a published interview such as an oral history or as part of an article appearing in the press.
Louis armstrong in egypt 1961
Actors and Entertainers:
Tom Smothers, comedian and television actor
James Coburn, film actor
Lily Tomlin, comedian and television actor
Peter Coyote, actor, author, director, screenwriter and narrator
Huey Lewis, rock singer and band leader
Louis Armstrong, jazz musician
Dizzy Gillespie, jazz musician
Charles Mingus, jazz musician
Judy Collins, singer and folk musician
Neil Young, singer and rock musician
Steve Miller, singer and rock musician
Quicksilver Messenger Service, rock musical group, one or more members
Fleetwood Mac, rock musical group, one or more members
Charles Lloyd, jazz musician
John Handy, jazz musician
The Kingston Trio, folk musical group, one or more members
Lou Harrison, composer
Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd, jazz band, one or more members
Maria Mulduar, singer
The Doobie Brothers, rock musical group, one or more members
Buddy Guy, blues guitarist
Carlos Santana, rock guitarist and band leader
Elsa Gidlow, poet, journailst and autobiographer
Alan Watts, prose author of works on eastern religion and essayist
Gary Snyder, poet
Betty Friedan, author and activist
Allen Ginsberg, poet
Tom Robbins, novelist
Maude Oakes, writer, ethnologist and artist
Lew Welch, poet
Albert Saijo, poet and prose author
Philip Lamantia, poet
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet
Richard Brautigan, novelist and poet
Nanao Sakaki, poet
Celeste West, writer, editor and activist
Bob Kaufman, poet
Echo Heron, novelist and non-fiction
Jean Burden, poet and editor
Hallie Iglehart Austen, author and feminist
Albert Morse, art historian, author and attorney
Jane Futcher, writer and journalist
Anna Halprin, modern dancer and dance company leader
Imogene Cunningham, photographer
Kermit Sheets, director, playwright and actor
Robert Erickson, nationally know furniture maker with wrok in the Smithsonian Institution Collection
Marcelina Martin, filmmaker and photographer
Gerd Stern, artist and poet
Ed Stiles, furniture maker and inventor of the modern hot tub
Marilyn Stiles, ceramicist
James Mazzeo, painter
James Broughton, filmaker and poet
Detlef Kotzte, sculptor
David Wills, graphic artist and painter
Steve (Nooruddeen) Durkee, painter
Jean “Yanko” Varda, painter and collagist
Mayumi Oda, artist and social activist
Henry Sandy Jacobs, sound artist and humorist
Tom Killion, artist, author, African historian and educator
Barabara Hammer, filmmaker
Jerry Walter, sculptor
Tony Martin, painter and new media artist
Michael Callahan, kinetic artist and tape music medium technologist
Roger Somers, designer and builder responsible for several of the buildings at Druid Heights and numerous other buildings and remodels elsewhere and the complete remodel of a bus for musician Neil Young as well as being an amateur musician who befriended many professional musicians which brought them to his home
Bill Graham, concert promoter
Ram Dass(born Richard Alpert), spiritual teacher, psychologist, and author
Daniel Ellsberg, activist and leaker of the Pentagon Papers
Margo ST. James, sex worker’s rights activist
Catherine MacKinnon, legal scholar
Rona Elliot, television journalist and member of the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
Stewart Brand, founder and editor of The Whole Earth Catalog and the CoEvolution quarterly
Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute
Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher, speaker and writer
Paul Krassner, journalist
John Lilly, psychoanalyst, philosopher and writer
Ronald David (R.D.) Laing, psychiatrist
Mitch Lowe, Co-founder of Netflix
Anagarika Govinda (born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann), expositor of Tibetan Buddhism
Alfred Julius Emmanuel Sorensen( aka Sunnyata), Danish writer, horticulturalist and mystic


At the Laird’s Landing historic site in the Point Reyes National Seashore 30 miles north of Druid Heights the National Park Service (NPS) has decided to remove the additions to the buildings that were made after what has been judged to be the place’s period of principle historic significance, 1890-1910.
LAird's Landing from Pt Reyes Light
At Druid Heights the NPS has set the period of significance from 1954, the year when Elsa Gidlow and the Somers family moved in until 1973, the year when Alan Watts died.
What follows is a brief attempt at imagining what following the example set at Laird’s Landing could mean for the buildings at Druid Heights. As the example of Laird’s Landing clearly shows, this is a possible future for Druid Heights. What the buildings would be used for once such a restoration was complete is an open question.
The four photos of The Mandala House at Druid Heights below are included because they clearly show the exterior of that building as it was in the 1970s and how it looks today. Its restoration would require the removal of some significant additions. Other buildings at Druid Heights would need similar removals of additions or else need to be demolished as they were built after 1973.
The Mandala House and roof, 1970s.


The Mandala House front side and roof, 2009
Mandala from Swift report
Mandala roof tagore?
To imagine this future without getting bogged down in side issues  we need to set aside any thoughts on whether the period of significance at Druid Heights should be extended beyond the year of Alan Watts’ death or whether the loss of later additions to buildings would be tragic. That is a different discussion.
In a nutshell the restoration of Druid Heights to how it was at the end of the 1954-1973 period of significance  would mean the removal of all buildings and additions to buildings made after 1973. Even after all the time the author has spent studying Druid Heights he does not know how old some of additions and smaller buildings at Druid Heights are. But I know enough to have a pretty good sense of what that a return to the 1973 status would entail. Being a retired contractor also informs his opinions.
Before such a restoration was attempted all the buildings would need to be very well documented. It seems likely that given current technologies, besides a physical model of the buildings as they were prior to such a project a virtual model could be created that could allow one to experience them and the site. 
The Mandala House Roger Somers many post-1973 alterations to the Mandala would need to be removed and most if not all the immediately adjacent acccesory structures would need to be demolished because they were not there in 1973. As seen in the photos I have added to this post the Mandala House, originally called the Casa Rondo after being built by Ed Stiles and when it was the home of Thea Gidlow, was originally a much simpler structure and there were few if any of the accessory buildings near it. I will guess that there are more photos of it taken during that time but Detlef Kotzte’s give us an idea of what it would look like on the exterior if restored.
The Library built for Alan Watts The small kitchen and bath at the rear of the library were added after Alan’s death and so would be removed. As I understand it the hot tub below the Library was also a later addition, so it would be removed along with all the plumbing. I am not sure if this was one of the tubs built at Druid Heights by Ed Stiles but even if it wasn’t it is said to be the one that Roger Somers was found to have died in, so I would feel it should be preserved elsewhere at Druid Heights along with other artifacts.
Elsa Gidlow’s House With, perhaps, the exception of some of the decks Elsa Gidlow’s house saw little or no alteration after 1973.
The Meditation Hut This was built for Elsa Gidlow in the early 1980s according to its builder, artist Detlef Kotzte. He has also told us that her intention was to add an extra sleeping space. Given its unique details and small size it seems that breaking with the 1973 cutoff date would be taking a small exception for a significant result. It also suggests that a better end of the period of significance would be the death of Elsa Gidlow in 1986.
The Old Chicken Barn, later the Stiles House There appear to have been some additions made to this house but I don’t know when they’re completed. Comparing the photos of it when it was a chicken barn to the way it is now it appears that they were fairly minor as to the overall size, so it seems likely that not much would need to be removed compared to the Mandala House. I don’t know to what extent there were post-1973 changes to the interior.
The cottage adjacent to the Stiles House As I understand it this was built after 1973, so this would need to be removed. I wince as I write that because though I have seen only one photo of the interior I find the exterior a very beautiful building.
Ed Stiles Woodworking Shop As a wood worker myself i find that between the setting and the workspace within this is one of the most beautiful workshops I have ever seen, and besides the shops I have actually visited i have a coffee table book full of others. But Ed built the shop well after Alan Watts death, so if Druid Heights was to be restored to its 1973 state it would need to be removed. More wincing on my part at the thought of taking down such a beautiful building but I have to be consistent.
Faye’s House This is by far the most complicated building at Druid Heights, by far the most poorly constructed of all the major buildings at Druid Heights and by far the building in the worst shape of all the larger buildings at Druid Heights. Portions of it were certainly there prior to 1973. The most important of those in my opinion would be what was the original workshop and the drafting later music room. I would argue that those two portions should be restored even if that means they need to be rebuilt from ground up because of their importance to the history of Druid Heights and the projects that were built there. Think everything Roger Somers built for installation elsewhere, think Gerd Stern’s sculpture in ’63, and think all of Ed Stiles work from his arrival at Druid Heights in 1965 through his building of his own shop in, I believe, 1978. Especially if Ed’s shop were to be demolished there would need to be a place to tell the story of wood working at Druid Heights. As a wood worker myself I have my biases but I don’t think I am off base on this.
The Twin Peaks House While the most striking details of the Twin Peaks House were built well before 1973 there seem to have been some later additions. The points of the “Peaks” themselves seem to have been extended by Roger Somers fairly late in his life. I have good reason to believe that the tiled shower in the bathroom may have been added after 1973 and that may also be true for the small back bedroom. Like everything I have suggested all would have to be confirmed but the main features of the house would be left intact.
The cottage that includes a remodeled Airstream Trailer According to the NPS the California State Office of Historic Preservation feels that this structure is of significance. I have not seen a written description of this building so I can’t comment beyond saying that if they have come to that conclusion they must have a good reason for it. It is possible that there are other structures at Druid Heights that they have decided similar on. We have yet to view the relevant documents.
The treeless tree fort  There was once a platform built on tall poles at the east end of the central meadow at Druid Heights. It is visible in several photos. Besides being something for kids to play on I have been told that a famous Japanese violinist (still trying to get their name) did a performance for an audience on the ground below once upon a time. Give the structure’s simplicity it seems like a building a replica would be a valuable addition to a restored to 1973 appearances Druid Heights.
The water tank Since the Haapa family’s days at what was to become Druid Heights there has been a large water tank at Druid heights. Even if changes in the water source for Druid Heights were to happen (and that should happen because part of the current water source is the nearby creek) the tank should remain as long as it is still structurally sound. That could be indefinitely if the water is removed and a roof built over the top.
Other small structures  There are other small structures at Druid Heights. Some appear to have been used as dwellings or detached bedrooms and others for storage. They all appear to be in pretty bad shape and many if not all were likely built after 1973, so they would need to be removed.



The picnic location, site 10, Paradise Beach Park, Tiburon, CA

Michael Toivonen, co-founder of Save Druid Heights, is  holding a picnic on Sunday September 22nd from noon until 5 pm at Paradise Beach Park, 3450 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA and is inviting his friends who favor preserving  Druid Heights’ history and architecture for future generations. If that describes you then you are welcome to attend but you will need to  follow the steps bellow.

NOTE: The maximum number of guests is 50. There is a chance this could be revised upwards but that info will only be made available to Save Druid Heights Facebook group members.

FIRST: you need to join the Facebook group Save Druid Heights. In lieu of that you could send Michael an email at that tells him a little about your interest in Druid Heights and why you are unable to join the Facebook group, the preferred method of joining in with others who feel the same. He will cancel the tickets of anyone who does not follow through on this requirement.

SECOND: once you have either joined and been approved for the Save Druid Heights group or gotten a positive response from me to your email you will need to use the Eventbrite  link below to get your name on his guest list, meaning you have signed up for a ticket. Note: those who sign up for the Save Druid Heights Facebook group need to answer a brief questionnaire. You will receive notice of this at signup. This is to prevent abuse of the group, such as by those who want to use it for commercial purposes.

AND CONSIDER THIS: When you sign up for your free ticket to his picnic you will be given the option to add additional guests. Before you do so consider this: He is holding this picnic so his friends who are passionate about Druid Heights can get together. Included amongst those are going to be people connected to Druid Heights who will be able to share some of their experiences there “back in the day”.  While it would be nice if the picnic could be wide open that is not possible and since early indications are that it will fill it would be best if those who come are there for the main reason, not just to have a picnic. An option to consider would be for others to go elsewhere in the park while you spend some time with us, and then join your friend or family member for the balance.

IMPORTANT DETAILS ABOUT THE PICNIC: This is not a potluck. You may certainly bring something to share with others but it is up to you.There will be some basic supplies on hand such as non-alcoholic drinks, paper plates, napkins, & etc. There are two barbecue pits and there will be charcoal and fire  starting supplies for those who want to use them.

Here is the link to the signup with Eventbrite:




If you were around in the ’70s it was hard to miss the Whole Earth Catalog (or Epilog in this later edition). It was physically big and fascinating to “surf”. It has been compared to the world wide web because the catalog’s listings bear comparison to webpages and while called a catalog you could not could not purchase the items from the publisher. There were also scattered articles unconnected to the listings.


Save Druid Heights member and former Druid Heights resident David Wills was on the staff for this and perhaps other editions. And more than one of the other staff members visited Druid Heights. Maybe others lived there as David did…

Be sure to check out our very active Facebook group, Save Druid Heights. Besides often being more detailed than what gets published here our posts often prompt comments that add new details to posts like this one.

Center, Druid Heights resident David Wills.


Some of the Whole Earth Catalog staff, with editor Stewart Brand on the left.


The back cover, including words of wisdom well fitting a unique era.



If Druid Heights was open to the public I, and I am sure some of you, would go there on a regular basis. But since it isn’t, looking at photos will have to do for now, and believe me I have enough on file to keep it interesting.

This photo shows a hall way in the house known variously as The Twin Peaks or just The Big House. Save Druid Heights member and former Druid Heights resident Detlef Kotzte answered on being asked who painted it “Esther Roberts, she was a resident of DH for a few years.”

Once again our Facebook group, Save Druid Heights, has provided the answer by connecting us to those who know best those who have lived at or visited Druid Heights.16996234_10158287638545261_8447108693866955036_n



This is the trail map of near-to-Druid Heights Mt. Tamalpais that would have been used by Druid Heights residents and visitors back in the 1950s on through at least the 1970s and likely later.  Former 1970s Druid Heights resident David Wills has confirmed that it most certainly was what he used. This is a vintage 1950’s edition that belonged to the author’s parents.


This would have been the map that Druid Heights visitor and for a time resident in ’69-’70 Gary Snyder used on his hikes there, and perhaps he laid it on the floor at the Marin-An shack just over the hill from Druid Heights to show Jack Kerouac where they would be going before they went on the hike immortalized by Kerouac in “The Dharma Bums”.

There have been some changes over the years but the principle trails are still there. If you hike out to Portrero Meadows (see the map closeup) you will be where Snyder and Kerouac camped in the late spring of ’56 (note: camping on Tamalpais is only allowed in official campgrounds these days and Portrero Meadows isn’t one of those).

The Dharma Bums even describes what they ate the next day for lunch near Stinson Beach, so you could load up on “salami and Ry-Krisp and cheese……and wine”, the latter almost certainly cheap and red, before hitting the trail. The Mill Valley Market still stands  at the foot of Tamalpais as it did in the ’50s  and you should be able to get what you need there, though they might not have the low grade red……