Next Friday, November 16th, will be the 45 anniversary of the passing of Alan Watts in his home in the Mandala House at Druid Heights on 11/16/1973. By pure coincidence it was on 11/16/2016 that I took a walk through the unoccupied portions of Druid Heights after reading some articles about it online, most notably the New York Times article of 1/25/2012.
I am very glad I went there when it was still possible to enter Elsa Gidlow’s house, The Twin Peaks House and Alan Watts library, and that I took the many photos that I have shared here. On that day I had no inkling of becoming involved with an effort to preserve what I was seeing. That didn’t happen until the following summer after my having viewed the exhibit “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” at the Berkeley Art Museum and met guest curator, exhibit catalog author and our co-founder UC Berkeley Architectural Historian Greg Castillo.
Here is a link to the catalog of that exhibit. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes they had made the exhibit and even those who did. It is simultaneously a great coffee table book full of easy to skim images and a scholarly overview of the subject that includes reproductions of hard to find original source material.
Back to Alan Watts, if any of you feel motivated perhaps you could post something on him this week. I am going to be out of the Save Druid Heights “office” attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference called “Past Forward 2018”, very conveniently being held in San Francisco. I hope to learn more about the nuts and bolts of historic preservation at the workshops I attend as well as meet and talk to people in the field of Historic Preservation. As I understand it my conference name badge will have Save Druid Heights on it as well as Michael Toivonen.
I will also be attending the day and a half symposium sponsored by the US chapter of the International Committee On Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) being held in tandem with the conference. The theme is bridging the divide between those whose focus is preserving cultural heritage and those whose focus is preserving natural heritage. That definitely speaks to the challenges presented by Druid Heights.
Last but not least, I will have some very interesting news next week…….stay tuned!