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


  1. I lived at Elsa Gidlows’ for a month or 6 weeks around 1974. I stayed in what was called the ‘Goat House’ a small one room place with a little sleeping loft, a toilet which was flushed by dumping water into it from a bucket and, it may have had a sink, I can’t quite remember. From looking at the pictures posted on this site, I can only guess that this is the building that was later called the Meditation Hut. The building was just below Elsa’s back deck adjacent to her enclosed garden.

    I stayed there before and after a two or three week tai chi workshop with Al Huang. I have fond, though now gauzy, memories of Ed & Marilyn Stiles, Roger and Faye ( was that her name ? ) and of course Elsa with whom I stayed friends with and also with Ruth Costello who was living down on the Vallejo.

    All Good Wishes,

    Jim Pyle
    Grass Valley, California


    • Hi Jim, Unfortunately the Goat House was torn down by the National Park Service sometime after Elsa Gidlow’s house became vacant circa 2003-2005. I was told the reason was that squatters were using it. Seems strange since there were so many other places for similar activities at DH. Where was the workshop with Al Huang? On the Vallejo? There are pictures of the Goat House on our Save Druid heights Facebook page. Using the search box on the group page with the terms goat house should take you to them—-Best, Michael


  2. According to the interview with Locke McCorckle on July 25th, 2018, noted Bay Region architect Paul Hamilton was also a frequent visitor to Druid Heights.


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