How it all began
The legacy of Jack London includes an extraordinary literary output of over fifty books, hundreds of stories and thousands of articles, letters and compositions. Equally extraordinary in their own way are the several hundred acres of dramatically improved ranch land that London left behind along with his partially fulfilled dreams of making the dead soil live and produce again. Visitors from throughout the world have been excited by this part of his legacy when they have beheld what now remains of the Jack London Beauty Ranch nestled on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain overlooking the fabled Valley of the Moon. And when, during peaceful strolls through the ranch, they grasp London's message from the past, it is with concern that they mark the physical deterioration evident in the author's buildings. What was once so full of life now appears to be in a state of serious decline.
In 1979, entering an era of slashed operating budgets which is still with us today, the park was expanded to 803 acres, adding hiking and riding trails, picnic grounds, and the Beauty Ranch headquarters - - a dozen buildings including the Cottage where London wrote many of his last books and where he died in 1916. Because of these continuing budget constraints, the State Park System has accumulated a large backlog of projects desperately needing restoration work - and among them is the Jack London Beauty Ranch.
How long can we afford to ignore the urgent need to restore and preserve the stone rubble that once was Jack London's dream and that now is a heritage for our children and their children after them? To wait much longer may be to wait in vain!
What has been done already. . .
1988 General plan for park approved
1989 $400,000 raised by Calif. State Parks Foundation for London campaign
1990 Enclosed rear porch and dining room fireplace removed from Cottage; Roland Miller Associates hired to draw reconstruction plans, engineering studies and cost estimates
1991 Phase 1, six-month- long restoration of wood frame building exterior and half of interior started by the Woodbury Building Co. of Santa Rosa.
1992 Phase 1 completed in May
1993 Valley of the Moon Natural History Association funds Phase 2 to complete some interior display rooms
1994 Phase 2 completed; Cottage garden reconstruction begun.
In 2005, funding was received to complete the restoration, upgrade the air conditioning and heating system, improve earthquake protection and furnish the cottage with artifacts and furniture to create and appearance as the cottage might have looked when the Londons returned from one of their many trips.
In 2006, the restoration was completed and the cottage was opened to visitors on week-ends.
In 2007, a major fund raising effort was started to save Jack London's lake.
Over the years, the lake and dam built by Jack London has become silted. The dam is in a state of deterioration and must be repaired. The lake must be dredged and trees and bushes which have encroached on the lake's edges, must be cut back.
You can learn more about the lake project at www.jacklondonlake.org.
Why YOUR help is needed . . .
"If we redeem the land, it will redeem us," is Jack London's message to us. Once restored, Jack London's Beauty Ranch will throb with life anew! Festivals will come to recreate the spirit of times past, and they will be joined by a range of other special interpretive and educational events and opportunities.
In a restored Cottage dining room, always the focal point of social activity on the ranch, fiction readings will again grace the tapa cloth-covered walls where artists, poets, philosophers, tramps, boxers, and celebrities from every corner of the world once shared in the exciting and vital life on the Beauty Ranch. Field seminars and writing workshops sponsored by organizations like writers' clubs and Jack London study groups will further enhance the park visitor's experience by stimulating the creative process mastered by London in his den and on the sleeping porch. The green eye shade will hang again on the brass bedstead, and the tiny night stand crammed with books and agricultural bulletins will still hold the dingy ashtray full of cigarette butts. And imagine the delight of the students who with their classmates can experience "environmental living" as it once was on this one-time "model farm" that we know as Jack London's Beauty Ranch.
The restoration has begun and much has been completed, but much, much more work is needed to reverse the decline of the Beauty Ranch before it is too late - before the wind, and the rain, and the ravages of time and neglect cause us to lose forever the opportunity for those future visitors and students who, with imagination and vision, seek to commune with the innovative mind of Jack London.
If the Jack London Beauty Ranch is to be preserve and restored for those of us who love it, it is only proper that it be accomplished by those of us who love it. If you can remember as a schoolchild the excitement and adventure you experienced reading the stories by Jack London - and if you thrill to them still - you can help pass that legacy on to others throughout the world who will follow you. Please help!
Your Donation in any amount big or small is needed NOW!
Please send your Donations to:
JACK LONDON Ranch Restoration Fund
Valley of the Moon Natural History Association
2400 London Ranch Road
Glen Ellen, California 95442
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