I you’re looking for something, enjoyable, educational and fun to do, consider making a visit to Jack London State Historic Park in Glenn Ellen, just outside the historic town of Sonoma in glorious Sonoma County. This excellent facility is in the California State Park system, having been given to the State by Charmian London, Jack London’s second wife.
Many people are unaware that Jack was far more than the author of adventure stories. He was a true Renaissance man. In addition to his writing, he was a photographer, being fascinated by this new art form, an impassioned horseman and sailor, he was an innovative agriculturist, and of course he embraced a lifelong concern for the welfare of his fellow man. You will come away from a visit to his Beauty Ranch in Glenn Ellen with a far deeper understanding of the man himself and his impact on society.
Most prominent of the things to see are the ruins of Wolf House, and The House of Happy Walls. The house of his dreams, Wolf House, Jack designed himself. It was built with volcanic rock quarried on the ranch and redwood milled there as well. Unfortunately, Wolf House burned to the ground just days before the London’s were to move in. It is said that the occurrence broke Jack’s spirit and started his decline.
The official story is that the fire was started by some paint rags that workmen had left in a corner. My parents, who knew him, always felt that it was the result of an act of arson by some of his Socialist friends who felt he had become a bit to comfortable.
The House of Happy Walls, is the classic arts and crafts style home that Charmian built after his death. It is an excellent museum and monument to this true Renaissance man and valuable California folk hero.
Besides the beauty of the venue, it’s historic and cultural value, there is a summer long schedule of entertainments and activities, including “Broadway Under the Stars.”
This gem in the crown of California’s State Parks is always worth a visit.
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