This five-acre plot of land is east and up hill from the Muir Woods parking lot. In 1954, Elsa Gidlow, an unusual, fiercely independent Greenwich Village poet, anarchist and lesbian moved to this rural hillside patch with its few tumble-down frame houses and barns. She named it Druid Heights. It soon became a “beatnik” enclave and party spot for famous freaks. Scores of sculptors, sex rebels, stars and seekers lived or visited there including Gary Snyder, Dizzy Gillespie, John Handy, Alan Watts, Neil Young, Tom Robbins, Catherine McKinnon and the colorful prostitute activist Margo St. James. Too anarchic to count as a commune, Druid Heights became what Gidlow jokingly called “an unintentional community.” Gidlow initially shared the property with Roger Somers and his wife Mary, the couple who had actually found the place. Somers, a visionary house builder and jazz musician, invited wood worker Ed Stiles to install his shop there. Several homes and structures were built or converted by Roger Somers and Ed Stiles. The architecture and construction details were unique. In the 1970s, the U.S. Forest Service upset the natural social balance of shared bohemian poverty, by buying out the property owners. The land is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. All the buildings have been abandoned with one exception. Ed Stiles and his wife have a house and a woodworking shop—they have a lifetime lease.
Want more info? Read the History of Homestead Valley article: