The Cultural Landscape Foundation (CLF) has announced its “Landslide 2012: Landscape and Patronage,” a compendium of 12 threatened/at-risk landscapes. The list explains the history of the landscapes, their conditions today and details about the patrons and organizations that made the landscapes possible. By presenting the list, CLF hopes to inspire a new generation of patrons.
Among the compromised landscaped on the list is Jack London Lake. The lake today is a marsh, and the dam is cracked.
Between 1905 and his death in 1916, novelist Jack London bought 1,400 acres of pastoral and hilly land in the Sonoma Valley of northern California (Glen Ellen) and built “Beauty Ranch.” He made the land a working farm, planted an 80-acre orchard, terraced hillsides for crops, built livestock structures, planted 100,000 eucalyptus seedlings on the nonarable land (there were already madrones, manzanitas, redwoods, and Douglas firs on site), and dammed a creek to create a five-acre, fish-stocked lake with a dock and bathhouse.
Jack London and wife Charmian at the lake on “Beauty Ranch” in 1915. The lake today, part of Jack London State Historic Park, has a cracked dam, is clogged with algae and has a sulfurize smell.
London and his second wife, Charmian, lived at Beauty Ranch until their deaths, his in 1916; her’s in 1955. She bequeathed 39 acres of the ranch to the state. Bit by bit, California State Parks acquired ownership of the entire site and created Jack London State Historic Park. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
In 2006, the Valley of the Moon* Natural History Association established the Jack London Lake Alliance to repair the dam, dredge the lake, and restore riparian areas, but funding ran short. (* “Sonoma” is said to be an Indian name meaning “valley of the moon,” a phrase London used as the title for one of his novels.)
The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s at risk landscapes include:
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Patron: Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
Patron: Colonel Griffith J. Griffith
Patron: Beatrix Farrand
Mount Desert, Maine
Hannah Carter Japanese Garden
Patron: Edward Carter
Patron: Walter and Marion Beck
Patron: Julia Isham Taylor
New York, NY
Jack London Lake
Patron: Jack London
Glen Ellen, Calif.
Patron: Robert Moses
Nasher Sculpture Garden
Patron: Raymond and Patsy Nasher
Patron: Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation
Patron: Army Corps of Engineers
Patron: Theodore F. Thieme
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Charles Birnbaum, FASLA established the Cultural Landscape Foundation in 1998.
For more information about the landscapes, visit http://tclf.org/annual-spotlight/landslide-2012-landscape-and-patronage