Druid Heights Determined Eligible for National Register

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Landslide

Druid Heights Determined Eligible for National Register

Druid Heights Determined Eligible for National Register
Jan 31, 2019

At a talk given at the Mill Valley Public Library on December 5, 2018, Kristin Baron, an architectural historian with the National Park Service (NPS), announced that Druid Heights has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Late in 2018, the California State Historic Preservation Office issued a letter concurring with an assessment of the site’s historic status, indicating that Druid Heights is eligible for listing in the NRHP at both the state and local levels. The preservation office found that Druid Heights is an important site in the life of Elsa Gidlow and in LGBTQ history, as well as a locally significant architectural ensemble. Reportedly, thirteen of the eighteen extant buildings at the site were labelled as contributing features to the historic property.   

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Druid Heights, Marin County, CA - Photo courtesy National Park Service, 2018

Ms. Baron also made clear, however, that the NPS, which owns the property, does not currently have a management plan in place for Druid Heights, which continues to suffer from deterioration: “At the moment, it’s not top priority, because it’s not public,” she explained, responding to a question from the audience about why the site continues to languish. “We haven’t been able to have time, because we have all these other fires we’re putting out…we haven’t been able to address this.”

The NPS conducted work at Druid Heights in 2016, including documenting several of the buildings. A GIS survey of the site was completed in 2017.

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Druid Heights, Marin County, CA - Photo courtesy National Park Service, 2018

TCLF featured Druid Heights as one of ten listings in its Landslide 2018: Grounds for Democracy, an annual thematic report on threatened cultural landscapes. Located north of San Francisco, California, near Muir Woods National Monument, the wooded hillside tract was the longtime home of poet and groundbreaking lesbian feminist Elsa Gidlow and served as a haven of tolerance, social reform, and creative expression throughout her 30-year tenure there. Now managed by the NPS, the once-vibrant bohemian enclave is largely vacant, its structures suffering from years of neglect. Those interested in the history and stewardship of the site should follow and support the work of Save Druid Heights, a recently formed group dedicated to preserving the cultural legacy and cultural landscape that Gidlow and others left for future generations. The site remains off-limits and closed to the public until further notice from the NPS.