Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Glen Ellen in Sonoma County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Jack London Historical State Park

 
 
Jack London Historical State Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
1. Jack London Historical State Park Marker
Inscription. This is the "House of Happy Walls", built by Charmian K. London in 1919 in memory of her husband, Jack London, renowned author. Here are housed many of his works and the collection gathered in their travels throughout the world. Charmian's house, the ruins of Jack's "Wolf House", and his grave were presented to the State of California in 1960 by his nephew, Irving Shepard.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 743
Dedicated by the California State Park Commission in cooperation with the citizens of Sonoma County
September 24, 1960

 
Erected 1960 by California State Park Commission. (Marker Number 743.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the California Historical Landmarks, and the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 38° 21.393′ N, 122° 32.453′ W. Marker is in Glen Ellen, California, in Sonoma County. Marker can be reached from London Ranch Road one mile west of Arnold Drive. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Glen Ellen CA 95442, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Charles J. Poppe Building (approx. 0.9 miles away); Glen Ellen Cannon (approx. 0.9 miles away); Kenwood Depot
House of Happy Walls with Marker (Visible Between Two Windows on Right) image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
2. House of Happy Walls with Marker (Visible Between Two Windows on Right)
The House of Happy Walls was built for Charmian London in 1919, and she lived here during the latter part of her life until her death in 1955. The building is now a museum housing much of the Londons' memorabilia.
(approx. 3.8 miles away); Lachryma Montis (approx. 5.8 miles away); Depot Hotel – Cucina Rustica (approx. 6.1 miles away); Salvador Vallejo Adobe (approx. 6.2 miles away); Swiss Hotel (approx. 6.3 miles away); The Sonoma Cheese Factory (approx. 6.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Glen Ellen.
 
More about this marker. The marker is mounted on the wall to the right of the entrance to the House of Happy Walls. The house itself is located some 400 feet or so uphill (follow the marked trail) from the eastern edge of the park's lower parking lot.
 
Also see . . .
1. Jack London SHP. The California Department of Parks and Recreation's webpage for Jack London State Historic Park, with a description, pictures, and directions to the park. (Submitted on December 1, 2009.) 

2. London's Experimental Ranch. JackLondon.net's series of web pages on the Jack London's Beauty Ranch, including a detailed history and pictures, as part of their wider efforts to portray the personal and literary life of the author. (Submitted on December 1, 2009.) 
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicCemeteries & Burial SitesNotable Persons
 
Note of April 28, 1938 by Charmian K. London , on Display in the Museum image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
3. Note of April 28, 1938 by Charmian K. London , on Display in the Museum
In case of my death, it is my wish that my home, "House with Happy Walls" is not to be lived in by any one except a care taker. The building & its arrangements are peculiarly an expression of myself and its ultimate purpose is that of a museum to Jack London and myself. It can be used for the purpose of revenue.
House of Happy Walls - Dining Room image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
4. House of Happy Walls - Dining Room
The Jack London Ranch Has Been Designated a Registered National Historic Landmark image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
5. The Jack London Ranch Has Been Designated a Registered National Historic Landmark
Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 29, 1962):
On this site stand the ruins of Wolf House (1913) and the House of Happy Walls (1919), as well as the graves of John Griffith London and his wife, Charmian. "Jack" London (1876-1916), the most popular novelist and short story writer of his day, wrote passionately and prolifically, drawing from his first-hand experience at sea or in Alaska or in the fields and factories of California; between 1900 and 1916 he completed 51 books, hundreds of short stories, and numerous articles on a wide range of topics.
. {Marker is located at the east end of the lower parking lot.}
Additonal Marker - Jack London Ranch image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
6. Additonal Marker - Jack London Ranch
Jack London, noted writer, traveler and lecturer, occupied these premises from 1905 to 1916. Born San Francisco, January 12, 1876. Died here, November 22, 1916.

"The Valley of the Moon", one of his best known books, is descriptive of this valley. Erected by Historic Landmarks Committee

Native Sons of the Golden West, June 9, 1940

{Marker is located at the east end of the lower parking lot, at the start of the trail up to the House of Happy Walls.}
London's Dream House: Architect Albert Farr's Rendering of Wolf House Before Construction image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
7. London's Dream House: Architect Albert Farr's Rendering of Wolf House Before Construction
{From the interpretive sign}: Construction began in 1911. Influenced by the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake and firestorm, London worked closely with architect Albert Farr. The rustic, fireproof design used local volcanic rock and unpeeled redwood mounted on a concrete foundation that could hold a 40 story building.

The four-story, 15,000 square foot house commanded a view of the Sonoma Valley. Its 26 rooms and 9 fireplaces cost about $50,000 and included such modern conveniences as hot water, heating, electic lighting, and refrigerating and vacuum cleaning plants.
Wolf House Ruins image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
8. Wolf House Ruins
{From the interpretive sign:} Tragically, a month before the Londons were to move in - August 22, 1913 - a fire probably caused by spontaneous combustion destroyed the home. "It was a very quick fire", said a devastated London. "The walls are still standing, and I shall rebuild." But suffering from poor health, London never recovered from the blow. Three years later, at the age of 40, he died of kidney failure.
Wolf House - Unidentified Guests Admire the Courtyard, Summer 1913 image. Click for full size.
1913
9. Wolf House - Unidentified Guests Admire the Courtyard, Summer 1913
The Wolf House Courtyard Today image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
10. The Wolf House Courtyard Today
Beauty Ranch - Jack London's Model Ranch and Farm image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
11. Beauty Ranch - Jack London's Model Ranch and Farm
In 1905, London originally bought the first 129 acres in the area as a place to live and write in. However, by 1913 he had expanded his holdings to over 1,300 acres, determined to create a model farm, using techniques that many today would consider a part of sustainable agriculture.

In the foreground are a type of Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus, developed by Luther Burbank, that were grown on the ranch as cattle fodder. In Hawaii, London had seen well-fed cattle that had cactus as part of their diet. London's experiment failed, as there were more efficient fodder crops.

In the back ground, left to right, are the stable (formerly the sherry distillery for the Kohler and Frohling Winery, built 1884), a building for processing and holding manure, and a barn for London's thoroughbred Shire stallions.
The Silos image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
12. The Silos
These silos, completed in 1913 and 1915 and built of hollow-core cinder blocks, were the first of their kind on the West Coast, storing corn silage for feeding cattle and pigs.
The Cottage - Rear View image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
13. The Cottage - Rear View
In 1911, the London's bought the former Kohler-Frohling Tokay Ranch buildings, including this one, which became The Cottage. Of the three houses in the state park, this is the only house in which Jack actually lived.
The Cottage - Jack London's Study image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
14. The Cottage - Jack London's Study
{Per the interpretive sign:}"...Six days a week he was up early, often by 5:00 a.m., working on his latest story and writing at least a thousand words before sharing the midday meal with Charmian and their guests."
The Cottage - Jack London's Sleeping Porch image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
15. The Cottage - Jack London's Sleeping Porch
It was here that Jack was found unconscious on the morning of November 22, 1916. He died later that evening, with the cause of death listed as uremic poisoning due to kidney failure.
Jack and Charmian London's Gravesite image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
16. Jack and Charmian London's Gravesite
{Per the interpretive sign:}"On November 26, 1916, in a silent ceremony, Charmian London placed her husband's ashes on the chosen knoll under this stone. After she passed away in 1955, Charmian's ashes were also laid to rest here."
The Cottage - View from the Porch image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, November 28, 2009
17. The Cottage - View from the Porch
Vineyards, formerly owned by Jack and now held by some of his descendants, border The Cottage grounds and provide a golden backdrop to the park during late fall.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 2,388 times since then and 39 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement