Halcyon, California

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Halcyon
Unincorporated community
Halcyon is located in California
Halcyon
Halcyon
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 35°6′12″N 120°35′45″W / 35.10333°N 120.59583°W / 35.10333; -120.59583Coordinates: 35°6′12″N 120°35′45″W / 35.10333°N 120.59583°W / 35.10333; -120.59583
Country United States
State California
County San Luis Obispo
Area
 • Total 125 acres (51 ha)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93421
GNIS feature ID 1660712

Halcyon, California is an unincorporated community of approximately 125 acres (51 ha) in San Luis Obispo County, California, located just beyond the southern border of the city of Arroyo Grande. It was founded in 1898 as a Theosophical intentional community and is the home and headquarters of a religious organization, The Temple of the People (not to be confused with Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple).

The ZIP Code is 93420. The community is inside area code 805.

History[edit]

The Temple of the People was founded in Syracuse, New York in 1898 by William Dower and Francia LaDue, members of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. It was moved to Halcyon in 1903. Dower, who was a medical doctor, and LaDue founded the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium, where all manner of addiction and nervous ailments as well as tuberculosis were treated and which remained open until 1949. Other members of the Temple followed Dower and LaDue to Halcyon from Syracuse, and made their living through farming, poultry, and handicrafts.

Land continued to be acquired by the Temple, whose holdings were at one time much more extensive than present-day Halcyon. A town plan was laid out by the Temple Home Association, which subdivided a portion and sold or leased out home sites. A print shop was established to produce a monthly magazine (which is still published), the Artisan, as well as other Theosophical literature. A general store and post office opened in 1908.

LaDue, who was known in her official capacity as "Blue Star", led the Temple as its first Guardian in Chief until her death in 1922. The Blue Star Memorial Temple building, designed by architect Theodore Eisen of Los Angeles, was constructed in 1923 and named in honor of LaDue.[1] Dower served as the second Guardian until his death in 1937. Pearl Dower served as the third Guardian, during whose tenure the William Quan Judge Library was established, until her death in 1968. Harold Forgostein served as the fourth Guardian until his death in 1990. Eleanor Shumway has served as the fifth Guardian since that time.

Notable persons involved with Halcyon and the Temple include composer and pianist Henry Cowell (see also The Tides of Manaunaun), Irish poet and fiction writer Ella Young, and mystic poet and writer John Varian (1863-1931). Varian's sons Russell (1898-1959) and Sigurd (1901-1961), who spent part of their childhood in Halcyon, invented the klystron, an important microwave amplifier tube, and founded the Varian electronics empire.

Cethil Mallory, member and building contractor, worked on many of the single-family homes in Halcyon with the help of his three sons, John, David, and Roland. They helped to rebuild the Halcyon General Store and post office when it was moved one half block south.

Halcyon today contains fifty-two single-family homes, of which thirty are owned by the Temple, as well as several small buildings used by the Temple, and just over one hundred residents. Almost all residents earn their living outside the community.

The Temple continues to function today as a small. but international theosophical society with headquarters at Halcyon. Weekly services at Halcyon are held on Sundays in the Blue Star Memorial Temple building, as well as a fifteen-minute healing service held there every day at noon.

Chronological overview[edit]

Guardian in Chief

  • 1898–1922 — Francia A. La Due (1849-1922)
  • 1922–1937 — William H. Dower (1866-1937)
  • 1937–1968 — Pearl F. Dower
  • 1968–1990 — Harold E. Forgostein
  • 1990 — Eleanor L. Shumway

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Blue Star Memorial Temple building has an odd, convex triangular plan form: The three outwardly bowed walls of the building meet at right angles and the three apexes are equidistant. The roof has three ridges that meet at the center and one apex of the structure points due west. It is located at 3199 Temple Street, Oceano, California, about 50 meters west of South Halcyon Road.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert V. Hine, California's Utopian Colonies. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1953; pp. 54–57.
  • Paul Eli Ivey, Radiance from Halcyon: A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

External links[edit]