Saving Stegner’s studio


Stegner in his studio

Wallace Stegner lived on the slopes off Page Mill Road, in Los Altos Hills, for 50 years until his death in 1993.  He did much of the carpentry himself on the home he bought in the 1950s, before there was water, electricity, or a road.  He built the studio in the mid-1960s.

“Just about every major book that he wrote was written in that study,” his biographer Jackson Benson says.

Now the bulldozers are headed that way, and the Pulitzer Prizewinning author’s fans are making a last-minute bid to save the studio where he penned Angle of Repose. Don’t bother trying to find the studio on 13456 South Fork Lane: It’s not visible in any readily accessible way.  The only way to get to it would be to wade through poison oak across private property.

In Los Altos Hills...

From an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“It sent a bolt of sadness through our hearts because there are so many wonderful memories associated with it,” says Lynn Stegner, wife of Page Stegner, the only child of Wallace and Mary Stegner. “The part that kills me the most is Wally’s study. It’s a separate building with a rare blue oak tree in front of it. I’m hoping they don’t tear it down because he treasured that tree.”

The tree’s fate is not determined, but the studio’s is. It will be scrapped, along with everything else, and that might be the most regrettable loss to the Peninsula’s literary history since Ken Kesey‘s cottage on Perry Lane in Menlo Park met a wrecking ball in the 1960s.

The current owners want to raze all the buildings on the site and construct a new 7,337-square-foot home with a 3,647-square-foot basement and a 240 square foot swimming pool.  But they appear to be open to the idea of moving Wally’s workplace.

According to the San Jose Mercury:

“I think people would appreciate the studio as a place where they could go to remember (Stegner) and be able to look at memorabilia and photographs,” Alice Sakamoto, the author’s longtime neighbor, said in an email. “Also, because he was instrumental in the formation of this town, I think preserving the studio is something we should try to do.”

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2 Responses to “Saving Stegner’s studio”

  1. Elena Danielson Says:

    The Russians preserved Pasternak’s rustic house in Peredelkino, kept that certain aura there among his worn-out dictionaries and his father’s sketches. The Japanese have turned Lefcadio Hearn’s small home and miniature gardens into a hushed shrine in Matsue. Hearn’s eye glasses carefully saved, from a nearly blind writer with vision.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Sad that things come to this where important places are even THOUGHT of being bulldozed. Oh, today’s society.