George Lucas & San Anselmo, California

Charlotte and I’s recent trip to Napa, California also included a few days in San Francisco, and you know we had to make sure we checked off a few Star Wars sites along the way. One of our favorite stops was at the Lucasfilm offices to take some pictures in front of the infamous Yoda fountain. During our trip there though, a few LFL employees let us know that we should also take the short trip up to San Anselmo, California to check out Imagination Park, which has its own unique Yoda Fountain. Imagination Park is a cute little pocket park in historic downtown San Anselmo, California that not only has a Yoda statue, but also an impressive Indiana Jones statue too.

Located in the historic downtown, this pitstop started me down a research hole about the history of Imagination Park and George Lucas’s life in San Anselmo: a town he has called home since the early 1970s. I’ve compiled some of that research here, and Charlotte and I also recorded a bonus podcast episode about it if you’d like to hear us chat about it in real time. Listen here! I work professionally as an architectural historian and spend a lot of my days doing deep dives on historic buildings and towns, so this was right up my alley! There are two main pieces of land I’ve conducted research on: Imagination Park and 52 Park Way (George Lucas’s home in San Anselmo). This post works well as a companion to the podcast episode with some historic photographs and aerials. I hope you find this information interesting, and I hope it can showcase a little how every building or piece of land can have a story attached to it!

2021 Google Earth Aerial: Locations of 52 Park Way and Imagination Park indicated in red. Also, unfortunately some of the photo quality is lost when I add notations!

52 Park Way

George Lucas first moved to San Anselmo in the early 1970s with his first wife, Marcia Lucas, after the success of American Graffiti. He has maintained the same property since then and has continued to live at this address ever since. George owns all of the property in this area (also known as Pine Hill) and some properties outside of the Park Way “circle”. This website notes that when George and Marcia moved to the property it was a “Marin landmark” which piqued my interest to see if I could actually find a historic photograph of the house, or any information about its history.

Google Earth Aerial of Pine Hill; everything within the red Park Way “circle” is presumed to be George Lucas’s property.

Two of the properties outside of the Park Way “circle” made local headlines when George sued the town of San Anselmo over easement disputes. Through that research though, came to light two reports that were written about the buildings set to be demolished on these properties. These reports connected the dots of the larger history of the area and its relation to George Lucas for me. This area of land was a part of a 45-acre tract owned by Minthorne Tompkins and his wife Harriot. The Tompkins were a part of a group of some of the first white settlers in San Anselmo. Minthorne built the first two-story estate in San Anselmo in 1870. As the building report notes:

In 1869, Minthorne and Harriot (wife) purchased 45 acres of land east of Red Hill, […] where they had a large house built in 1870, which was the first estate constructed in San Anselmo. […] According to Minthorne’s will, he deeded his entire estate to all six of his children. However, it appears that prior to his death, a portion of the original 45-acres of land, excluding the 1870 Tompkins house (extant), had been deeded to his wife Harriot and was sold in 1918 by her children to the Doherty Co., Inc., who subdivided the land as part of the Sequoia Park residential development. Streets were given names like Cottage Avenue and Bungalow Avenue, representing a particular image of the type of architecture that would be constructed within the subdivision.

Historic Resource Evaluation for the Property at 115 Sequoia Drive, San Anselmo, Marin County, California, Evans & De Shazo Archaeology & Historic Preservation

This lines up with the current location of George Lucas’s property and analysis of the only historic photo of the Tompkins Estate and George Lucas’s home reveal some similarities. Personally, I think the alignment of the second story bay window roof line, the central entrance, and the curved driveway are all good indicators that this could be the same building. Here’s the unmarked photograph of the Tompkins Estate:

Early 20th century photograph of the Tompkins Estate (Source: “San Anselmo” Book by Judy Coy).

Now here’s a marked comparison between the two buildings:

Again, some of the photo quality is lost when I try to add in the notations!

That is my case for George Lucas’s house being the historic Tompkins Estate! There were some other fun stories associated with two of his daughters that I thought I’d add in here. Minthorne Tompkins’ eldest daughter, Emily, married ornithologist Joseph Mailliard in 1881 in a lavish wedding. The couple lived nearby in San Geronimo and had two children together. Suddenly, in 1891, Emily disappeared. After nearly a month long search, and her family fearing the worst, it was discovered that Emily had run away with another man and intended to marry him. She and Joseph divorced and Emily married the man she ran away with…only for it also to end in divorce a few years later. Her third marriage appeared to stick, but after the scandal she never reconciled with her family or saw her two children again. The Tompkins’ youngest daughter, Ethel, is credited with the founding of the Marin Humane Society. The first location of the Marin Humane Society was in San Rafael. According to the organization’s history, “Since there was limited space for housing the animals, Ms. Tompkins also built cages and kennels in her San Anselmo home” (Marin Humane Society). While it’s not definitive, this could be the Tompkins Estate being referenced again.

Imagination Park

Imagination Park is the origin story for this research, and when Charlotte and I first arrived, we did a quick Google search on the park and were interested to learn that George Lucas had owned this land for a number of years and ultimately ended up financing the creation of Imagination Park after a request from the Chamber of Commerce in San Anselmo. On this plot of land, there was historically a commercial building that was constructed in the early 20th century. In the early 1940s, the building is taken over by the Rossi Brothers, who operated the building as a pharmacy until the 1980s. Shortly after opening the pharmacy, the Rossi Brothers commission the artist Jose Moya del Pino to create a mural on the history of pharmacy in 1945.

1919 Sanborn Map; Future location of Imagination Park outlined in red.
c. 1920s “Street Scene” of San Anselmo. The Tower in the middle is the town hall building. The building the far background is the Rossi Bros Drug Store.
c. 1940s Photograph; The Rossi Bros Drug Store is visible in the back of this photo.
1950 Sanborn Map: Just above “San Anselmo Town Hall” is a building labeled “DRUGS”. This is the Rossi Bros. Drug Store!

George Lucas buys the building sometime between 2008 – 2010 with the intent of making it a community center that featured something such as a park, a theater, or even a “ping pong” center. In the summer of 2012, the town of San Anselmo approaches George about donating the land and working with the city to finally realize the community center. They eventually agree to move forward with the park idea and commission two statues to be created: one of Yoda and one of Indiana Jones. Prior to the demolition of the buildings, a historic resources report is written by the San Anselmo Historic Society on the buildings. The report noted that the only thing of significance in the building was the mural by Jose Moya del Pino. George hires a local art conservator to oversee restoration efforts on the mural and to remove the mural from the building prior to its demolition. The mural was donated to the Spanish-United States Foundation and is eventually given to the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco where it is said to be on display today.

2008 Google Street View of the building as it looked around the time George Lucas purchased it.
San Anselmo donor offers town ownership of Imagination Park
Photo of Imagination Park today (Source: Marin Independent Journal).
George Lucas Dedication of Imagination Park on June 20, 2013.

Jose Moya del Piño

Jose Moya del Pino is a Spanish-born American painter who first moved to San Francisco in the 1920s. He painted in the post-impressionist style and is known for his portraits and murals. He taught at the San Francisco Art Students League, San Francisco Art Institute, and the College of Marin. Much of his notable work comes from work he did as a part of the Public Works of Art Project. These include many murals for post offices in the Bay Area (as well as other states), and a mural for the lobby of Coit Tower in San Francisco in 1934. He is buried in San Rafael, California. The Marin Art and Garden Center’s Octogon House is home to the Jose Moya del Pino library.

Jose Moya del Pino | Smithsonian Institution
Jose Moya del Piño (Source: Smithsonian Institute).
1949 Photograph of the mural inside the Rossi Bros Drug Store (Source: San Anselmo Historical Society).

Bonus Facts:

  • George Lucas was a part of the “Miracle Mile” beautification project. The Miracle Mile is essentially a tract of land that followed the old railroad tracks (which were removed) and is now a landscaped median. As a part of this donation, he also purchased a music store that was located along this median in order to move the building and renovate it so it did not have to be demolished.
  • Mill Valley is also known for the Mill Valley Film Festival, which was organized in 1977 and had its first festival in 1978. It is considered one of the top film festivals in the country today and Lucasfilm has been a sponsor for many years in addition to Star Wars characters making frequent appearances at the festival.
Image
Photo from Twitter user @BADroidBuilders from the 2021 Mill Valley Film Festival next to a photograph from the 1982 festival.

Conclusion

There’s not a great way to wrap up this post, but I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these places! As Charlotte and I discussed in the podcast episode, being in San Anselmo added a lot to our understanding and general feelings about George Lucas as a person. Seeing his involvement in his local community through some of this research confirmed for us that this is a place he feels deeply connected to and cares about. If you’re in the Bay Area, it’s definitely worth the short drive up to San Anselmo to see the park and surrounding area for yourself!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment here or email me: caitlin@skytalkers.com!

Sources

The Bad Batch: “Cut and Run” Discussion

Episode 2 of The Bad Batch is here! We break down the latest episode, our favorite parts, more thoughts on Omega and Hunter, and more. 

Click here to download the episode directly!

Further reading:
We recorded this before we became aware of a serious issue raised by fans, which is whitewashing in animation and specifically with the clones here. As white women, whatever we say is just paraphrasing fans of color who have rightfully called attention to this. Check out these links for more information: carrd.co with collected fanworks and info; this thoughtful io9 article.

Click read more for the episode transcript!

Continue reading “The Bad Batch: “Cut and Run” Discussion”

The Best Of The Clone Wars: Episode Guide

We were so excited to have Savanna Oudit of The Dorky Diva show and blog back on Skytalkers this week! Savanna is one of our dearest friends, and we loved getting to chat about all our favorite pieces of The Clone Wars with her. This post includes all of the episodes we discussed in our recent episode with Savanna.

Check out the episode where we discuss all of these Clone Wars episodes in depth, and why we love them so much!

Savanna’s Picks:

The Umbara Arc, Season 4

Episodes: “Darkness on Umbara” (4×07), “The General” (4×08), “Plan of Dissent” (4×09), and “Carnage of Krell” (4×10)

Also be sure to check out Savanna’s fanvid recommendation!

Maul Arc, Season 5

Episodes: “Eminence” (4×14), “Shades of Reason” (4×15), “The Lawless” (4×16)

Landing at Point Rain Arc, Season 2

Episodes: “Landing at Point Rain” (2×05), “Weapons Factory” (2×06), “Legacy of Terror” (2×07), “Brain Invaders” (2×08)

Honorable Mention: The Zygerian Arc, Season 4 (4×11, 4×12, 4×13)

Charlotte’s Picks:

Mortis Arc, Season 3

Episodes: “Overlords” (3×15), “Alter of Mortis” (3×16), “Ghosts of Mortis” (3×17)

The Yoda Arc, Season 6

Episodes: “Voices” (6×11), “Destiny” (6×12), “Sacrifice” (6×13)

“Heroes on Both Sides”, Season 3, Episode 10

Honorable Mention: The Clovis Arc, Season 6 (6×05, 6×06, 6×07)

Caitlin’s Picks

Ahsoka Leaves Arc, Season 5

Episodes: “Sabotage” (5×17), “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much” (5×18), “To Catch a Jedi” (5×19), “The Wrong Jedi” (5×20)

Another sad fanvid for you.

The Onderon Arc, Season 5

Episodes: “A War on Two Fronts” (5×02), “Front Runners” (5×03), “The Soft War” (5×04), “Tipping Points” (5×05)

Holocron Heist Arc, Season 2

Episodes: “Holocron Heist” (2×01), “Cargo of Doom” (2×02), “Children of the Force” (2×03)

Honorable Mention: “The Box”, Season 4, Episode 17

Kintsugi: Transformative Repair (A Meta)

A few months ago, there were Episode IX leaks in the Star Wars community about the return of Kylo Ren’s helmet which have since been proven true through the mural that was unveiled at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, and subsequently through the teaser trailer itself. This was an interesting development because the last time we saw Kylo’s helmet in The Last Jedi, Snoke was ridiculing Kylo, telling him to take that “ridiculous thing off.” Kylo proceeds to smash the mask inside the turbolift, where we last see it in pieces on the ground as he storms away. Rian Johnson has stated that it was actually quite difficult to destroy the mask because its design was so integral to the character’s development in The Force Awakens. He felt it was necessary though as his film sought to begin to understand what was behind the mask.

Click below to read the full meta! Click here for an audio-only version of this meta.

Click to Read the full meta

SPOILERS: That Surprise Cameo in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

**SPOILERS. SPOILERS EVERYWHERE. SPOILERS ON YOUR COMPUTER. SPOILERS IN YOUR EYES. SPOILERS IN YOUR HAIR. SPOILERS IN YOUR CLOTHES. SPOILERS.**

Spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story are below. Read at your own risk!

Continue reading “SPOILERS: That Surprise Cameo in “Solo: A Star Wars Story””

SKYTALKERS IN HOLLYWOOD

It’s been exactly a week since I left for Hollywood to attend the world premiere of the new Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Honestly, I can’t believe I even typed that last sentence. Our adventure in Hollywood was a trip neither Charlotte or I will ever forget, and I wanted to share a few more details from our whirlwind trip out west!

Charlotte and I both flew out a day ahead of the premiere on Wednesday. The last time I flew this far west was my family’s vacation to Hawaii when I was in middle school and I had forgotten how big this country is. Opening my window to see the desert spread out underneath me was amazing – there’s nothing like it on the East Coast!

IMG_1108.jpg
Allow this Georgia girl her desert-plane shot, ok?

Charlotte arrived a few hours after me and once we had our obligatory In-N-Out burgers and shakes we headed over to the Fox theater and finally got to announce that we were in Los Angeles for the Solo Premiere! You can check out that video here if you’re interested.

The next day was premiere day and it would be an understatement to say we weren’t freaking out. We spent the morning with coffees walking around Beverly Hills looking at beautiful houses and trying to keep our cool. Everywhere we looked there was promotional material for Solo, and everything seemed like a good sign that we were in for an amazing night. After walking around we headed over to DryBar to get our hair done for the evening. I’ve never been to DryBar before so it was such a treat to get a little pampering for the big event! Sushi was on the menu for lunch and it was delicious. If you remember our struggles from The Last Jedi premiere (i.e. Charlotte getting sick because we only ate popcorn and cheese sticks the whole day), it was essential we stopped and had a real meal before the festivities began!

Suddenly, it was time to get ready. We slid on those comfy hotel robes and got to work. And by work, I mean face masks, mai tais, and popping in Empire Strikes Back. Aside from the actual event, this was my favorite part of the day: relaxing with my best friend, watching one of our favorite movies, and getting ready for the biggest event of our lives. Both of our outfits took some nods from Star Wars characters: Charlotte had an amazing cape in honor of the original cape connoisseur, Lando. My outfit was inspired by Enfys Nest with the colors and patterns on my dress and jewelry. We recorded a little spot for the show and then we were off to the premiere!

The premiere was everything we could have hoped for and more. I can’t stress that enough: I feel so grateful and humbled that we were invited and able to make everything work out in order to attend this event. It was truly amazing.

IMG_8217.jpg
The Solo Sisters!

IMG_8202.jpg
Nothing like a badge to make you feel legit!

When we arrived we met up with our close friend Savanna Kiefer of The Dorky Diva blog and stood in line to get our badges. Of course Charlotte and I originally went to the wrong line, but we ended up in the right place eventually! They took us into the red carpet space in groups and we were placed in the middle of the fan section. I could not have asked for a better spot to be located. If you were watching the live stream coverage from the Star Wars Show, we were on the right side of the screen next to Andi and Anthony. There are some screen shots friends sent us where you can see us on the live stream, usually on the far right side!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

We probably stood on the red carpet for about 45-minutes before the cast and crew started arriving. Andi and Anthony were already there doing rehearsal and making sure their sound and visuals were all good. There was a small TV were they could monitor the live stream and feed coming in from David Collins on the other side of the red carpet, so from where we were standing, we could actually watch the live stream while being on the live stream. Talk about live stream inception.

Once the cast and crew started coming down the line it was complete chaos and about an hour of straight clapping, screaming, jumping up and down, and yes, even a few tears! Joonas Suatamo was the first person down the red carpet and he was so lovely and kind to everyone. He took so many pictures and got a very special picture with our friends Danielle, and her daughter Sloane. I can’t stop looking at it, it’s too adorable.

IMG_8348
From the red carpet!

Since we were right in front of the stairs that led up to the Star Wars Show stage, anyone getting interviewed by Andi or Anthony had to walk right past us. You better believe we were asking for pictures from anyone we could. We had no chill and no shame in reaching out to shake hands and ask for pictures! Everyone who came down the red carpet though wanted to spend time with the fans and take pictures with everyone. The stand-outs for me were of course Dave Filoni and Rian Johnson.

Guys, you know I’m the biggest Dave fan and I may have had a minor panic attack when he entered the red carpet. He shook our hands and then had to pop onto the Star Wars Show to get interviewed, but promised he’d come back to get a picture with us and he did. I was freaking out. He was the only person we had a minute with to chat and I don’t remember at all what I said but I’m sure it was gushing and incoherent. I posted a little thread about my freak out if you want to see a few more pictures from our meeting.

IMG_1447.JPG
Savanna captured this perfect moment!

Rian Johnson was such a surprise, I don’t think anyone thought he would be there! He brought his usual Rian Johnson charm and it was so great to hear his voice in person?! He had on such a big smile and we got to tell him how much we loved The Last Jedi. 

IMG_8340.JPG
Director, Rian Johnson!

It sounds weird but seeing people in person reminds you that they are real people. They exist outside of TV and computer screens, and move on their own and everything! I know, this is all obvious…but it was fun to see these people we talk so much about up close and in real life. Scroll to the end to see all our other pictures with everyone who walked down the red carpet!

After the Star Wars Show ended their broadcast it was time to start heading into the theater. The only bummer of the whole evening was that we didn’t get to walk through the Millennium Falcon that they had built for the red carpet, we had to walk around it. I wish we could have seen Lego Falcon or the Solo Cup display, but that’s alright! Before we went into the theater they had a little space where you could take pictures with the Solo logo while we waited to relinquish all our digital devices. We placed our cell phones and recorders in the a little pouch that was locked and prevented any recordings or signals. Inside they had free popcorn and drinks that you could just grab at your leisure.

B5D65805-A838-4B2F-9CFF-6A5FCA798D3B
About to head into the theater!

We were seated inside the Chinese Theater which…wow! I have now seen the premiere of a Star Wars movie inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. How cool is that?! All we wanted to do was take pictures of the theater, but of course our phones were all locked up! As fate would have it, we were seated right in front of Courtney from Knights of Rant, and it was so fun to meet her and get ready for the movie to start.

I won’t go into any details about the movie, except that I can’t imagine a better audience that all massive Star Wars fans. I can’t wait to see Solo again in a few weeks! We have a spoiler discussion from that night that will be up once the movie is released, so look out for that! We also have our non-spoiler show up right now!

Once the film was over, we all just took a minute to gush about the film, the experience, and everything else from the night! We said goodbye to all our friends and Charlotte and I took some pictures with the Solo movie poster outside the theater. Sadly, it looked like they had already dismantled the red carpet. As we were walking to go get an Uber home though, we noticed that they still had the Falcon up and were letting people with badges in to take more pictures with it!

Of course we had a time photo shoot with every part of that Falcon and the Solo signs. We had some camera issues so we ended up staying there far too long, but it meant that we ended up being the last people in there and got some great pictures without any background photo-bombers!

IMG_8648-1482912477-1526500057314.jpg

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

After that we headed home and recorded some thoughts for the podcast. We pinched ourselves the whole was there and back out of disbelief it all actually happened. A big thank you to Disney, Lucasfilm, and the entire cast and crew of Solo, for putting together an amazing event that I will never forget! I can’t wait for you all to see Solo so we can all talk about it together.

From our big shot gangster crew to yours, may the Force be with You!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.