Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Halcyon, California is an unincorporated community of approximately 125 acres (0.5 km²) in San Luis Obispo County, California, located just beyond the southern border of the city of Arroyo Grande, at . It was founded in 1903 as a Theosophist 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 People's Temple).
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 ailments including 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 took the moniker "Blue Star", led the Temple as its first Guardian in Chief until her death in 1922. Just afterward, the Blue Star Memorial Temple building, named in her honor and designed by architect Theodore Eisen of Los Angeles, was constructed in 1923. 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 Henry Cowell (see also The Tides of Manaunaun) and 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.
Halcyon today contains fifty-two smallish 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 non-denominational religious society with headquarters at Halcyon. A Temple group was founded in Germany in the late 1920s, another in London in the 1980s, and there are groups in West Africa and Russia as well. 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.
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