As the “illegal” handmade houses on John Wickett’s land attracted the attention of the local press, reporters made the difficult trek to the 4,400-acre Skyline property. Besides Kendall Whiting’s famous five-story- tall treehouse, reached by a rustic “outdoor elevator”, the men and women carrying reporter’s notebooks jotted down other activities they observed–silkscreening, glass blowing and pottery-making.
“There were lots of babies and children and cats. Lots of construction,” John Wickett told me. He said that the creative builders “ripped up parts of the old sawmill and used the wood to make little houses inside of bigger houses.”
Of course all building codes had been ignored. “Nothing had been done with building codes,” Wickett noted. This only caused the district attorney’s office to redouble their efforts to get the young free spirits off the property.
But time was still on John Wickett’s side.
While searching for a solution, John invited his son, Jim–then a student at Menlo College–to spend a summer on the Skyline land. He told Jim, “You can be helpful and get things a little bit organized. We’ve got all these materials that people are building their houses with…Maybe you could supervise a bit.”
Young Jim Wickett was so successful at his task that he stayed on after the school summer break was over. He still had much to straighten out as publicity about the place had reached far and wide. Strangers continued to arrive in caravans of day-glo painted school buses. Others camped out on the property and what was once pristine was now being threatened.
“It started becoming too much,” John Wickett said.
…To Be Continued…