Frogwood History

This is a brief history of the property known as “Frogwood”. (Frogwood Location: 22201 Mountian View Road, Boonville, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California, USA, North America, Planet Earth, Milky Way  Galaxy…)  The stories, history, dates, published reports, etc. were mainly collected between 2002 to 2010 by the Frogwood staff.  This historical collection has always been considered a work in progress, and surely most of the history details (especially information dating back tens of thousands of years pre-1965). Some of the information is incomplete and/or may be inaccurate.

Pre-1965 History
We don’t have any specific knowledge of what was going on at the land now referred to as Frogwood before 1965, but according to the Anderson Valley Historical Society, the land is part of the Tabahtea (Tah-bah-tay) Pomo Territory of Native Americans.  There are  several different language groups and “tribelets” in the greater Pomo tribe, and the Tabahtea Pomo lived in the Boonville area west to Navarro and spoke the Northern Pomo language. 

The Pomo of the area are said to have had nineteen known village sites, with an estimated population of around 600 in 1855. The four major villages were “Late” (Lah-tay) on the west bank of Rancheria Creek, about one mile west of Yorkville, “Lemkolil” (Lem-ko-lil) on the northeast bank of Anderson Creek one mile downstream from Boonville, “Tabate” (Ta-bat-ay) on the northeast bank of the Navarro River two miles west of Philo, and “Katuuli” (Ca-tool-i) fifty yards south of the old town of Christine, near the present day Christine woods south of Navarro.

According to one source, the typical Anderson Valley Pomo villages were very small (might contain 20 to 30 individuals probably all from the same family). They built houses of brush or redwood bark, often using willow for the framework. These houses were usually for the women and children. The men stayed communally in a larger men’s or “Fire” house.

Larger villages, of up to 300 people, usually had a large ceremonial house often referred to as a “round ” or dance house. It was in these “round ” houses that people from all the surrounding villages would gather for weddings, seasonal ceremonies, and other social events.

Anderson Valley Pomos moved according to the seasons. They stayed in their main village sites during winter months and moved to outlying camps at appropriate times for hunting, fishing, and gathering of acorns as well as other foods and materials. Many varieties of clover, miner’s lettuce, and even the new growth tips of fir trees were gathered. Seeds from flowers and grasses were gathered for Pinole (ground up grass seeds). Many varieties of nuts and berries and even wild grapes were available. Roots and tubers such as Indian potato and wild onion were dug in the fall. After the first rains, acorns from the tan oaks were collected, dried, and stored in large quantity.

The native people also depended heavily on acorns, venison, and fish. Some archeologists examining the ancient village sites say the ancient economy was “salmon, salmon, salmon.”  In the fall before the rains many Pomos went to the ocean to gather seaweed, shell fish, fish, seal meat, and salt. Returning to their villages, they often set fires that cleared the forest of underbrush and also helped to control the bugs that could infest acorns.

The Pomos were excellent hunters and trappers, using many techniques to take their prey, most commonly the bow and arrow and basket-weave traps. Woven fish traps were extensively used, and quail were caught in woven traps sometimes fifteen feet long. Hunting was done far from the villages, to keep animal life around the villages abundant.

The Tabahtea (from the Taa-Bo-Tah, meaning “Long Valley” and now called Anderson Valley) created a very complex religious and social life, including an elaborate money and counting system. They traded for clams from Bodega Bay which they then fashioned into money by cutting the clams into pieces, drilling holes so beads of shells could be inserted, and then grinding the clam shell into beautiful smooth, round beads which were then strung on necklaces of usually two hundred beads. The Pomos also created very beautiful and complicated dance regalia used in ceremonial and social gatherings.

The Pomos are also renowned for their excellent baskets, considered by many to be among the finest in the world. Ranging in size from huge 4-5-foot storage baskets to miniature baskets no bigger than the tip of your little finger, they were both utilitarian and objects of beauty, often given as gifts within the community. These baskets were used for carrying, gathering and cooking, and were so tightly woven they would hold water.

In 1849 the California gold rush brought a great influx of white Americans and Europeans into Pomo territory, creating great pressure on the native people and tragically, resulting in quickly diminishing populations. By 1900 there were few Native Americans left in Anderson Valley. Some died from communicable diseases to which they had no immunity; others were forced to relocate to reservations, first on the coast, and then most likely in Covelo.  Today many Pomos still live near their ancestral homes in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma Counties.

Bear Wallow Resort
In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, a man named Dino Carpenter owned 900 acres along Mountain View Road, which included the 40 acres that is now Frogwood and additional huge tracts of the surrounding mountainside and canyon land. In 1965, Dino built and started Bear Wallow Resort, catering mostly to gay men from San Francisco. He constructed the spectacular three-story Lodge building, the swimming pool, and seven cabins, where mostly weekend visitors would come up from the Bay Area, rent a cabin, and party or relax at Bear Wallow.  

“The Bear Wallow” (above) fills up each winter and is home to a variety of aquatic organisms. Bear Wallow Resort and Bear Wallow Creek at the bottom of the canyon were both named after this small pond and wetland at the top of the property. 

Local journalist, Bruce Anderson wrote the following in his paper, The Anderson Valley Advertiser: “If memory serves, and it serves less and less well, when I landed in Boonville in 1970 I remember hearing that Bear Wallow was a gay resort.” Dino apparently liked to play bridge in the main lodge, and at least one wedding was held there (probably many). 

Compost College
In September of 1971, Dino invited the (roughly 30) members of a small counter-culture commune called Compost College to move onto his land. They occupied the land just to the east of Frogwood for almost one year (September 1971- Fall 1972). Richard B. Seymour was a founder and resident of the commune, and he tells about its history in his book: Compost College: Life on a Counter- Culture Commune (Walnut Creek, CA: Devil Mountain Books, 1997. 167 pp. $15.95) 

Bonard Wilson was the founder of Compost College, and his vision was gathering together a group of educators and students into what he called an experimental, coeducational, student-centered college. Life at Compost College is perhaps better described on the back of Seymourís book, which says the members, a motley bunch of college students, teachers, administrators, and drifters, dreamed about a better way of life.Their experience on the road to community, living through hazardous times under primitive conditions, was painful but filled with moments of joy and beauty. 

A man named Rainbow, who still lives in the Anderson Valley, was a member of a band that played for the Compost College folks in their earliest days, and he was the one who came up with the name Compost College. He recounted that residents lived in tepees and “plastic wickiups” (see historical storytelling Voices of the Valley book #4). Seymour describes one of the shelters as ìbuilt of cardboard, sticks, and polyethelene plastic, with a home made wood stove.  In the fall of 1972 Compost College basically dissolved when most members moved on.

Some composters remained and began renting from Dino, living on various parts of the land, including Rainbow, who apparently built a cabin along Honey Creek, which runs into Bear Wallow Creek at Mountain View Road, just down the road from Frogwood.  By 1976, for some reason, Dino decided to get out of the Resort business and sell Bear Wallow.   

This old sign from Frogwood’s earlier days was recovered from a trash pile in 2003 by Frogwood archaeologists.  

Bear Wallow Bar & Grill / Resort
Bear Wallow was sold to Bob and Roxanne Hedges in 1976.  They ran the place as sort of road house bar and grill with cottage rentals.  Serving up steak was their specialty, and many locals who were around in the late seventies and eighties remember going to Bear Wallow on a Friday or Saturday night specifically for steak dinners.  Jim Snyder, a Boonville resident remembers dining with his family up at Bear Wallow when he was a child, and he recalled that it was “like a steak house…” 

This picture of the Bear Bar was taken in the 1970s or 1980s. 

Here is an entry from a travel guide: “Bear Wallow Resort (707-895-3335) is four miles west of town on Mountain View Road with one and two-bedroom cabins set in the redwoods. Prices are moderate, including the cost of meals served in the Dinner House restaurant ($ to $$). The restaurant is closed during winter months.” 

Bob Hedges preparing to cook up some steak in the Lodge kitchen. 

Bob and Rox wrote about their experience at Bear Wallow:    “As sole proprietors, we were responsible for all of the food and beverage service, maintenance on the lodge and all of the cottages, and their utilities. This was the mountains again, so all of the skills that we had learned before were needed even more as we fixed everything that broke, from plumbing, electrical, appliances, roofing, flooring, septic and water delivery systems, to deflated soufflés in the kitchen and sob stories at the bar.  We did it all…  We sold our Resort in 1990 and discovered Oregon. The Grants Pass area is much like Mendocino County, so we felt right at home.” 

Bob and Rox Hedges ran Bear Wallow from 1976-1991.   In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the lodge (the “Bear Bar”) had lounge areas and a pool table. A bear tapestry hangs above the fire.  Bruce Anderson wrote: “…Bob and Roxanne Hedges turned it into a getaway destination for urbs and a night spot complete with a bar upstairs in the main building over the restaurant for the rest of us.  I remember a famous fight in the bar one night where the two guys had each other in mutual choke holds so intense poor old Bob couldn’t separate them until they both decided to break it off before they died of asphyxiation and leaped off the balcony into the swimming pool.  Lots of exciting things happened on the premises, most of them unprintable.”  The Lodge swimming pool in the 1970s or 1980s.

   Bob Hedges behind the lodge Bear Bar in early 1980s.  

One former visitor to Bear Wallow recalled her experience fondly:  ”We visited the resort at least four to five times a year from 1980-1987. A lot of wonderful times were spent in the cabins, and exploring the forty acres surrounding them. We could get away from telephones, TV’s and spend time with the ones you loved without interruption. There was a very nice couple who owned and ran the resort, but I can’t remember their names.  The food they served at the lodge was incredible! The menu constantly changed but guests were always offered a choice of beef, poultry, fish, or a pasta dish. I explicitly remember the chicken breast entrée, for one thing it was absolutely divine! The chicken breast was stuffed with a combination of Monterey Jack and spinach, smothered with more Monterey Jack and Mushrooms. I have eaten a lot of food in my life, so the memory should wane with time, but never does.  

All the cabins had names the Mountain Air, Eagles Nest… The pool was sparkling! There was nothing better than spending the day by the pool in the mid of summer reading a book, surrounded by all those beautiful redwoods. We always hated to leave and longingly looked forward to returning.    I remember the bar upstairs, there was also a pool table. The bar had about four – five bar stools and there were 7 cabins ranging in size. It didn’t matter what cabin you stayed in they were all great, my personal favorite was called “Eagle’s Nest” because of it’s location. They always had bottle of chardonnay chilled in ice and a bottle of cabernet sitting on the table as you first entered the cabin for your enjoyment. Each cabin had it’s own refrigerator and they included a basket full of snacks and goodies in case someone got the late night munchies.  All guests paid in advance by check, the owners boasted once during a conversation at the bar that they had never had a cancellation. I remember that I always had to make reservations way in advance because to my dismay, if I forgot, they would be booked.  I lived in Marin at the time, and it was such a lovely drive to Booneville plus a great escape. I’ve obviously never forgotten the wonderful times spent there.” (Thanks to J.J. for these memories!) 

Quest School
In 1991, when Bob and Rox signed a lease agreement (with an option to buy) with the founders of the Quest School, they probably didn’t know what they were in for.  After the school finally closed in 1996 or ’97 (and the lessors were never able to exercise their option to buy), Bob reported a huge amount of trash and clutter had been left.  It took him many months and many dumpsters full of trash and salvaged junk to clean the place up.   This wooden sign, apparently made by a Quest student, was found in 2003 under an old burn pile by Frogwood archaeologists. 

But the Quest School did operate on the land for about 6-7 years (1991-97).  One announcement from late 1991: “Quest in Boonville Moving to New Facilities… Robin Harris, Co-Director of Quest in Boonville, California reports they are moving to new facilities eight miles away and the new facilities are an improvement over what the school has been using. The mailing address and phone number will stay the same. The School is limiting its enrollment to 16 boys, ages 6 to 18, and as of late July, still had a few open spaces.”  The tiny private first through twelfth grade school was reportedly co-ed for 2 years then was boys-only for three years, and then it went back to co-ed one year before closing. 

Local journalist, Bruce Anderson, remembered Quest as “a boarding school for wacky rich kids that eventually fell apart amidst the inevitable barrage of perv accusations.”  One long-time student at the school remembered that there were about 23 kids attending at a time (possibly an exaggeration).  He said they lived unsupervised in their own cottages.  “That’s why the cabins got so trashed,” he recalled.  The Quest school was owned and operated by a couple named Robin & Donna Harris (who apparently lived in the double-wide trailer now called Venus), and their daughter and son-in law were teachers, administrators, and maintenance custodians, etc., who lived in the cottage now called Spiral). 

The website “struggling teens.com” reviewed the school in 1993 and posted the following: “QUEST   707-895-2613   Boonville, California 95415 Co-Director: Mr. Robin C. Harris. Quest is a nonsectarian school for 16 boys, ages 6 to 18, focusing on those students whose needs “fall between the extremes of the College Preparatory school and the Residential Treatment program.” They prefer to work with “families in which the student is willing to make a commitment to growth and change.” They are a 9-month program following the traditional school year with a one month summer program. They are most comfortable with 12-15 students.

The following comes from the school’s philosophy statement:  “Many of our children are failing to live up to the hopes and expectations of the adults they once tried so desperately to please -especially in the classroom. Some no longer try. For whatever reason -because they are no longer motivated to achieve or because their learning style and pace is different from that of their classmates -they do not measure up. Some demonstrate behavior difficulties as well, and many are now in a vicious circle. Did their learning and behavior difficulties have their genesis in a poor sense of worth, or is their low self-esteem a result of their feelings of frustration, helplessness and failure? Who can say where it all began. At Quest, we know that whatever the source of the problem, our job is to help them break out of the circle -to help them realize that they have worth, talent and the potential for success. There is no panacea for this, no magic formula that works with every boy or girl. Each of our students is unique, and each requires a slightly different kind of intervention. Sometimes the breakthrough will happen in the academic program; usually not. 

In 1995, the following news was released: Principal Named At Quest… Anne Simon has been named Principal at Quest, A Country School in Boonville, California. Quest is a junior boarding school for children from 6 to 16 and was founded and operated by Robin & Donna Harris. For information, they can be contacted at 707-895-2613.  The Harris family tried to make some improvements to the buildings, but may have done more harm than good. They hauled some trailers up to the land, and made some patch-work repairs on the cabins. They kept horses, goats, pigs as part of the Quest School program.  It was like a “new age ranch,” a former student recalled.  They slaughtered pigs for food, and had a “meditation closet” (upstairs in the studio apartment of the Lodge, which was a study at the time).  This included a device made from copper wire in a pyramid shape with a dangling quartz crystal in the center.  An electric current was sent through the copper wires when a switch was turned on.  (The switch is still there today , but is not connected to anything.) The Quest School students occasionally sat under the pyramid and the school staff member would hit the switch to align the students’ chakras. 

The same former Quest School student also described the time a native American healer came and built a traditional sweat lodge on the flat ground by what we now call Monk Spring (on the East side of the property above the driveway) had traditional native sweat lodge ceremonies there.  According to the former student, when the weather gets really nasty in winter, roads can get washed out.  He remembered the terrifying time a school bus with over a dozen kids went off the driveway at the turn above Isis cottage and slid part way down the hill.   The driver hit brakes and didn’t turn the wheels correctly, so they started sliding off the road towards the steep drop-off.  There was no gravel on the road back then and it was a slick mud surface.  Everyone could have died but they were saved when a giant Madrone tree stopped the bus from rolling over the edge of the steep cliff-like hillside.  It took five trucks to tow the school bus out. 

By 1997, the Harris family closed the Quest School and moved on, returning the abused land and buildings to Bob and Rox Hedges. 

Pete and Jen
Pete and Jen are a San Francisco duo that tried to buy Bear Wallow from Bob and Rox in about 1998, after the Quest School closed.  The couple wanted to start a retreat center on the property, and tried to round up a group of friends to co-invest in the project.  Jen was working to facilitate retreats for non-profit organizations, so she knew first hand that there was a strong need for retreat centers in Northern California, and especially for places at the more affordable end of the rate scale.  Pete and Jen worked out a deal with Bob and got the property in escrow.  Next they began to come up on weekends and work hard to fix up the buildings as much as possible in order to show possible investors the potential of the place.  They removed the trashed linoleum from the dining room floor, and did some interior painting.  In the end, Pete and Jen could not find enough investor dollars and Bob put the property back on the market. 

The Amanae Foundation  
Bob and Rox’s third potential buyers were a couple of women who started the Amanae Foundation. They wanted to run a center to teach their special bodywork techniques and other trainings.  Founded by Australian native, Christine Day, and carried-on by Pat Burdy, Amanae™ is hands-on, emotional release, bodywork which opens “doorways” that have been closed by deeply held fear, anger and trauma. Amanae is a journey that takes us back to remembrance and direct experience of the self.  According to one description, “Amanae Foundation is a Metaphysical foundation offering training in Transformative Bodywork, and specializes in lectures, events relating to any area of personal growth, expanding consciousness, offers classes.” The techniques were said to have been channelled by Christine. 

Pat apparently met Christine Day in Mount Shasta where Pat experienced her first Amanae session. Within the first 30 seconds of being on the table and feeling the power of this extraordinary work, Pat knew her life was forever changed.  Pat and Christine worked together doing workshops. As the work developed they formed a partnership and together founded a school to teach others the Amanae system.  “Amanae is about removing barriers from our cellular body and receiving our light and remembering who we really are. We are already enlightened, it’s only about remembering and embodying this into our cells. There are doorways throughout the body that when opened allow us to access our own light. Once we can access our own light, healing takes place within. Amanae works very much with the heart. There are many barriers in our hearts and while there are barriers here one cannot receive one’s own light or give out in a true form. “This work returns us to our natural state as free will beings.” 

Here is Christine’s remarkable story of how she received the Amanae technique: “I was meditating one morning and within a 2-3 second time period I was given this work… Amanae. It was just all of a sudden one minute I didn’t know anything and the next minute I knew a concept of healing that would help people move more completely into who they were. And I didn’t really understand everything I was shown at the time. I had had no metaphysical background and no desire ever to put my hands on anyone or to touch people or to be a healer. A lot of people use that word. But here I was…I was given a technique…something that was given to me and shown to me…and it was so complete in itself… it was like I knew every part of it…like I’d been studying it for years.” 

Christine and Pat lived on the Frogwood Lodge land from mid to late 1998 until 2001.  When they took over the property, they faced the daunting task of saving the wreckage left by over 30 years of wear and tear and at least seven years of maintenance neglect.  To rebuild the place, they would need plenty of money and dedication.  They managed to raise enough money to remodel the lodge (where they then held Amanae trainings and meetings).  Thanks to Amanae, the lodge was transformed from a completely run-down and trashed out relic (with a leaking roof and dangerous decks) to a simple but beautiful repaired state.  During the remodel, the lodge received a new roof with six large skylights, a centralized forced-air heating system with ceiling fans, and an upgraded commercial kitchen.  The decks were removed and windows replaced. 

Amanae’s Departure
After the completion of the lodge remodel however, Christine and Pat were not able to replace any of the other eight leaking or near-leaking roofs or do very much of the other huge mountain of restorative work needed.  They were apparently expecting to receive some donations from supporters to help repair and maintain the buildings, but the anticipated contributions fell through.  The Amanae Foundation was not able to afford all of the expenses and their mortgage payments, so the property went through foreclosure in 2001 and went back to Bob and Rox Hedges.  Some time during the foreclosure proceedings, Christine and Pat moved out and the place was empty with a foreclosure sign at the bottom of the driveway. 

This condition and the rumors around the Valley about the closure of Amanae, prompted two unscrupulous Philo residents to drive up to the empty buildings and steal as much property as they could possibly take.  These thieves apparently stole seven room heaters (worth about $1000 each), many light fixtures, fire extinguishers, five new doors, and probably much more.   Amanae filed an insurance claim for the stolen goods, but the outcome is apparently still unresolved. 

Frogwood Lodge Retreat Center
When the Hedges put the property back on the market (for the fourth time) in the spring of 2002, Bob lowered the price again, hoping to finally unload the deteriorating resort for good this time.  Bob Hedges put a for sale sign up over the old “Amanae Foundation” sign left by Christine Day et. al. after foreclosure in 2001.  By then, retreat centers were in high demand in California, and several interested parties looked at the property with hopes of finding the right place to build their dream retreat, educational center, or healing center, etc.   The run-down condition of the buildings and the water system surely discouraged many would-be buyers, until the current family of owners came along and discovered the dusty jewel.    

On March 16, 2002 the stage was set for what is now Frogwood Lodge Retreat Center, when we paid our first visit to the ailing Bear Wallow (and noticed several beautiful frogs during our walk around the property).    Clearly the site was very run down, but the unique (grandfathered) commercial use permit, ten-building infrastructure, excellent privacy, gushing spring water, and healthy redwood/fir/madrone forest made the place a prized jewel, despite its condition. 

We continue to improve the buildings and grounds to make Frogwood more usable and more comfortable. The current focus is on renting the facility to groups of up to 60 people, and we also rent single cabins to individuals, couples, families, small groups, etc.  We are developing our focus on stewardship of the land, facilities rental, healing work, creative work, and activism. A strong community of stewards and visionaries is evolving around the project, as we try to build a successful business and contribute to the Anderson Valley and to the world with high-powered galactivism.   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The legacy of this special property and the Anderson Valley history continues…