Green Gulch Zen Center: History and Modern Context
The Miwok, a group of Native Americans, occupied were the original inhabitants of Green Gulch. Artifacts, such as stone tools, of their culture may still be found on site. The land was then granted to William Richardson 1838 as a part of what came to be known as Rancho Sausalito. Green Gulch was one of five dairy ranches that were established by Richardson. The barn built by Ray Button eventually became the zendo of Green Gulch. The next owner, George Wheelwright, was an innovator and bulldozed the valley floor, straightened the creek, and created a system of reservoirs to aid in irrigation. The land was then given to the San Francisco Zen Center with the help of the Nature Conservancy under two conditions: a working farming would be maintained and the land and trails would be open to hikers. Understanding the history of how Green Gulch came to be a Zen Center is an important part of the heritage of the site.
For those who have visited Green Gulch Zen Center in Northern California’s Marin County, 1650 Shoreline Muir Beach, CA to be exact, the magnificence and beauty of the place speaks for itself. Located just north of San Francisco, the Zen Center provides a retreat from the city and a quiet place to experience nature, spirituality and community. The site itself is located on 115 acres in Muir Woods and provides access to Muir Beach and a number of hiking trails. The main buildings of the Zen Center are located towards the East end of the property and are the home to a number of resident monks. The gardens and farm form the center of the property, while Muir Beach and trails form the western edge of Green Gulch. In addition to being the present site of Green Gulch Zen Center, this property has passed from the Miwok tribe, Spanish ranchers, the co-founder of Polaroid and the National Park Service. Because of its rich cultural history, breathtaking natural landscape, and present spiritual atmosphere, we believe that Green Gulch should be honored and preserved for future generations. Given Green Gulch’s rich past and histories, it is important to preserve and safeguard this local heritage; “a filtered past infused with purpose in the present.” (Conkey, Meg and Tringham, Ruth. “Cultural Heritage.” Anthropology 136K. University of California, Berkeley. 25 January 2011)