Friday, July 10, 2009

Local Treasure Part 1: Allied Arts Guild

A sign welcoming you to Allied Arts Guild

As David and I embark on our latest “Local Treasure” series, I am compelled to share with you a place that holds a warm place in my heart…. and that is Allied Arts Guild. Allied Arts Guild, on Arbor Road at the edge of Menlo Park, is a visual palette of landscape and architecture steeped in history adorned by the local flora and fauna so abundant there.

The front Arched entrance to Allied Arts Guild with sign in Spanish tiles.

The Guild itself, once a parcel of a much larger property, was developed in the late 1920’s by Mr. and Mrs. Werner, both of whom were aficionados of the Spanish inspired garden and accompanying colonial architecture. The couple, both devout followers of the craftsmen and artisans of that period, had a dream of constructing a place where these artists could work in an environment dedicated solely to beauty and serenity, a place to which their inspiration and work might be inspired.
The fountain in the "Courtyard of Abundance"

A view looking into the "Courtyard of Abundance".

From the moment you arrive at the ornamental iron gates emblazoned with the capital letter “A”, you have arrived at “Zanzibar”. This beautiful property, once photographed in its entirety by famed California photographer Ansel Adams, you immediately recognize the sense of calm that the Werners sought to achieve. It is a sanctuary steeped in another era, and each time I visit, I am continually drawn to another time and place, that of early California and the elegance of Spanish culture.

A beautiful mailbox handcrafted in metal emblazoned with "AA".

My first experience of Allied Arts came in the mid 1960s as a little girl when I made frequent visits with my mother and grandparents’ annual sojourn from Vancouver. The highlight of our visit was always having tea on the patio, and in my mind’s eye, I can still see the blue tables and hear the trickle of the little fountain in the courtyard. I will never forget the repertoire of toast soldiers smothered in butter and jam, of cucumber and nasturtium sandwiches and the assortment of sweets that accompanied such events. The highlight was always the tall sugar rimmed glasses filled with iced tea with the proverbial mint garnish. My Grandfather later recaptured the gardens in watercolour, although sorry to say, those pieces were lost along the way.

Detail of a metal grate covering a window.

I was at Allied Arts just this past weekend, and now, some 45 years later, the place still evokes a memory of sunny afternoons with my mother. How warm those memories still are.

One of the many walkways on the property...Consumate California!

To learn more about Allied Arts Guild visit their web site here.

Barbara Ashfield

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