Berke­ley wo­man saves his­toric Glen Ellen homes

San Francisco Chronicle - - WINE COUNTRY FIRES - By Lisa Amand Lisa Amand is a San Fran­cisco free­lance writer. Email: food@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @im­no­foodie

Glen Ellen’s his­toric Last House, the for­mer home of writer M.F.K. Fisher, is still stand­ing. So is the res­i­dence of David Pley­dell-Bou­verie, next door on the Bou­verie Pre­serve in Audubon Canyon Ranch.

All the credit for sav­ing Last House goes to the heroic ac­tion of the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s fire ecol­o­gist, Sasha Ber­le­man, said Wendy Coy, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

When one of Sonoma County’s many fires be­gan Mon­day, Ber­le­man, who lives in Berke­ley, “grabbed her gear and headed straight for Bou­verie,” Coy said.

When she ar­rived, nearly all the build­ings in the Bou­verie Pre­serve were on fire. Along with the as­sis­tance of neigh­bors, a bucket bri­gade was formed us­ing water from the swim­ming pool next to David Pley­dell-Bou­verie’s house in or­der to sep­a­rate burn­ing struc­tures from the two stucco houses. Ad­ja­cent staff of­fices, hous­ing and build­ings all burned to the ground, but the two homes were saved. ”It’s just dev­as­tat­ing,” Coy said. Af­ter the fire seemed some­what un­der con­trol, Ber­le­man kept watch all Mon­day night, camp­ing on the gravel drive­way, putting out hot spots, of which there were many.

Last House was built for Fisher by Pley­dell-Bou­verie in 1971. A few years later, Pley­dell-Bou­verie do­nated his 535 acres of wild­flow­ers, wa­ter­falls and wildlife to the non­profit Audubon Canyon Ranch.

The fa­mous food writer’s per­sonal posses­sions re­cently re­turned as part of a restora­tion project, were all saved. That in­cludes the writer’s sig­na­ture rat­tan Pea­cock chair, din­ingroom ta­ble, pot­tery, books, pho­to­graphs, awards, art­work and a wellused Corona­matic type­writer.

A let­ter from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton is one of many trea­sures in Pley­del­lBou­verie’s house that thank­fully was pre­served.

Coy is still await­ing word on which wildlife sur­vived on the 535-acre prop­erty. She said there would have been even more dev­as­ta­tion if the Bou­verie Pre­serve had not done a con­trolled burn in May.

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