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Lone Pine, CA
This was the space in which Franklin and Sherifa Merrell-Wolff lived. It has been open to visitors since they began living here in 1942. Franklin and Sherifa, and several of the Assembly of Man members purchased a 450-acre ranch at the base of Lone Pine Mountain near Tuttle Creek Canyon outside of Lone Pine, California. James Briggs, Sherifa’s son, was the main contributor to this purchase. Others were Gene and Alma Sedwick, Murray and Viola Gregg, Bill Cohout. The intent was that all who contributed to the purchase would retire to the property.
This purchase made it easier to prepare for the two months Franklin spent working on the Ashrama each year from 1930–1950. During “camp” he had help for those two weeks.
Initially the only home on the property was the Ranch House (also called the Guest House, but now referred to as the Cottage). The property was a “ranch” in that there were mules, goats, sheep, three cows and a few chickens.
In the early 1960s, Franklin and his second wife, Gertrude, (Sherifa passed by then at age 82) themselves designed and built a house on this ranch (Franklin was seventy-eight years old and Gertrude was in her fifties!). The property was first named The Assembly of Man Ranch by Sherifa, after the school she and Franklin had organized and devoted to spiritual education.
After Franklin’s death in 1985, this property was inherited by his grandchildren, Doroethy Leonard and Robert Briggs, who continued the tradition of using it as an informal spiritual center and hosting events. In 1986, attendees of the annual August convention, on Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s philosophy, along with readers of the Sangha newsletter, were asked to suggest a new name for the Center. At Convention in 1987, the ranch was renamed The Great Space Center, reflecting a term for Ultimate Reality that Merrell-Wolff used in his “Aphorisms on Consciousness-without-an-Object.”
Doroethy Leonard, Franklin’s granddaughter, is now the sole owner of this exquisite property, where she and her family welcome a variety of spiritual activities. Visitors are welcome to experience his study in the Main House, which contains Franklin and Sherifa’s Library. It has been changed very little since the time when Franklin would sit in his office and record reel-to-reel tapes for his Sunday (weekly) talks.