What's Happening with the Freestone Retreat?
Times are a-changing for UUCB’s beloved Sonoma County Retreat, built in the 1970s by volunteers. A new neighbor has made an offer to buy the remaining two surplus parcels, originally sectioned off from the Dome’s 11-plus-acre main parcel to sell in order to provide income for the completion and maintenance of the Retreat.
That division was many years ago, and the money from the sale that never closed is sorely needed to perform structural remodeling if we plan to continue to use the Dome. And then we would like to make it more attractive, with an interior design makeover, a hard surface road, and other amenities to make users’ stay the most comfort-able, nurturing and bucolic it can be.
We need you, the congregation, to make some decisions with us. A task force has been formed to come up with a long-range sustainable plan for the Freestone property. We were about to ask the congregation to approve the sale of these raw lots, with the funds held in reserve until the Freestone Task Force has completed its work and a sustainable plan for the property has been approved by the congregation. Wanting to get one more opinion, the task force and committee hired a consultant experienced with retreat properties such as ours to help. Very shortly we will have his recommendations. But the buyer will not wait forever, and it is hard to see how we can continue to maintain the Freestone Dome without the sale.
And this is where you come in. We will not continue to have this remarkable property unless you want it. So please, if you love Freestone, speak up to other members of UUCB and neighboring congregations. If you are unfamiliar with Freestone Retreat, talk to members of the Freestone Committee (look for our Sunday table), check it out on the UUCB website, and consider renting it for a weekend, or weekdays, or a whole week. Saturday, August 8, is our monthly open house, work party and potluck lunch. We hope you will come and visit, and perhaps help us decide what to do about the now dismantled barbecue area deck. We are planning to hold the annual church-wide Freestone picnic on Saturday, September 12—mark your calendar!
Hope to see you there, or read about your visit in our guest book.
Freestone Committee Chair
Freetone Retreat: Description and Details
A forty-foot geodesic dome, stained in an earthen-redwood color, nestles in atop one of the rolling hills in Sonoma County, not far from the village of Freestone, and only 15 miles from Bodega Bay and the ocean. Pines and douglas firs, oaks and madrones creep up the nearby slopes, yet from its westward-facing deck, a panoramic view greets the eyes: gentle hills and valleys stretching to the horizon, a lone "mountain" rising in the distance. The peaceful nature - the space - of the surroundings, and the space within the dome lend themselves to the repose and quietude for a spiritual as well as a physical retreat.
Within the dome, a free-standing, glass-encircled, wood-burning fireplace with its towering chimney serves to take the chill off on cool days. Large picture windows on three sides frame spectacular views; and at the east curve of the dome, a double counter marks off space for the McDaniels memorial kitchen. Three sets of pine trestle tables and benches, and four couches with removable foam seat and back cushions - all designed and built by members of the Freestone Retreat Committee over the years - complement the rural setting. Outside, under the nearest of several 200-year-old valley oak trees, is a large redwood platform, complete with rails, tables, and benches with a barbecue pit nearby. Three bedrooms and two lavatories adjoin the dome. Each room can sleep two or more persons on cots and built-ins; with the couches and foam sleeping pads in the dome itself, a maximum of 16 persons can be accommodated overnight. While a stove and a wall heater in the hall between the dome and the three bedrooms are powered by propane gas, there is also a refrigerator and electric hot water heater. Water comes from a new well, drilled in 1992, which provides a plentiful supply of clear, fresh water. In order to help maintain the serenity of the surroundings, there are no phones on the property. However, cell phone reception is good and pay phones are available in Freestone Village - about 5 miles away.