By Margaret Magnus
The December 2017 Thomas Fire completely burned the wooden entry fence at Meher Mount. Only the metal gate with the heart in the center was left standing.
Years earlier in 2003, Meher Mount's neighbors Larry and Maj Hagman had donated the metal gates that they no longer used. Former caretakers Ray Johnston and Elizabeth Arnold took them to an iron worker who cut them down to fit the space.
Ray also designed the gate to include a metal heart that was welded onto the gate. He then built the wooden fence at the entry and installed the gate. They painted the fence and gate white, and the heart was covered with reflective copper paint.
A SECURITY & SAFETY RISK
With the fence burned to the ground in December 2017, the opening created a security and safety risk as curious passersby wandered on the property to see the potential fire damage and to visit Baba's Tree.
As no one was in residence at the time, one of the first steps in fire recovery was to install a temporary security fence to discourage unauthorized visitors and to protect Meher Mount. Volunteers even covered the "Welcome" sign to indicate that Meher Mount was closed.
Unfortunately, if a there was an unscheduled visit from a utility company - such as Southern California Edison - they took the metal gate off its hinges to get in. This situation was repeated a number of times - despite instructions on how to enter the property when no one was there. The result was that the gate was then out of alignment.
NEW IRON FENCE
In April 2018, the former, burned wooden fence was upgraded and replaced with a new metal fence. The metal helps protect Meher Mount in the event of future fires.
The white gate was painted black to match the new fence, and the welcoming heart was once again visible. During a visit in May 2018, Ray Johnston worked to re-align the heart.
The heart gate is again welcoming visitors to Meher Mount.