Sarobia, an exotic, esoteric-sounding name for an estate of yesteryear, instills mental images of mysticism, Eastern philosophy, decadence, with even a Romanesque ring to it.
Instead of wearing togas, the Logans and their band of merry artists, poets, and enlightened, so-called derelicts sported guru-styled garb, fashionable in India. Having dabbled in Theosophy since around the late 1910s, the proprietors of Sarobia became interested in metaphysical aspects of life, most likely the result of Sara’s sister, Christine, who was very active in the Theosophical movement as an actress and producer of plays about the illustrious subject in California.
In the early 1920s, Robert, his wife, and daughter, spent much time in the Hollywood area where Christine lived. Logan bought a ranch near the theosophist settlement of Ojai, California, and named their property “Arya Vihara,” another enchanting name that opens one’s mind to mystery and imagination.
“For U. S. birds, insects, small animals, weeds, poets and artists, there exists no snugger sanctuary than ‘Sarobia,'” reads a 1937 Time Magazine article entitled, “Religion: At Sarobia.” The Logans, and their guests who were invited to participate in this socialistic endeavor, ran the experimental art colony and provided for its needs from the inside.
Since Robert believed his estate should remain “as near to weedy nature as possible,” the way Time’s article puts it, those responsible for landscaping the grounds made out the best with their respective working arrangements. Pennsylvanian Impressionist Robert Blossom Farley was pictured in the previous entry as watering a horse and wearing overalls by the barn.
Along with the gatehouse—whose immediate surroundings appeared to be not very far off from being weedy as possible—thirteen other abodes, scattered throughout the property, served as accommodations for the Sarobian communards. One of the dwellings was named “Runcible,” after a Logan cat, of which numbered at least ten at all times, spawning the rumor of cat-worshipping on the compound.
A pet cemetery on Sarobia, containing all sorts of critters, paid tribute to the owners’ evident love of animals, as did the great multitude of nick-knacks and figurines of felines, elephants, dogs, birds and other creatures left behind, bequeathed with the estate to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after Robert’s death.
Theosophists believe that animals who live directly under the care of humans have the opportunity to gain an immortal soul through the love shown to them by their owners and caretakers, a philosophy embraced apparently wholeheartedly by the Logans.
Robert and Sara were vegetarians, and grew their food in greenhouses attached to the barn, tended by the residents of the art colony for their sustenance as well. After the property was taken over by PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the greenhouses were used to grow the springtime flowers for Independence Square in Philadelphia, where Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are located.
The second level of the barn was converted into a playhouse during the ’20s. Sara had a passionate love of theater, and invited troupes of actors during the summers to stay and perform there.
Having tried to dig up dirt for this series, I found nothing but hearsay about the goings-on around the estate. Not much was written with regards to the daily activities of Sarobia, other than documentation of the talks given there by guru Jiddu Krishnamurti, mentioned in an earlier post. A complete review of the sessions held at Eddington can be found by clicking here.
Sadly, not much was penned about the Logans either. The couple left no journals. They were not well-known by the general public except for their alleged eccentricities. The couple was rather reclusive except for their attachments to certain societies such as the American Anti-Vivisection Society, to which both were members—Robert as president of the group for almost forty years—to their theosophical cronies and members of the art colony, and for the Ryers Infirmary for Dumb Animals. Sara belonged to the Colonial Dames and Art Alliance as well, both in Philadelphia..
Logan motored about the area in an old 1938 Buick limousine until his death in 1956, with a large ornamental owl on the hood, raising further the eyebrows of their neighbors.
Coming up at the next and final installment… “Sarobia: The Conclusion!” For a present-day pictorial of Sarobia, please click—> Here.