In the 1950s, the Lodge was a restaurant and gathering place for the Big Sur community including Henry Miller, who lived on Partington Ridge. He’d soak in the baths and then come up to the Lodge to write. In the late 1950s you might have seen Steve McQueen, Joan Baez, or a young Hunter S. Thompson, who the Murphy family hired (briefly!) as a caretaker.
In 1962, Michael Murphy and Richard Price started Esalen Institute. Soon, Alan Watts gave a lecture in the Lodge, and the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow stopped in looking for a room. Maslow settled in as a frequent visitor, and regular workshops started to happen in the Lodge. In 1963, Fritz Perls drove up from LA. After dinner one night, he set up a makeshift stage and chairs and gave a demonstration of Gestalt therapy. Soon after, Fritz moved to Esalen permanently. From there, Esalen grew and flourished, evolving and transforming with the times.