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Valley of the Moon

Timeline (Life Magazine - 6/29/1953)

George Phar Legler (GPL) was born in Evansville, Indiana on November 19th, 1885.

Early 1900s

GPL moved to Pueblo, Colorado working as an electrician.
George moved to Tucson and acquired the land that eventually became the Valley of the Moon (some sources site date of acquisition as 1923).
Work began on the Valley of the Moon. GPL began with the purpose of bringing mental and spiritual relaxation to his fellow man. He had noticed the positive (i.e. relaxing) effects that his miniature dioramas had upon a young girl he visited in a nursing home, which is how GPL got the idea for the Valley of the Moon.
Construction of VOM takes place. Horse teams were brought in to dig caves, and steam shovels later took over the digging. Some 200 tons of stone and 800 sacks of cement were used in the construction process, as well as an uncounted, yards of steel cable, concrete, and ornamental minerals. Legler made a complex of tunnels, castles, grottos, winding passageways, dark caves, stone towers, an underground chapel, pools, an enchanted garden, wishing wells, mountains, amphitheaters, and lighted walkways. Miniature elves, dragons, fairies, and gnomes were also part of the magical landscape.
Valley of the Moon was opened to the public. Free fantasy fairy tours were conducted during the evening. One of GPL’s main benefits was that happiness should be given and not sold, so he never charged adminssion (although he gratefully accepted donations, of course). In addition, no one was ever refused access to the Valley of the Moon because of inability to donate money.
GPL introduced Bunnyland Theatre, featuring trained rabbits which GPL dressed to play various roles. The most famous of these rabbits was Jack who, upon his death in 1952, was publicized in several newspapers and magazines. During this decade GPL began living solely on a diet of condensed milk and vitamins due to intestinal damage that occurred in a car-bicycle accident earlier in his life. For a brief time, he also consumed quantities of honey, but eventually gave that up.
2.5 acre property was deeded to the Valley of the Moon Memorial Assocaition, Inc. (VOMMA).

Scheduled tours at the VOM ended. From that point all, all tours were given by appointment only.
Life Magazine published a feature article on the Valley of the Moon. The previous year, McCall’s magazine also listed the VOM as a notable attraction for children to visit.
1950s- 60s
GPL’s health (and especially his nighttime vision) was gradually failing, but he continued to give tours.
By now, GPLs failing eyesight forced him to terminate his tours and shows. For approximately the next ten years, GPL continued to live on the grounds, but he became a virtual recluse. His family across the street would take care of him as much as he would allow.
A group of Catalina High School students who had toured the VOM as children set out to find the VOM and discovered George on the grounds. After determining that the student’s interest was sincere (as opposed to vandals destructive attitudes which, at various times in the VOM’s history have plagued its caretakers), GPL shared the VOM and its many stories with them. This association eventually led to the VOM Restoration Association (VOMRA) a few years later after extensive restoration work was accomplished by this group.
VOMRA Inc was formed. GPL was moved to an apartment nearby, and the Valley of the Moon was officially reopened. During the summer of 1973, historical tours were begun anew, and the VOMRA began making concrete plans for the future of the grounds. In the fall of that same year, free fantasy fairy tours were also reinstituted, with GPL acting again as a master story teller. His health, however, began to fail and he was moved into the Posada del Sol Nursing Home.
VOM was listed as an historic site on the Arizona Register of Historic Places, and, three years later, the deed to the land was legally cleared and signed as a gift to the VOMRA, Inc.
VOMRA became the GPL, and this organization obtained legal rights to the property in the form of another gift deed.
GPL died at the age of 97. A memorial services was held on March 2.
In 1959, George Phar Legler eloquently summed up his feelings about children and the raison d’etre of the VOM with these words: “If we can influence children to develop a friendly attitude toward everyone while they are children they will be happier adults. That friendly attitude will unconsciously react on their subconscious minds and, in turn, will strengthen their characters and give them deeper spiritual outlooks in life regardless of what church they may ultimately belong to.

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