BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

Extraordinary Vintage Photos Reveal Hawaii's Hippie Treehouse Community

From 1969 to 1977, the hippies at Taylor Camp on Kauai lived in treehouses, preferred to go nude, and smoked a lot of weed.

Posted on October 2, 2015, at 1:00 a.m. ET

In the late 1960s, a rag-tag group started to camp out on the beach in Kauai, and over the next several years, built a community of treehouses known as Taylor Camp.

John Wehrheim

The camp was named for its benefactor — Howard Taylor, the brother of Elizabeth Taylor — who let the hippies take over a 7-acre parcel in 1969 along Kauai's North Shore after he was told by the state he would not be allowed to build on it.

John Wehrheim

The community didn't have any specific rules, but supported a clothing-optional lifestyle, developed a communal garden, and encouraged smoking marijuana.

John Wehrheim

They attempted a back to the land ideology, fishing and farming, while also relying on welfare and food stamps.

Debi Green in the garden.
John Wehrheim

Debi Green in the garden.

A then 23-year-old John Wehrheim moved to Kauai in 1971 and happened upon Taylor Camp.

"This is a place with no TV, no electricity," Wehrheim told BuzzFeed News. "They didn't have have running water — it was from the stream, no telephones, and they had to go nine miles into town to get mail."

Wehrheim returned in 1976 and started photographing the camp in earnest. By this time, the community was well-established and had a toilet, a cess pool and running water.

Diane Striegel, who lived in this treehouse, said in Wehrheim's book that it was built into the ironwood trees fronting the beach with materials from a torn down plantation house.
John Wehrheim

Diane Striegel, who lived in this treehouse, said in Wehrheim's book that it was built into the ironwood trees fronting the beach with materials from a torn down plantation house.

The community swelled to as many as 150 inhabitants at certain points.

Striegel in her treehouse's kitchen.

Striegel in her treehouse's kitchen.

The residents of the camp came to Hawaii from as far as California, Florida, New York, Canada, and even Europe.

Dana Mitsui and Karma in front of "Big House."
John Wehrheim

Dana Mitsui and Karma in front of "Big House."

People came from all walks of life — some of them were Vietnam vets, outlaws, surfers, hippies, or children.

Alpin Hamilton Noble standing at the door.
John Wehrheim

Alpin Hamilton Noble standing at the door.

Even though people loved to be naked at Taylor Camp, "free love" wasn't the norm — most people coupled up, forming relationships that for some have lasted a lifetime.

Andy and Patricia Leo, who are still together more than 30 years later, pose.
John Wehrheim

Andy and Patricia Leo, who are still together more than 30 years later, pose.

Lots of babies were conceived and born in the treehouses.

Teri Green and Rosey Rosenthal.
John Wehrheim

Teri Green and Rosey Rosenthal.

There was a resident doctor, who was a Vietnam vet, and several midwifes who would help.

A young boy named Jesse sits in front of a treehouse.

A young boy named Jesse sits in front of a treehouse.

The community built a church, which served as a spiritual center for the camp.

"The church wasn't like a normal church. We would talk about spiritual things... It was about finding out who we were, working out our problems, our questions," Bruce Kramer said in Taylor Camp.
John Wehrheim

"The church wasn't like a normal church. We would talk about spiritual things... It was about finding out who we were, working out our problems, our questions," Bruce Kramer said in Taylor Camp.

It was named the Church of the Brotherhood of the Paradise Children:

John Wehrheim

Residents of the camp often repaired or sewed their own clothes.

Diane Patalano and Richie Palumbo.
John Wehrheim

Diane Patalano and Richie Palumbo.

Teri Green rocking the cradle.
John Wehrheim

Teri Green rocking the cradle.

A favorite pastime was nude volleyball, played daily at sunset.

John Wehrheim

Sports in general were very popular among members of the community. Yoga was another common activity.

Baby Moses, Paolo Baricchi, and Sailor DeCamp set-up the net.
John Wehrheim

Baby Moses, Paolo Baricchi, and Sailor DeCamp set-up the net.

"It was a great experimental living situation," Cherry Hamilton said in Wehrheim's book titled Taylor Camp. "There would be wild full moon parties, thirty foot waves rushing under our houses, bongos playing madly at midnight and babies being born."

Hawk, Cherry and Moses Hamilton.
John Wehrheim

Hawk, Cherry and Moses Hamilton.

Among the drugs used at camp was plenty of acid.

John and Marie Calanga's home.
John Wehrheim

John and Marie Calanga's home.

John and Marie inside their home.
John Wehrheim

John and Marie inside their home.

Eventually cocaine became prevalent — often passed around at parties on an abalone shell.

John Wehrheim

Pot was grown in the garden, which became a means to connect with some of the local community, which was looking for new ways to make revenue in the wake of closed pineapple plantations on Kauai and the loss of jobs.

Hawk Hamilton with his marijuana plants.
John Wehrheim

Hawk Hamilton with his marijuana plants.

Taylor Camp was still met with hostility from some locals, who called them haoles — a slur for white foreigners — and did not endorse their alternative lifestyle.

John "Emee" Erson in front of his house.
John Wehrheim

John "Emee" Erson in front of his house.

In 1974, after the Kauai newspaper the Garden Island published several negative reports about disease and other problems at the camp, the state decided to intervene and acquired Howard Taylor's land.

Most people left on their own accord, but some stayed till the bitter end, forcing officials to burn the treehouses to the ground in 1977.

Nearly 40 years later, Haena State Park is still open for people to explore.

A kid name Bok runs to the beach with his surfboard.
John Wehrheim

A kid name Bok runs to the beach with his surfboard.

To learn more about Taylor Camp, please check out John Wehrheim's book and documentary. Also, find out more about Wehrheim's work through his website.

Support our journalism

Help BuzzFeed News reporters expose injustices and keep quality news free.

Start