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Come visit us at Sunset's "laboratory of western living."

Come visit us! Since our move here over 30 years ago, the home and gardens of Lane Publishing Co. in Menlo Park, California, have welcomed nearly two million people from all over the world. The low, rambling complex of three buildings is now headquarters for the producers of Sunset Films as well as for the editors, writers, and other staff of Sunset Books and of Sunset, The Magazine of Western Living.

If you join one of five free daily tours of our South Willow building, you'll see the experimental gardens, test kitchens, editorial offices, entertainment areas, and patios. Many ideas for garden and travel articles, recipes and menus, crafts projects, and building-related reports originate here. These timely staff-written articles have made Sunset Magazine a vital part of family life in the West, and have made Sunset Books known all over the world.

Where and how these publications are planned and created have a lot to do with their usefulness to our readers.

The Sunset philosophy. Our editorial content is based on the fact that Western living, shaped by history, climate, and geography, is unique. Westerners are interested, active, involved people. They want to know how, when, and where to do the things that are different in the West.

Home ownership here is largely suburban. That's why we located Sunset's headquarters in a suburban setting, with residential architecture and landscaping to create a stimulating working environment--a "Laboratory of Western Living" that keeps our staff attuned to our editorial subjects and our readers' and viewers' life styles.

This direct involvement and understanding lead to greater accuracy and service. In brief, we practice what we preach.

This means we must deal with the not-so-good as well as the good realities of Western life. For instance, water is scarce in much of this territory, and Westerners live with the constant threat of earthquakes. Our editorial response has included articles and books on drought-tolerant plants and landscape solutions, how-to articles on drip irrigation, an acclaimed book on earthquakes, and articles on earthquake preparedness.

Sunset's appeal is to the family, and with this in mind we don't run ads for beer, hard liquor, or tobacco products.

Why zoned editions? Within the expanse of the Western United States are many climate zones, from the cool, damp regions of the Pacific Northwest to the extreme heat and cold of the Southwestern desert. There's an equal range of travel and recreational opportunities, from boating in the San Juan Islands to ski-touring on Mount San Jacinto to visiting pueblos along the Rio Grande. Building styles and needs also vary widely.

To speak to all these differences, we publish four zoned editorial editions, each with its own Garden Guide and Travel Guide, and many other zoned articles on travel, building and remodeling, gardening, and occasionally food topics. Sometimes even the cover changes from zone to zone.

Going back almost a century. Sunset began in 1898 as a promotional vehicle for the Southern Pacific Railroad. In fact, our name is derived from the Sunset Limited, a crack train that ran from Los Angeles to New Orleans. After an interim as a literary magazine, it was bought by the Lane family in 1928.

Ever since then, it has been edited as a regional magazine emphasizing gardening, cooking, and home improvement, as well as travel in and beyond the West (the area that encompasses the 13 states from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, including Alaska and Hawaii).

In 1931, we published our first book. At that time, the magazine's size ranged from 36 to 76 pages. In the 1940s, the magazine doubled its circulation from 200,000 to 400,000. Readership doubled again in the 1950s, the decade that saw Sunset move 40 miles south from San Francisco to Menlo Park.

Today Sunset Magazine, still owned by the Lane family, has more than 1.4 million subscribers; our four regional editorial editions are read by an estimated five million men and women. We have 130 book titles in print, and Sunset Films, started in 1971, has produced more than 85 films and video tapes.

Sunset's buildings and grounds. In every aspect of our publishing home--site, architecture, building materials, furnishings, and plants--you'll sense our relationship with the history of California and Western America.

The 15-acre site for our three main buildings was originally a portion of the Rancho de las Pulgas, a Spanish land grant to Don Jose Arguello, governor of Spanish California in 1815. That era is reflected in architecture that recalls California's early missions: a low, rambling style that attractively relates indoor and outdoor. You'll also see shaded patios and central courtyards, all-year gardens, and a working atmosphere that is at once relaxed and highly productive.

In South Willow (opened in 1951) and North Willow (1964), Los Angeles architectural designer Cliff May blended a residential feeling with the functional needs of offices. Thick adobe walls, handmade desert tiles in lobby and halls, 15th- and 16th-century Italian and Spanish furniture, locally crafted lamps, benches, and tables, and a collection of Navajo rugs create a historically unified setting.

Our newest building, Willow West (not open for tours), incorporates current space- and energy-efficient design while complementing the look and atmosphere of the earlier two. Designed by Albert Hoover and Associates, it has passive solar heating and imaginative use of natural light. Integrated into the landscape design is an exercise course, part of an employees' fitness center complete with weight room and aerobics room.

We have branch editorial offices in Seattle and Los Angeles (our magazine is also printed in L.A.). Across the country, we have seven sales offices, and our circulation fulfillment offices are in Boulder, Colorado.

Join a tour or see the gardens on your own. Most guests visit South Willow. Here you can join a guided tour of the lobby, test kitchens, editorial offices, patios, and entertainment areas (where we often host business meetings and conferences).

Or just stroll through the extensive garden. Originally designed by landscape architect Thomas Church, it rings a 1.2-acre lawn and putting green. The trees and shrubs represent Sunset's territory, from Northwest rhododendrons and azaleas to desert cactus and a tall yucca. Beds for annuals and bulbs are replanted three or more times a year for constant displays of color.

Our headquarters offices are at the corner of Willow and Middlefield roads in Menlo Park, California. A 45-minute drive south of San Francisco and a mile southwest of U.S. 101, our offices are open weekdays from 8 to 4:30. The free building tours begin at 10:30, 11:30, 1, 2, and 3. Groups of eight or more should call ahead: telephone (415) 321-3600 and ask for the tour hostess. We're looking forward to meeting you.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1985
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