Main House
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The Secrets of Skywalker

The Main House is designed to look like an 1869 Victorian home of a cattle rancher. A sprawling 50,000 square feet, the house has 13 fireplaces, 14 bathrooms and Lucas’ personal, low-slung screening room with 35 plush seats. All the redwood in the house is salvaged timber from a dismantled bridge that once spanned an estuary in Newport Beach. There are striking pieces of art on display throughout the house, and the cabinetry and stained glass are stunning. There’s also an 1899 Steinway piano, a conference table made of Honduran mahogany with ebony inlay, a Victorian wicker clock, a Louis Majorelle desk and a massive, jaw-dropping Tiffany chandelier. Construction of the Main House began in 1982 and took three years to complete. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
Indiana Jones had to go to the far reaches of the earth to find magical artifacts, but here they sit (along with the archaeologist’s trademark hat and whip) in an immaculate bookcase in the Main House. The cache of cinematic treasures on display includes Charlie Chaplin’s dimpled bowler and knobby cane, a whip used onscreen by Rudolph Valentino, an intricate crown from “Legend,” some light sabers and a collection of badges worn by the Keystone Kops. There’s also a battered old California license plate that reads “1T1H3X8”—it’s from “American Graffiti” and an allusion to “THX1138,” Lucas’ 1971 feature film debut. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
The Main House is home to the Lucasfilm Research Library. Its grand spiral staircase, made entirely of wood, was constructed at the ranch’s mill shop. The library houses the Lucasfilm collection (which uses its books, periodicals and other materials to help film, television and stage productions). The Maxfield Parrish painting “Garden of Allah,” in a gold-leaf frame, hangs above a cozy fireplace, and “Lesby” by N.C. Wyeth is upstairs. The glass dome was inspired by the early 1900s work of Pasadena architects Green & Green. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
The Inn accommodates Lucas’ personal guests, as well as filmmakers, musicians and actors who come to use the ranch’s postproduction facilities or scoring stage at Skywalker Sound, which has been the workplace for a long list of luminaries. Among them: Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Faith Hill, Herbie Hancock, Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr., the Rolling Stones and ’N Sync. The inn’s well-appointed rooms are named after creative figures whom Lucas admires, including Ingmar Bergman, Sergei Eisenstein, George Gershwin, Gustav Stickley and N.C Wyeth, and reflect their styles. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
The busiest spot on the ranch is the 150,000-square-foot Technical Building, home to Skywalker Sound. Billed as the film industry’s largest shared storage system, it allows multiple users to access and share sound files (there are 34 servers and an astounding 145 terabytes of storage). Lucas conjured up an elaborate history to guide architects in designing the entire ranch. His story for this building was that it was an old winery that had been damaged in a fire and refurbished in 1930s with an Art Deco flair and sense of Hollywood history. Ground-breaking took place in 1984; it took three years to complete construction. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
This little guy in the leafy courtyard of the Technical Building is Tik-Tok, one of the character puppets from the 1985 film “Return to Oz.” The movie was directed by Walter Murch, the celebrated sound designer who worked with Lucas on “THX1138” and “American Graffiti.” He’s revered by the Skywalker Sound staff as a pioneer in sound as a key storytelling discipline. Look close—on the wall behind Tik-Tok is a film poster for “Treasure Island.” The corridors of the Technical Building are lined with framed vintage posters, many of them foreign-market advertisements for Hollywood classics. The collection is carefully tended and periodically circulated, so what you see this month might be different during your next visit. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
The foley stage is where movie sound effects are devised the old-fashioned analog way. The place is a fascinating clutter: The Skywalker foley artists have everything you can imagine that clinks, clunks, cracks, creaks and clatters. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
That barely-there automobile used to belong to musician Thomas Dolby and was left at one of the old Lucas properties. It became a favorite of the foley team so they brought it to their current digs but had to carve it up to get it in the door. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
This soundstage is where Skywalker Sound does a lot of the heavy lifting on its assorted projects. At left is Randy Thom; he’s a two-time Oscar winner and multiple Oscar nominee in the sound categories. Pull back the carpet in the far-right corner of the room, and you can see where, years ago, Akira Kurosawa etched his name in the then-wet cement. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
The Technical Building has a 300-seat Art Moderne-style theater called the Stag. The name was inspired by a towering ram-like statue near the screen. A second statue on the opposite aisle—the one pictured here—is more monk-like. If you’re a “Star Wars” fan, you’ve probably seen them: They were outside the Emperor’s citadel in one of the films. I visited the theater to see a montage of films Skywalker Sound has worked on (it’s an amazing list that has won the team 18 Oscars). The sound in the theater is, of course, spectacular but, sorry, no popcorn allowed. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
Firefighter Noah Skinner is one of the several hundred staffers at the ranch. The Skywalker firefighters do more than put out brush fires; they handle overnight guest services for lodgers at the inn, and they often zip guests up to the Main House or Technical Building in one of their smaller trucks. The job has great perks: The ranch has large gym and fitness building that includes racquetball, basketball and ping-pong facilities, as well as a softball field (some of the employee team names: Raiders of the Ballpark, Let the Wookies Win and Rebel Scum). The firefighters have played hoops with Salma Hayek and volleyball with Seth Green. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)
This painting hangs above the fireplace at the Skywalker fire station, which is why there’s a model fire engine on the mantle. The fire brigade hopes to have a model made of its new $450,000 engine that is the envy of the other Marin County departments. The engine is the only one in the region with an innovative new gel gun used to protect at-risk buildings from fire. In deference to Lucas and his USC schooling, the engine and the ranch fire hydrants are painted USC cardinal. (Photograph by Gregg Segal)