One of the more unusual and controversial enigma’s in Santa Cruz County is known as the Yogi Temple. Throughout the decades rumors have surfaced that the “Yogi Temple” was designed as a place of worship, a place of healing, to a place of unworldly ritualistic practices, even to rumors of alleged hauntings. However, the mysterious and unusual provenance of this unique piece of architectural history stems from an unusual tale of two, both bizarre and eccentric brothers.
Dating back to the 1930’s our story begins with brothers, Kenneth Kitchen a master brick layer and Raymond Kitchen a master stone mason. The unusual pair had been known to have a love - hate relationship, which had even been witnessed by neighbors as temper fueled fist fights occasionally exploded in the streets. The brothers were known to be excessively competitive with one another, but they were also elaborately creative.
During mid World War 2, the brothers each acquired their own piece of land, on Fair Avenue, on the West Side of Santa Cruz County. During this era the land was barren and predominantly nothing but empty fields. Although the brothers lived near one another, it was because of their competitive nature and mutual dislike for the other, that they were unable to cohabitate. As a result of their spirited character, the two began structuring unusual dwellings for themselves, even going as far as to working on their homes after dark, to avoid observation by would be onlookers.
According to the research of historian Caroline Swift, Raymond the stonemason, had been inspired by Orthodox Christian architecture, and he began designing his home in a similar fashion adorning it with abalone shells, bulbous dome shaped features, a massive chimney and even an underground water system that he had dug out himself during the wee hours of the night.
Kenneth on the other hand, was inspired by a post card from India, depicting a unique temple, neither brother were ever religiously motivated in their designs, on the contrary, they simply liked unusual architecture. Kenneth, the brick layer, built what is known as the “Yogi Temple” also, adorn with shiny abalone shells and bits and pieces of tile and other conglomerates that he likely scavenged for, The eccentric Kenneth, was so unusual he even added large radio towers to the structure, which included an anti-submarine device. Kenneth, would line his bed with water, put on his head phones and claimed to hear German submarines out in the bay. In 1942 Kenneth was asked to turn off his radio device, as it was interfering with U.S. Navigation.
But this strange story doesn’t end here, on the other side of town, the sister of the Kitchen brothers arrived to town. Sarah Jane Kitchen. Sarah, apparently following the family blood line, had an attraction to odd and eccentric men and she ,married a boa by the name of William E. Daglish. However, Daglish ‘s odd behavior was above and beyond anything the Kitchen brothers could compare to.
William Daglish, had the reputation of being a fanatic, described as a one-man moral crusade, who lined his automobile with signs of protest and was publicly boisterous to all that would listen,. He became a thorn in the side of the local authorities, as he continuously campaigned against illegal gambling in China Town. Even going as far as to taunt the police with his protest paneled automobile and taking ad’s out in the local newspaper to spite them. Daglish was prone to lecturing public religious epitaphs, and rants against the Church of religious persecution. He also obnoxiously boistered the merits of eating healthy foods, something he was obsessed about. Daglish would speak his mind to anyone that would listen.
In 1937 Daglish was hauled into court on Riverside for an insanity charge. The couple seemed to disappear after the allegations, but returned one year later. Where they soon opened a health food store on Water Street that grew more capriciously then even the Kitchen brothers could even imagine.
As it was later discovered, life was hard for the Kitchen brother’s sister, Sarah Jane. She had been reported as a semi-invalid throughout her marriage; however close friends and neighbors thought more was going on behind closed doors. The woman looked as if she was being slowly starved, many believed she was being forced to eat a regulated diet by her husband and was not receiving the nutrition she so desperately needed. Periodically, Sarah Jane would sneak over to a neighbors house and ask for food.
In the summer of 1940 Sarah Jane died, behind the store where they lived. A few days later Mr. Daglish made national news headlines, for eloping with his 22 year old employee the very same day that he buried his wife. In fact the story was so bizarre the Kitchen brothers reported that they did not even learn of their sisters death until they saw it in the news paper. Even stranger still, Mr. Daglish, informed a grave digger at the Felton Cemetery to dig a grave site for his wife at the Felton Cemetery one month prior to her death.
Police investigators became suspicious of Mr. Daglish and an investigation ensued. Mr. Daglish ranted that he was a victim of a “Church frame up” – An employee who worked for Daglish for only two months, was interviewed by police and claimed that Mr. Daglish was a good husband and that the eccentric sister of the Kitchen brothers, Sarah Jane had condoned the immediate marriage of her soon to be widower. Nevertheless police went to the Felton Cemetery and exhumed the body of Sarah Jane Daglish for the purpose of an autopsy, under suspicion that she was poisoned.
Two weeks after the exhumation Mr. Daglish was quoted saying to reporters “When are they going to get through playing with that cadaver and let us know what they actually find?” …
Ultimately the toxicology report revealed there was no sign of poison. In fact it was determined that Sarah Jane died of “hemorrhagic pancreatitis” and the issue was laid to rest.
William Daglish went on to marry two more times, before he himself died in 1952.
After the death of Daglish the Kitchen brothers seemingly mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen in Santa Cruz again. Leaving behind there eccentrically strange and often questioned domiciles for future generations to behold.
So the next time you happen to be on Fair Avenue, over on the West Side of Santa Cruz. and notice two very odd enigma’s erected in between beach style homes , remember this - they are neither a temple or shrine formally used for religious sects, or a haven for magical worship, nor do they have a haunted past with mass graves. They are simply the elaborate imaginary art work of two eccentric brothers, trying to outdo one another, and who’s families peculiar history ultimately left more questions than answers.