Own a Piece of Dune History

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Fans of Frank Herbert’s Dune have a chance to own a piece of the novel’s history: the stucco house where most of the seminal science fiction novel was written. After 35 years, owners Gayle Keck and R. Paul Herman are selling 412 Mississippi Street.

Herman is in the sustainable investment space and an author of business books. Keck is a food and tourism writer; she won a 2008 Lowell Thomas Award for her travel story, “Pirates of the Mediterranean.” They plan on moving to Illinois to pursue business opportunities.

“One of the things we hope is that someone will buy the house with an appreciation for its history, and for Dune,” Keck said. “For sci-fi fans, there’s a lot of history here.” 

In the Frank Herbert biography, Dreamer of Dune, Brian Herbert noted that his father wrote most of the novel at a rolltop desk in 412 Mississippi Street’s dining room in the early 1960s. 

“There’s a big skylight in the dining room and I can totally picture Frank writing there because it’s really light-filled,” Keck said. “It’s an inspiring space. There’s a good creative feeling here; that may be the house or it may be who’s lived in it. We hope we’ve added a layer of creative vibe to it ourselves.”

Sci-fi legends like Robert Heinlein, author of numerous books, including Stranger in a Strange Land, visited the house when the Herberts lived there, according to Dreamer of Dune.

“We hope the house will go to someone who really appreciates that,” Keck said. 

“Most people are at least appreciators of art,” Herman added. “Some people are creators of art; they’re not professionals but they’re still creators. Maybe they produce for their own benefit but someone who is creative, that would be my feeling about who would enjoy living here. That’s certainly been my experience.” 

The two-bedroom, one-bath residence is listed at $1.6 million. 

“I hope people will come and look at the house even if they have no interest in buying it because it’s a chance to walk through it and get a feel and appreciation of where Frank Herbert wrote the book,” Keck said. “He wove so many elements of philosophy and his broad knowledge into the book itself. The fact people are discussing it decades later and finding new things to interpret says a lot about the book. I’m looking forward to the new movie and I hope it’s not a stinker like the last one was.” 

Dune: Part 1 is slated to be released on October 22. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, its cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa. 

“We’ll miss everything,” Keck said, about Potrero Hill. “The sunny weather, the convenience to the airport, the friendly people, the neighborhood shops and restaurants where we know the names of the staff. It’s a nice, friendly neighborhood.”

Herman added, “We have gone to almost every Potrero Hill appreciation night and always learn something about the community. A lot of people are making the world better through their creativity or expertise. That’s the feeling for most of us in San Francisco. We can envision a world we want to live in and what we can do about it.”