PictureCity of Mill Valley Parks Supervisor Tony Boyd, at center, and his team installed a new redwood bench outside City Hall this week. Courtesy image.

When Jed Bullard, whose father and grandfather stood guard in 1957 to “save the downtown clock” in downtown Mill Valley, heard that the clock had been restored in 2017 via the Outdoor Art Club‘s $11,000 grant to the Mill Valley Chamber‘s Enjoy Mill Valley Fund, he was overjoyed and wanted to contribute to the Chamber’s ongoing beautification efforts in the City.

Jed and Sherri Bullard, who now live in Kentucky, donated $5,000 and, coupled with a matching donation from a number of local residents, the City of Mill Valley this week installed a gorgeous redwood bench just outside City Hall. The matching funds will help add additional landscaping over time.

The bench was made by former longtime City parks supervisor Rick Misuraca, one of many benches and structures he created using local milled wood .

The installation of the bench serves as a great reminder of the power of inspiration fueled by the Chamber’s Enjoy Mill Valley Fund, says Chamber Co-Director Paula Reynolds. “We’re so grateful that Jed and Sherri were inspired by our efforts to support the Downtown Clock repair, and have turned that into a gorgeous new gathering space outside City Hall that will likely influence others in the community to do the same.”

The bench installation comes on the heels of a pair of public art benches installed in town in March. The first of the so-called Art Benches in Mill Valley, part of the City’s new public art program is called Art in Public Places, was Big Wave Bench, the creation of longtime of Bolinas artist and arborist-turned sculptor Chuck Oakander. The arrival of Big Wave Bench came courtesy a successful grant proposal from the Mill Valley Chamber‘s Enjoy Mill Valley Fund to the Outdoor Art Club. Oakander’s bench has been installed in Old Mill Park, just opposite the Old Mill.

The second bench came in the form of acclaimed Bay Area artist Colin Selig‘s Asymmetric Art Bench at the corner of Miller and Evergreen Avenues – just across from Whole Foods Miller, on property owned by Mill Valley Refuse principal Jim Iavarone. Selig creates public art from recycled propane tanks, exploring the boundary between sculpture and sustainable design. Iavarone, the Chamber and Whole Foods supported this effort.

PictureIn this Marin Independent Journal photo from 1957, E.W. Bullard Sr. & Jr. sat at the base of the downtown clock, with baseball bats in hand, to “save the clock” after the City’s public works director had announced “it would be junked.”.

Bullard’s family played a key role in staving off the clock tower’s removal in the 1957. E.W. Bullard Sr. and Jr., his grandfather and father, respectively, stood guard to “save the clock,” partly because “Bullard Jr. found true love beneath its battered face and erring hands,” according to the Marin Independent Journal. The Bullards did so when then City Public Works Director Robert F. Smith announced that “it would be junked because its four faces keep four different times,”

The historic timepiece was derided for much of its existence because of the inability of its four faces to stay in time, so to speak, with one another. ​Donated to the community in 1929 by the volunteer firefighters, the clock was later repaired in 1956 after years of debate about whose responsibility it was to maintain the clock, which was subject to frequent stops due to power outages. In recent decades, the running joke was that you simply had to guess which side of the clock was correct, as they hadn’t all worked simultaneously for ages. 

That changed with the 2017 restoration.

The Chamber established the Enjoy Mill Valley Fund in July 2016 with the cooperation of the Marin Community Foundation to work with local and county agencies and organizations to identify deserving, “shovel ready” local beautification and infrastructure projects that just need a little funding boost to get to the finish line. All donations to the Enjoy Mill Valley Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

With the help of contributions from the Outdoor Art Club and an array of generous donors, the EMV Fund has helped repair the Downtown Clock Tower, supported the restoration of the replica Gravity Car, made the free Movies in the Park series sustainable and bigger and better than ever and spearheaded a number of plantings and beautification efforts around town.


Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!