Whether you refer to it as Sweetwater in its original incarnation or the Sweetwater Music Hall in its current manifestation, the venue has been a mecca for live music fans, and a centerpiece of Marin, its culture, and its community for nearly five decades.
While it has passed through the hands of various owners over the years (and a couple different locations), Sweetwater has always been a musical hub for musicians and artists and the space is truly a cultural landmark. Sweetwater is the subject of the latest installment of Mapping Mill Valley History. It’s a collaboration between the Mill Valley Chamber and the Mill Valley Public Library‘s Lucretia Little History Room in which we invite you to tour familiar streets and buildings and see how they have evolved over the years.
To date, we’ve covered the O’Shaughnessy Building at 59-67 Throckmorton Avenue, currently home to the sleek home goods store Prevalent Projects and the gorgeous Roja Rugs, as well as the former French Laundry at 138 E. Blithedale Avenue, now home to Revery Salon, as well as Mill Valley City Hall at 26 Corte Madera Avenue!
Now we’re moving right across the street to the Sweetwater Music Hall, which originally opened on November 17, 1972 at 153 Throckmorton Avenue. In the 1920s that location was used as a checkroom for hikers to store their clothes and gear but it later became a series of bars, including Sweenies and the Office. In the Summer of 1972 a group called Sweetwater of Mill Valley Inc. headed by Fred Martin, a young entrepreneur, purchased the Office from John Ebner and Claude T. Ross with the intention of converting it into a music venue and bar. Martin renovated the space in order to accommodate live performances. On its opening night, an acoustic folk-rock group called An Exchange played for a crowd that lined up halfway down the block to get in.
Following the venue’s opening in November 1972 there were typically at least four to five musical acts booked per week, making it a popular local hangout.
If you have questions about this project or any of the buildings, people, or businesses mentioned please reach out to Natalie Snoyman, Supervising Librarian and Archivist of the History Room, or Jim Welte, Executive Director of the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce. Curious about a particular building in Mill Valley and want us to feature it? Email Natalie or Jim.