Image courtesy Chas. E. Rankin/Marin History Museum.

Few cities and county’s can match Marin’s depth and breadth of historical documentation – namely Mill Valley’s Lucretia Little History Room.

The Mill Valley Library’s installments of Mapping Mill Valley History, a collaboration between the MV Chamber and the MV Public Library‘s Lucretia Little History Room in which residents get to tour familiar streets and buildings and see how they have evolved over the years, span the O’Shaughnessy Building at 59-67 Throckmorton Avenue, currently home to the sleek home goods store Prevalent Projects, the former French Laundry at 138 E. Blithedale Avenue, now home to Revery Salon, as well as MV City Hall at 26 Corte Madera Avenuethe Sweetwater Music Hall and the Mill Valley Lumber Yard.

The latest deep dive into Mill Valley history comes from the  Marin History Museum, which charts four significant events in the late 1800s and early 1900s that brought more people to Mill Valley, yet with the growth, specific inconveniences would plague the growing town. Yet, with community spirit and civic leadership, Mill Valley prospered in many ways. Here’s a a portion of “Mill Valley’s early growing pains”:

It was an enjoyable time in Mill Valley. Residents spent time at Mill Valley’s first restaurant, built in 1891: a two-story clapboard building known as the Mill Valley House on Miller Avenue. In addition, it was also one of the town’s first hotels. Owners Jesse and Lotte Bundy were known for their tasty veal stew and berry pies. In addition, the ice cream and lunch parlor were frequented often. In the evenings, silent movies were shown in a hall built with a plank floor. After the movies, the local children would fish for any coins that might have slipped between the boards.

The townspeople also enjoyed outdoor parties lit by lanterns, church on Sunday and trips to San Francisco, which were convenient by train and ferry. The town held all-day Fourth of July festivities, the Night in Mill Valley gala event, opera performances and May Day festivals as well as the Mountain Play and Dipsea Race. Numerous clubs were formed, including the Masonic Lodge No. 356, the Mill Valley Social and Athletic Club and the Outdoor Art Club, which is credited for collecting subscriptions for the first plank sidewalks on the streets near the train station. The first City Hall was built in 1908 and the Carnegie Library followed in 1910. Bridges were erected over creeks, dirt roads were oiled and cement sidewalks were (finally) built. By 1920, the population was 2,554. Over time, sidewalks became a more common sight in residential neighborhoods, particularly after 1920, when they were required for mail delivery.

History Watch is written by Lane Dooling, marketing and social media coordinator at the Marin History Museum, Images included in History Watch are available for purchase by calling 415-382-1182 or by email at




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