Have you ever found yourself looking at a building downtown, admired its architecture and wondered what it looked like in the past? What businesses were there before?
Mapping Mill Valley History is a new project that invites you to tour familiar streets and buildings and see how they have evolved over the years. It’s a collaboration between the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and the treasure trove that is the Mill Valley Public Library‘s Lucretia Little History Room.
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. This week offers a special treat: a look at the history of Mill Valley City Hall at 26 Corte Madera Avenue!
Mill Valley’s City Hall was constructed in 1936, during a time when the city was recovering from the Great Fire and the stock market crash of 1929. Located in downtown Mill Valley, City Hall is surrounded by a mix of commercial, residential, and institutional buildings.
The building is comprised of three sections: the entry mass, which is adjacent to the fire house and faces south; the east wing, which comprises most of the building, and the rear addition, which was added in the late 1970s. In 1902, Mill Valley purchased a former campground in a redwood grove on Corte Madera where City Hall presently stands. It was on this site where early surveyors and builders ate their meals and pitched their tents. A volunteer fire department cleared those redwoods in 1907 to construct Mill Valley’s first town hall in 1908. The 20 x 50 foot wood frame building housed the fire department’s stable and carriage house on the first floor and city offices on the second. As Mill Valley grew and became more established, the building was considered inadequate.
In October 1935, during the Great Depression, Mill Valleyans voted to approve a $30,000 bond issue to construct a new City Hall and the federal Public Works Administration provided a matching funds grant. In December 1935, the old building and an adjacent building were demolished and construction of the new building began.
Join us for a glimpse into the building’s history through historical photographs, newspaper articles and advertisements.
Oh, and on evenings when City Council meetings last into the late evening hours, City business will share the sonic airwaves with its neighbor across the street, the Sweetwater Music Hall, one of the best music venues in the Bay Area. Join us next time to learn more about the Sweetwater!
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.