Sausalito | Marin City | Mill Valley | Tiburon | Belvedere | Corte Madera | Larkspur | Greenbrae | Kentﬁeld | Ross | San Anselmo | Fairfax
A look at the unique nooks that make the county a special place to live
Southern Marin S TTiburon Peninsulaa TTwin Cities Ross Valley R
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Marineighborhoods 2008â€“2009 3
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4 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
FFaa irr f a x
an S an A ns ellmo
FAIRFAX Downtown ..................................................... 6 Cascade Canyon ............................................. 8 SAN ANSELMO Sleepy Hollow ............................................... 10 Downtown .................................................... 12 ROSS ............................................................ 14 KENTFIELD................................................... 16 LARKSPUR................................................... 18 GREENBRAE................................................. 20 LARKSPUR LANDING .................................. 22 CORTE MADERA Downtown .................................................... 24 East............................................................... 26 TIBURON ...................................................... 28 BELVEDERE .................................................. 30 MILL VALLEY Strawberry ................................................... 32 Blithedale ...................................................... 34 Downtown .................................................... 36 Tam Valley .................................................... 38 Miller Avenue ................................................ 40 Homestead Valley ......................................... 42 MARIN CITY ................................................. 44 SAUSALITO Waterfront .................................................... 45 Caledonia Street ........................................... 46 Bridgeway..................................................... 49 ON THE COVER (Clockwise from top left) Corte Madera, Larkspur, Ross, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Larkspur Landing DESIGN & MAPS Gabriel Lieb PHOTOGRAPHS Ken Piekny WRITERS Samantha Campos, Sabina Chapman, Maureen Dixon, Tanya Henry, Laurel Kellner, Kara Maddalena, Jacob Shafer Shelley Shepherd Klaner, Matthew Stafford Gabriella West
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Mill Valley 131 Tiburon Marin City
Belvedere Sausalito 101
Welcome to the neighborhoods… Marin County is many things to many people. To some it’s a bastion of progressive thought and inclusive lifestyle; to others a haven for the eccentric, the independent minded, the folks who go their own way—and appreciate those who do likewise. There’s a curious juxtaposition of vast wealth with a struggling-to-make-ends-meet professional class. There are “mansions on the hill” overlooking valleys of crowded apartments and suburban tract housing. Marinites are civic minded, family oriented and can appreciate a shady park, tree-lined boulevard and trickling brook when they see one. But mostly Marin is a collection of small, tight-knit communities and neighborhoods—as unique in demographic, lifestyle and history as any in the state. Separated by entire hills or only a few traffic lights, these alcoves have spent the better part of a century molding their characters, carving out a niche in this collection of suburban paradoxes that have one very important aspect in common—people seem to really like living here. With our 2008 edition of Neighborhoods, the Pacific Sun continues examining the dynamics of Marin’s finest nooks. This time 'round not only will we include our exhaustively researched—and sumptuously written—foray into Southern Marin, but we're including our more recent tour of Central Marin and Ross Valley. From their humble beginnings to modern day configurations, these are the places that help make Marin one of the finest, most eclectic and impossible to define counties on the planet. After all, Marin is many things to many people. —Jason Walsh Editor, Pacific Su —Jason Walsh Editor, Pacific Sun
Marineighborhoods 2008–2009 5
Downtown Fairfax Where Marin's past meets Marin's presentFFaairrfaxx
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Lefty Gomez Field
Wi llow Ave
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Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en photo by Ken Piek ny
F A I R F A X
G L A N C E
FFIRE STATION Fairfax Fire Station, 10 Park Rd. LLIBRARY Fairfax Library, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. PARKS Deer Park, off Porteous Ave. P
Charles ty-toity British dignitary— Fairfax was founded by a hoi n. ero Cam of on Bar Snowden Fairfax, the 10th
6 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
is Drake styling. Some Fairfax Park Fire Stn more unusual Police City Hall Post Office Tamalpais Rd architecture is the Fo rre st result of buildings Av e that were transformed from practical uses to k ree eC more personal ones. . cad Cas Rd as P For example, television lin Bo producer Michael Rosenthal and his rk Deer Pa wife, Marlene, live in a delightful abode that used to serve as the Fairfax train-stop shelter. In 1941 the trains stopped running from San Francisco to Fairfax and, after World War II, the absence of rail started having an impact on the community—building materials were scarce. West Marin didn’t really start gaining population until after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when thousands of people lost their homes and were suddenly displaced. At the time, Marin experienced a huge population boom and houses were hastily built by local contractors without any actual architectural plans. San Franciscans who had had basic summer homes in the area quickly turned them into permanent residences. Today, the downtown area boasts many fine restaurants where great-tasting wine can still be sampled. The friendliness of the residents can’t be denied and visitors to the area can’t help but wonder if this would be a great place to call home. —MAUREEN DIXON or
irtually unchanged for at least a couple of generations, Fairfax is affectionately known for its idiosyncratic funk, eccentric locals and colorful history. The famous Fairfax movie theater marquee (built in 1950) dazzles visitors and residents alike, welcoming everyone to the center of town with its vibrant neon lights. Though Fairfax is regarded as more of a retro-’60s sort of town with a very laid-back mentality, it’s been gaining quite a reputation for being the best place in Marin to have fun after-hours, including hearing superb live music not just on weekends, but every night with clubs like 19 Broadway and Peri’s. Ironically, Fairfax was founded by a strait-laced, upper-crusty British dignitary named Charles Snowden Fairfax, the 10th Baron of Cameron, Scotland. His ancestors held the original land grant for the state of Virginia and he had decided to venture out West in the 1850s, hoping to discover gold. Building a lovely estate on the eastern end of town he named Bird’s Nest Glen, he quickly became known for his charm and generous hospitality, even if he did have a penchant for a wee too much of the whiskey now and then. Lord Fairfax eventually was drawn into local politics and was elected as a Marin County Supervisor in 1865. During the turn of the 20th century, Fairfax became a popular place to visit from San Francisco via the train, which stopped in the center of town at what is now the Parkade. Summer homes started popping up along with the established stretches of dairy farms, as the trains not only ferried dairy goods and lumber back and forth, but also city dwellers in need of a refreshing respite and a bit of fun that, of course, usually included copious amounts of alcohol from the local taverns. In 1913, another much smaller funicular railroad, called the Fairfax Incline Railway, was built on the side of Manor Hill as a way to haul prospective land buyers to see the available tracts. Apparently a speakeasy or two stood near the top of the ride during Prohibition, making the 500-foot ride all the more appealing. Throughout Fairfax, eclectic housing designs abound, from charming Victorian-inspired and early 1920s architecture to streamlined and redwood-infused 1960s
POST OFFICE Fairfax Post Ofﬁce, 773 Center Blvd. P PUBLIC SCHOOLS White Hill School, 101 Glen Dr. P
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Cascade Canyon The place where mountain biking was born
aking a walk through the bucolic streets of Fairfax, evidence of the town’s history is revealed via the various street names that show who owned large tracts of land as the town was being developed during the early 1900s. Henry Frustuck, the Pastori family, the Rocca brothers, as well as tracts owned by Bothin, Pacheco and Manor, are reminders of how the town came into its own. But perhaps the last of the original subdivisions, the Cascades (incorporated in the early 1920s), is representative of Fairfax’s most picturesque area—known today as Cascade Canyon. Even a famous and rare brand of pottery, Arequipa, was developed here at the former sanatorium site just west of downtown, at the foot of White’s Hill. (Today the Bothin Youth Center is operated by the Girl Scouts). In typical Fairfax fashion, the progressive physician Philip King Brown, who wanted to help urban “working girls”—store clerks, teachers and factory workers who had contracted tuberculosis as a result of the ash-drenched pollution that filled the air after the 1906 earthquake—founded the Arequipa Sanatorium. Named after a beautiful Peruvian city, the land was donated by real estate developer Henry Bothin and the site built with donations from local philanthropists, including Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of William Randolph. This area in Fairfax is also home to some of the best hiking and biking trails in the Bay Area. Not too far from Arequipa is Camp Tamarancho Boy Scout Camp, located in the hills above Fairfax about two miles from downtown. With more than 480 acres of gorgeous open space filled with redwood and oak trees, meadows, a beautiful lake and world-class mountain biking trails, plus first-rate campsites, this oasis is the perfect place to get away from it all without going very far. Passes are required to access the area and can be purchased at Sunshine Bikes on Center Boulevard in Fairfax or at the Boy Scouts’ Web site: www.boyscouts-marin.org. (Day passes are only $5 and yearly passes are also available.)
Bothin Youth Center (Arequipa) Camp Tamarancho Cascade Canyon Open Space C ypre
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Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en photo by Ken Piek ny
C A N Y O N
G L A N C E
FFIRE STATION Fairfax Fire Station, 10 Park Rd. LLIBRARY Fairfax Library, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. P PARKS Deer Park, off Porteous Ave.
8 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
Another popular Fairfax hiking and biking spot is Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve (that also includes the Elliott Nature Preserve), which begins at the end of Cascade Drive, about a mile from the center of town. It’s home to the now famous Cascade Fire Trail where Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and Charlie Kelly gave birth to mountain biking with their “klunkers.” With its pastoral winding trails and lush landscape, you might swear that you’ve seen a gnome or even a hobbit scurrying out in the distance. If you choose to hike up hill, some of the trails actually border on Camp Tamarancho, making those particular paths favorites of bikers and hikers. The trek to Cascade Falls is one of the easiest and most scenic hikes through the Cascades. Try to go during the late winter when the falls and Cascade Creek are still flowing from the heavy rains, but hiking there anytime of year is always a treat and reveals a choice range of seasonal wildlife. Along the trail there are stunning wildflowers, including blue and purple iris, milkmaids, buttercups and poppies, as well as madrone, bay and buckeye trees. If you go when the falls are at their peak, you’ll see water thundering down a dramatic 15-foot drop and into a lovely pool below before it merges gently back with the creek. By 1931 Fairfax became an incorporated town and the Cascade Canyon area today stands as one of Marin’s special treasures. With the best of everything, from gorgeous hiking and biking trails to its proudly liberal views and down-to-earth lifestyle, a better place to live would be very difficult to find. —MAUREEN DIXON C A S C A D E
n who had was founded to assist wome The Arequipa Sanatorium ear thquake. ’06 hed enc -dr ash the ing ow contracted tuberculosis foll
P POST OFFICE Fairfax Post Ofﬁce, 773 Center Blvd. P PUBLIC SCHOOLS White Hill School, 101 Glen Dr.
Cascade Canyon School
Kindergarten â€“ 8th grade
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Founded in 1981, Cascade Canyon School offers a dynamic, progressive and challenging educational program that encourages individual edu dual development while emphasizing cooperation, d on, creativity and global awareness.
Mid-year applications accepted.. For more information or to schedule a F school tour, please call 415-459-3464.
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Cascade Canyon School 2626 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Fairfax 415-459-3464 â€¢ www.cascadecanyon.org
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259-0325 www.gardenbuilders.com Marineighborhoods 2008â€“2009 9
Ct y Tarr Rd
Van Winkle Dr
o Ichab Ct
Stuy v e
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Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en
wn Developers have Dr Kn oll Dr eyed Sleepy Hollow for decades. Prior to the Depression, a Chicago syndicate bought Herzog’s dairy farm with the intention of development. The scheme collapsed when the stock market crashed. Around 1930, Sleepy Hollow became the first in the West to have an 18-hole golf course. In 1939 the land was given to the U.S. Army and a portion became a secret ammunition depot where it is believed remnants remain buried. Barracks were built, as well as batteries on Stuyvesant Drive and Oak Springs Hill. The Dominican Order of the Catholic Church bought the Hotaling land and in 1966 turned it into the prestigious San Domenico School for Girls. The beautiful campus is a co-ed elementary school and girls’ high school. Today, the Hollow boasts 750 homes. With its own fire district and Brookside Elementary School’s upper and lower campuses, plus its lush trails and tight-knit community, it is a popular place for families. Nearby Fairfax and San Anselmo provide restaurants, coffee houses and plenty of shopping. One can imagine that Washington Irving would have been proud to have Sleepy Hollow named for his famous work. As he proclaimed: There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. O
n The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the ghost of a headless horseman rides in search of his noggin. The only similarities between Washington Irving’s tale and bucolic Sleepy Hollow in San Anselmo are the whimsical street names. Toward the end of Butterfield Road, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, you’ll fi nd yourself winding through Tarry, Ichabod, Crane, Van Tassel, Katrina and Knickerbocker roads. Sleepy Hollow is not without its own ghost stories. Back in 1840, as notorious rustler El Emperito was herding stolen cattle, he was captured and hanged him from a silver oak tree, which still stands today. Some say his ghost wanders near the tree looking for those who killed him; others claim the tree still shows the scars from the hangman’s rope. Today, it is one of Marin’s most desirable neighborhoods. Residents enjoy the old-fashioned community feeling enhanced by their own clubhouse and swimming pool, horseman’s association, tennis club and swim team. Sleepy Hollow acquired its whimsical name in the late 1800s when the Hotalings, a well-to-do family, built a grand estate at the end of Butterfield Road and called it Sleepy Hollow in honor of Washington Irving, a family friend. They purchased the land from Peter Austin, who planted the eucalyptus and poplars that line Butterfield Road from its start at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to where it ends at San Domenico School. Austin wanted to create shade along the road that would lead to a luxury hotel, but his dream ended in foreclosure. The Hotalings had 200 Holsteins shipped from Holland to start a dairy farm, but after just four years they left. The land was leased to igmund Herzog, who in 1910 founded the first certified milk dairy in the U.S. Although it’s changed since its early days, Sleepy Hollow remains a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. Just off of Fawn Court are hiking trails along the ridge above the valley. Developers tried to carve a highway through here to but were unsuccessful—the Marin County Open Space District now protects the ridge.
Sleepy Hollow The sleepy community with the wild past tri
photo by Ken Piek ny
S L E E P Y
H O L L O W
G L A N C E
F FIRE STATION Station 20, 150 Butterﬁeld Rd.; Ross Valley Fire Department, 777 San Anselmo Ave. D LLIBRARY San Anselmo Public Library, 110 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo S PARKS Lansdale Park, Center Blvd. and Lansdale; Creekside P Park, Downtown San Anselmo; Memorial Park, Veterans Place P aand Sir Francis Drake Blvd. POST OFFICE San Anselmo Post Ofﬁce, 121 San Anselmo Ave. P
or of Washington Irving, who
ed in hon Sleepy Hollow is indeed nam n founders. tow the of nd frie ily fam a was
10 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
PUBLIC SCHOOLS Sir Francis Drake High School, 1327 Sir Francis P Drake Blvd.; Brookside Elementary School (Lower Campus, grades D K-2), 116 Butterﬁeld Rd.; Brookside Elementary School (Upper K Campus, grades 3-5), 46 Green Valley Ct. C
Thank You, Paciﬁc Sun Readers, For This Great Honor!
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Discover Marin Primary & Middle School Marin Primary & Middle School is an 18 months through eighth grade, co-educational, independent school located in Marin County. We believe education requires an integrated and interactive approach, inside the classroom and beyond.
To arrange a tour, or for more information, call 415.924.2608 ext. 215, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details Marin Primary & Middle School 20 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, CA 94939 415.924.2608 • www.mpms.org Treasuring Childhood—Learning for Life Marineighborhoods 2008–2009 11
San Anselmo The antiques capital of the West Bald Hill
a Magn oli
d Blv co cis
San Anselmo Memorial Park
Bald Hill O.S.P.
Greenfield Ave Creek Park
Stn Fire ve lia A Magn o e c l i l Po n H a l To w e s Av Ros Postice Off
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Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en
ve i handsome, wellS e m linas Ao Ave Bo selm stocked library, n A San several fine schools and some of the county’s best parks and outdoor attractions, all set to the backdrop of the still-pristine, meandering creek. The town holds a number of special events, highlighted by the annual downtown antiques fair. Lovely and secluded Creek Park plays host each year to a number of al fresco Film Night in the Park screenings, another subtle nod to the town’s celluloid past. With high-class commerce juxtaposed against natural beauty, a diverse citizenry composed of artists and professionals of every stripe, a rich history and a boundless future, it’s easy to see why San Anselmo shines as one of the brightest jewels in Marin’s decidedly ornate crown. —JACOB SHAFER
estled between wild and quirky Fairfax to the west and bustling, centrally located San Rafael to the east, perched beneath the rolling hills of the Ross Valley and the majestic slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, San Anselmo is truly a place unto itself. With a slow-paced small town vibe, well-groomed parks and quaint eateries and boutiques lining its stately downtown streets, it appears at first glance to be a relatively easy-to-peg town. But that sublime exterior belies a rich, colorful history and more than a few hidden corners. The area that would one day be known as San Anselmo has always been blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. Before the arrival of European settlers, Coast Miwoks inhabited the region. The Miwoks, whose territory stretched as far north as Bodega Bay and covered all of Marin and part of Sonoma, no doubt favored the area because of the creek with its abundance of fish and the rolling oak-covered hills that provided both shade and acorns. The arrival of the Spanish and the establishment of the missions spelled the end of the Miwoks’ era and paved the way for what is now downtown San Anselmo to be included in a vast land grant to wealthy friends of the Mexican government in the mid-1800s. More than two decades after California was added to the Union, the North Pacific Coast Railroad rolled through and shook things up in the mid-1870s, adding a line that ran from Sausalito to Tomales via San Anselmo, which for a few years appeared on maps simply as Junction. By the 1880s, the town had adopted its less utilitarian moniker, inspired by Juan Bautista Cooper’s original Punta de Quintin land grant, which marked the area as Canada del Anselmo. The arrival of the railroad—as well as the construction of the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1892—predictably brought growth, development and expansion. Today San Anselmo is among Marin’s most popular and beloved burghs. In addition to the myriad restaurants and shops that make the town a topnotch Bay Area shopping and dining destination—some call it the antiques capital of the Northern California—San Anselmo also boasts a
Grreenffielld Av Avee
St Fi r e
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A N S E L M O
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photo by Ken Piek ny
FI STATION Ross Valley Fire Department, Station 19, 777 San FIRE Anselmo Ave.; Station 20, 150 Butterﬁeld Rd., San Anselmo An LI LIBRARY San Anselmo Public Library, 110 Tunstead Ave. PA PARKS Lansdale Park, corner of Center Blvd. and Lansdale; Creek Pa Park, downtown San Anselmo; Memorial Park, Veterans Pl. off Sa San Francisco Blvd.; Robson-Harrington Park, 237 Crescent Rd.; So Sorich Ranch Park, end of San Francisco Blvd.; Faude Park, top of Br Broadmoor Ave. between Indian Rock Rd. and Tomahawk Dr. PO POST OFFICE 121 San Anselmo Ave.
ed its name from the In the 1880s the town switch elmo. ‘Junction’ to Canada del Ans
12 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
PU PUBLIC SCHOOLS Brookside Elementary, 116 Butterﬁeld Rd., San An Anselmo; Wade Thomas Elementary, 150 Ross Ave., San Anselmo; Si Francis Drake High, 1327 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo Sir
Iâ€™d like to thank all of my wonderful friends and clients for a fantastic 2008!
Proudly serving over 18 years in beautiful Marin with over 260 homes sold!
Please call us, or visit us on the web!
Connie Irwin, CRS 415.235.6263 Fletcher Irwin, Broker associate Connie@connieirwin.com Real Estate, Naturally!
Marineighborhoods 2008â€“2009 13
P o lice cee & Fi Fire re
M a rinn Arr t & Gaa rrd enn C e ntt er
Ross One family's gift to the county
Tow wn H all
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or millennia the region now known as the town of Ross was a serene wooded valley where the Coast Miwok hunted, fished and foraged; seven shell mounds were located in present-day Ross alone. Once the conquistadores had come and gone, the area became part of the 8,887-acre Rancho Punta de San Quentin, a Mexican land grant that was deeded in 1840 to Juan Bautista Cooper, a seaman out of Boston. After a decade of lumbering, dairy il l F ernh ranching and trapping otter along the shores of l ure Corte Madera Creek, Cooper sold the land for La $50,000 to San Francisco’s Benjamin Buckelew, Police Marin Art & Fire who unloaded 20 acres to the state for a whopping & Garden Town $10,000 and sold the rest of the rancho to one James Center Hall Ross for another 50 grand. Ross had made his way Lagunita s to the California gold fields from Scotland by way of Rd Tasmania, and like many a failed Argonaut, earned Ross Bl his fortune by selling goods and hooch to the minNatalie vd Common ers. Now he was a successful San Francisco liquor Coffin Town Park Greene wholesaler with his very own country estate. Park One of the valley’s most magnificent estates was Sunnyside, built for Ross’s daughter Annie. When James Ross died in 1862, his will stipulated that his widow, Ann, would have to pay their Today’s Ross is still the tranquil, daughters $10,000 each when they married, provided they “married tree-shaded enclave of gentility it’s been since its inception. well”—a loophole waiting to happen, but Ann ponied up anyway. The number of residences has hovered around 750 for the To do so, however, she had to sell off most of the rancho, keeping a past century. There are few paved sidewalks and no postal choice 297 acres for herself—the present-day town of Ross. delivery (residents pick up their mail at the handsome old The town had a special sense of itself from the beginning. Trees post office, the town’s former train depot). There are no bars could only be cut with city permission, a radical notion at the time, or convenience stores or banks or Laundromats or drugstores, and approaching and departing trains could not exceed 15 miles but there’s a clothing boutique, a beauty salon, an antique per hour. The Lagunitas Country Club had opened (but not to just store, two landscapers, a handful of acclaimed restaurants anyone) in 1903, the Phoenix Lake reservoir was built in 1905 a mile and several real estate agents. The median purchase price for a or so west of town, offering residents yet another splendid hiking ophome in Ross is just under $1.5 million, but you can opt for an tion, the 1906 earthquake inspired many a summer visitor to take up 1896 six-bedroom on three acres with tennis court, redwood residence year-round and in 1911, Ross Common, the town’s favorite grove, waterfalls, pool and cabana for $22 million if you’re so gathering place, was created from a 6-acre patch of donated Annie inclined. The town’s founders would feel right at home. Ross greensward. Ross is celebrating its official centennial this coming September. One hundred years later, the town remains a splendid place to raise a family, sip lemonade under a sheltering magnolia and retreat from the unpleasantries of the outside world. Turns out a hill and a coastline isn’t necessary after all when you’re shopping for a slice of nirvana. — MATTHEW STAFFORD Rd
M a d e ra
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photo by Ken Piek ny
F FIRE STATION 777 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 150 Butterﬁeld Rd.; San Anselmo; 10 Park Rd., Fairfax R LLIBRARY Larkspur Library, 400 Magnolia Ave. PARKS Creekside Park, Bon Air Rd.; Baltimore Canyon Preserve P P POST OFFICE 1 Ross Common
Ross city hall is reﬂective of many The famous bear statue at ity. nym ano et qui of s residents’ penchant for live
14 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Anthony G. Bacich Elementary, 25 McAllister Ave.; A A.E. Kent Middle School, 250 Stadium Way; Redwood High School, 3395 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; Tamiscal High Alternative, 305 Doherty D Dr., Larkspur; San Andreas Continuation, 599 William Ave., Larkspur; C College of Marin, 835 College Ave.
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Marineighborhoods 2008â€“2009 15
KentÀeld Gateway to the Ross Valley
Ken t Ave
College Of Marin
’s if f er S tn S h ir e F
D ra ke
W o lf e
Si C or t
Col l e ge
entfield keeps a low profi le. Past Bon Air Shopping Center in Greenbrae, driving west on Sir Francis Drake, the grounds of Marin Catholic are the only sign that you’re in Kentfield proper. You’ll spot the playing fields of Bacich Elementary (a California Distinguished School, as is Adeline E. Kent Middle School on nearby College Avenue). Then, with a scenic view of Mount Tamalpais opening up in the distance, you’ll finally see the first evidence of Kentfield’s name on the handsome gray stone Fire Station, a town landmark. A few stats are in order. Kentfield (population at last census 6,351) is an unincorporated county area, sandwiched between the towns of Greenbrae and Ross. Kent Woodlands, its sister community, lies on the slopes of Mount Tam, overlooking the College of Marin. Kentfield measures only 3 square miles, but boasts one of the highest rainfalls in the Bay Area at 47 inches per year, as well as one of the highest median household incomes ($130,000 to the average state resident’s $54,000). Housing values are literally through the roof, at a median house value of $1.5 million. And it is certainly a homogeneous place—92.9 of its residents are white, only 2.2 percent are Hispanic and about 2 percent are of Asian background. The area started out as a parcel of property owned by the family of Congressman William Kent (1864-1928). The beautiful and palatial Kent estate still exists, set far back off the road out of view of curious eyes on Woodland Avenue in Kent Woodlands; it’s now owned by musician Daniel Pritzker (grandson of Hyatt hotels founder Abram Nicholas Pritzker and a member of Forbes magazine’s 400-richest-Americans club), but until fairly recently remained in Kent family hands. Philanthropist William Kent also donated the land where the College of Marin currently stands. The College of Marin has been in operation since 1926. About 7,000 students enroll there every semester. It’s a compact campus of about 27 acres full of huge, beautiful old Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en
trees of many varieties and rests at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. Th is community college has had a great reputation in the county through the years, but has struggled financially in recent years, though Measure C bond improvements remain hotly anticipated. The money will go to modernizing science labs, classrooms and libraries; it will also provide the latest computer technology and upgrade fire safety and electrical wiring systems. Kentfield is a cyclist’s dream. The town’s well-known and popular bike path starts at College of Marin, crosses College Avenue, and runs alongside the A.E. Kent School’s gymnasium and playing fields, with Corte Madera Creek flowing on the other side. White, scented jasmine bushes line the fenced, sedate creek, which was straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s. There is indeed something peculiarly “nice” and non-Californian about Kentfield, as this unusual sign that appears at the bike path’s entrance demonstrates: “Please be courteous! Speak out or ring bell when passing.” —GABRIELLA WEST
photo by Ken Piek ny
K E N T F I E L D
G L A N C E
F FIRE STATION Kentﬁeld Fire Protection District, 1004 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. D LLIBRARY Larkspur Library, 400 Magnolia Ave. PARKS Creekside Park, Bon Air Rd.; Baltimore Canyon Preserve P POST OFFICE 822 College Ave. P
William 20th century congressman Kentﬁeld is named for early . ods Wo ir ve Mu who led the charge to preser
16 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
PUBLIC SCHOOLS Anthony G. Bacich Elementary, 25 McAllister P Ave.; A.E. Kent Middle School, 250 Stadium Way; Redwood High A School, 395 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; Tamiscal High Alternative, S 3305 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; San Andreas Continuation, 599 William Ave., Larkspur; College of Marin, 835 College Ave. W
David Epstein DDS General, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry
415 897.6453 1701 Novato Boulevard Suite 306 • Novato
Paciﬁ c Sun Home & Garden photo by Ken
The intersection where College Avenue
meets Sir Francis Drake Boulevard has
become the hub of Kentﬁeld. Marin M i eighborhoods 2008 2008–2009 2009 17
Larkspur The Åower of
Stn King Mountain o MarinOpen Space ace Preserve
Cit y Ha ll & Libbra r ryy
or a town named after a case of mistaken botanical identity, Larkspur has done pretty well for itself. In fact, the town recently celebrated its centennial with a festive bash. It might have been different had those who 101 named this burg been better at identifying the area’s Ma abundant wildflowers. Assumed to be larkspur, the gn oli a blossoms were (and are) actually lupines. Fi r e Stn The 100-year anniversary is noteworthy, but the reDr H a gion’s history stretches back further. Until the 1850s, the Pa r m i l t o n o Cre k Elise ek land was unspoiled and covered with ancient redwoods— Corte which the Baltimore and Frederick timber company took care Piper of in short order. Dairy farms sprouted up on the bare hills. King Mountain Park Police Open Space Charles Wright purchased one of those farms in 1882. HalfPreserve Dr a-decade later Wright, now with a number of farms, lobbied the Doherty Northern Pacific Railroad for a station. Told that five residences Post Office Fir were needed to qualify, the determined Wright constructed a Stne King Mountain handful of Victorian houses—and the rail authority City Ha Open Space & Libra ll built a station in 1891. Preserve ry k Wright gave the station’s naming rights to his Through it all, the downPa r ver i Madrone wife, who fancied the pretty blue flowers in her town remained largely unl Ave l Do yard—even if she didn’t know their name. changed, retaining its singular, The Larkspur Rail Station brought an influx charming appeal. In 1982, the U.S. of settlers, and the downtown area quickly grew. DurDepartment of the Interior designated ing the 1880s, a rough-and-tumble mix of farmers and downtown Larkspur a historic area. sawmill workers frequented the 11 saloons lining downToday, visitors and residents enjoy a range town. In 1894, the first school was built at what is now of fine shops, restaurants and activities. Stroll Marin Primary & Middle School. A year later, the Blue Rock Inn along Magnolia (the target of a rejuvenation project launched in Febwas erected at the corner of Magnolia and Ward. Magnolia, known ruary 2008) and you’ll find the Escalle Winery, the picturesque and then as County Road, was an unpaved stretch of dust (or mud in renowned Lark Creek Inn and the Parisian-style eatery Left Bank. the winter) until after 1910, when it was paved and construction of The recently restored Lark Theater screens an array of interesting city hall began. films and puts on a slate of special events. Prohibition led to the closing of most of the rowdy waterSweetwater Station is a fine place to take in live music in an intiing holes (the Silver Peso still survives). As the town’s character mate, cabaret-style setting. The town also hosts several well-attended changed, more people showed up. In 1920, Larkspur had just 600 annual public events, including the classy Food and Flower Festival residents; today, the population is around 12,000. New schools, and a lively Fourth of July shindig. The Larkspur Library, a small gem, including Redwood High, opened in the 1950s and in the late boasts one of the county’s largest collections of audio books and also ’70s, the ferry terminal and Larkspur Landing Shopping Center plenty of old-fashioned bound volumes. were constructed. Like much of Marin, Larkspur is blessed with an embarrassment of riches: scenic beauty; a close-knit population; exemplary businesses; a colorful history; and, by all indications, a bright future. One elderly female resident put it well: “This is just the kind of town that, once you’re here, why would you want to be someplace else? “There aren’t as many places like this as there should be.” Not bad for a place named after the wrong kind of flower. Ave
Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en
photo by Ken Piek ny
L A R K S P U R
G L A N C E
FFIRE STATION 400 Magnolia Ave. LLIBRARY 400 Magnolia Ave. P PARKS Piper Park, Doherty Drive; Magnolia Avenue Park, Magnolia at Alexander M P POST OFFICE 120 Ward St.
e known for its slew Downtown Larkspur was onc
18 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
of rowdy watering holes.
P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Neil Cummins Elementary School, 200 D Doherty Dr.; Hall Middle School, 58 Mohawk (grades 5-8)
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Ai Greenbrae The heartbeat of Central Marin n C Bo
n Scottish, Greenbrae means “green hillside”—a name reflecting its pastoral history and the many trees still present in the neighborhood. d Los C Greenbrae’s borders run loosely from Highway erros rR no a 101 in the east to Manor Road in the west, and M from the Corte Madera Creek in the south to the northern ridgeline adjoining San Rafael. Its Sir Fra nci ar borders are a mystery to many because half of the sD en rak m l A eB homes in Greenbrae are actually within the city boundarlvd d rR 101 ies of Larkspur, while half are unincorpoAi n o rated. It’s not uncommon for one resident Cre B Marin aks ide to pay taxes to Larkspur while the adjoining General Par unincorporated neighbor pays taxes only to k Hospital the county. Creekside Park, a grassy commons next to the Corte Madera Creek and Marin Catholic High School is claimed by residents of both Kentfield and Greenbrae (the park is in Greenbrae). opened, and Bon Air Shopping Center became Most of the homes in Greenbrae, many with views, are situated an unofficial town center, growing to include more in the hills north of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. A collection of than 50 stores and offices. apartments and condos, mostly clustered behind Bon Air Shopping Two other important features appeared in Center, runs to Corte Madera Creek. Greenbrae Boardwalk is a the early 50s: a school and a hospital. Greenbrae tight-knit community of houseboats and homes perched on pillars Elementary School was completed in 1951 sunk into the marsh, floating east of Highway 101 in the Corte and thrived for over the next two decades. But Madera Marsh. attendance waned in the 1970s and, like many other schools of the But the hamlet’s history long predates suburban bliss. Areas of time, Greenbrae Elementary was forced to close, shutting its doors Greenbrae, Ross Valley and the tip of the San Quentin peninsula in 1981. Greenbrae kids now attend Bacich Elementary and Kent were once the Rancho Punta de Quentin, granted by Governor Middle School in the Kentfield School District. Juan Bautista Valentine Alvarado to ship-trader Juan Cooper At the time of Greenbrae’s inception, there were two neighin 1840. Changing hands and sizes many times throughout the boring hospitals, but neither could handle the growing Marin ensuing years, it was a huge dairy ranch when sold to the Catholic population. County residents approved funds for a state-of-the-art diocese of San Francisco. hospital, and the site at Bon Air Road was chosen. Opening in In 1940 land-developer Niels Schultz bought it from the church 1952, Marin General Hospital quickly became the primary healthand began building houses. With families moving in, a place to buy care facility in the county. food and other goods was needed. The first store, Bon Air Super With the hospital, Greenbrae had finally developed into the kind Market, opened in the early 1950s. Over the years, it changed hands of self-contained community Schultz envisioned. The Greenbrae and names (once a pharmacy, later Petrini’s market, it’s currently Property Owners Association acts as a liaison between Greenbrae and a bustling Mollie Stone’s). More shops the outside world, enforcing building restrictions and landscaping laws which protect many giant oaks. Residents have a strong sense of community. Neighbors smile while passing each other, and on many streets there is a welcome party when newbies move in. Some changes have occurred over the years, but the essence of the area has remained largely the same. It’s an eclectic mix of folks who take pride in their community and share an appreciation for the “green hillsides” they call home. —SABINA CHAPMAN Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en
photo by Ken Piek ny
G R E E N B R A E
G L A N C E
FFIRE STATION Kentﬁeld Fire Department, 1004 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. LLIBRARY Larkspur City Hall, ﬁrst ﬂoor; 400 Magnolia Ave. PARK Creekside Park, Bon Air Road P (across from Marin General Hospital) (a P POST OFFICE 822 College Ave., Kentﬁeld
ered largely Greenbrae’s growth was ste
20 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
by developer Niels Schultz.
P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Bacich Elementary School, A.E. Kent Middle S School, Kentﬁeld; Redwood High School,
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Larkspur Landing Soft landings on the shores c i sof Larkspur n Fra
Vil la g e
Old Quarry Rd 101 La nd ur p ing s k r Shopping a L Center cis n a Fr Sir
he Larkspur waterfront is the perfect place to press pause. Windsurfers with their bouncing boards and colorful sails battle the bay winds, ferries pull in and out with passengers going to work or off to enjoy a day shopping in the city and friends gather to hear music, taste microbrews and drink coffee at the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center. This area of land is part of the San Quentin Peninsula, named for the Miwok Indian warrior Quintin, who was a follower of Indian Chief Marin. In the late 1960s, the city of Larkspur annexed the area originally part of the Mexican land grant Rancho Punta de Quentin, which had been awarded to Juan B.R. Cooper in 1840. The area’s history is long past, but the small slice of Marin County is considered a gem by many residents who find themselves meeting friends and family there on a regular basis for sports, entertainment and shopping. Those who’d rather not ride a surfboard while on the water can catch a ferry! The Golden Gate Larkspur Ferry delivers some 1.4 million people between Larkspur and the San Francisco Ferry Building each year. The ferry service was launched after a recommendation from a 1970 transportation plan to add the Larkspur terminal. Between 1972 and 1977 the Golden Gate Bridge District constructed three new ferry vessels. The first of the new Spaulding ferries, the GT Marin, went into service in 1976. The second vessel, the GT Sonoma, was put into service in 1977. In 1978, the San Francisco Ferry Terminal was dedicated. The third ferry was used as an alternate. To save fuel, all three ferries were converted to diesel power and by late 1985 all were in use. The commute and weekend schedules were expanded and ridership increased more than 34 percent. In 1998, services were again expanded with a high-speed catamaran—MV Del Norte. It offered more frequent trips, better departure times and faster crossings. It nearly doubled the number of daily round-trips from 26 to 40. A second highspeed ferry was added in 2001. All of these vessels have been maintained with regular refurbishments and repairs.
N e igg h boo r h o o d
Neighborhood Park Blvd
Golden Gate Ferry
Paciﬁ c Sun Hom e & Gard en photo by Ken Piek ny
While waiting for a ferry, many cross a footbridge over the highway to the shopping center. This area used to be the Hutchinson’s Rock Quarry. Now the bustling Larkspur Landing Shopping Center is a pleasant place to work out, eat, drink and shop. It is surrounded by a myriad of office buildings, offering a great place to take a lunch break or stroll during the workday or after. Central to Larkspur Landing is the live music performed every Friday evening in the summertime, bringing some of the best local bands to play for free. The early music sets offer a great way to relax after a long workweek. Folks flock from all over Marin to drink microbrews at Marin Brewing Company and Noonan’s Bar & Grill or sip wine at Tam Cellars. Other restaurants include E&O Trading Company, Tha Siam and Sushi-Ko. Children enjoy ceramics and crafts at Busy Little Hands and grownups keep in shape at 24-Hour Fitness and the Yoga Studio. East of the landing is Remillard’s Brickyard Kiln, the last remaining building of the brickyard built in 1889. It was declared a state historical landmark and now houses The Melting Pot restaurant. The Larkspur waterfront is definitely a place to visit...and stay a while. —SHELLEY SHEPHERD KLANER
T H E
L A N D I N G
G L A N C E
FIRE STATION 400 Magnolia Ave. LIBRARY 400 Magnolia Ave. PARKS Neighborhood Park, North of Shopping Center POST OFFICE 120 Ward St.
is now The old Larkspur quarry site
housing. teeming with businesses and
22 Paciﬁc Sun - Marin’s Best Every Week
PUBLIC SCHOOLS Neil Cummins Elementary School, 200 Doherty Dr.; Hall Middle School, 58 Mohawk (grades 5-8)
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