Welcome to the Mill Valley Historical Society

The Old Mill, built by John Thomas Reed around 1836. MVN1328 – Courtesy of the Lucretia Little History Room, Mill Valley Public Library

This website serves to keep our members and visitors informed about the many activities as well as the extensive historical archives pertaining to and related to the history of Mill Valley, California.  If you are not already a member of the Mill Valley Historical Society, whether you live in the area or not we warmly encourage you to go to the BECOME A MEMBER page and see what a yearly bargain it is to join.
We invite all those with an affection for Mill Valley to join and learn about the charming history of this little historic town at the base of Mount Tamalpais. Check the CALENDAR for past and upcoming events and programs. See the news posts below for the latest historical news about Mill Valley and Southern Marin. You can search the posts by the keywords that are listed on the sidebar. And please consider making a DONATION in support of our mission. We hope you enjoy your stay at www.mvhistory.org.

First Wednesday: Bill Champlin: Mill Valley Music & Then Some!

Wednesday, November 4th |7:30pm

1st Wed Nov 2015Join us for a wonderful evening of history, stories and music with Bill Champlin. Singer, guitarist, keyboard player, arranger, producer, songwriter and Mill Valley native Bill Champlin will talk about his early days growing up in Mill Valley and the local roots that contributed to his musical development.
The Opposite Six, Champlin’s first band, was founded during his time at Tamalpais High School and included other Mill Valley natives who later had musical careers of their own. Bill’s second band – The Sons of Champlin – along with other local bands of the time – placed the Bay Area in the forefront of the rock and roll scene in the late 1960s. After 28 years with the band Chicago, Champlin parted ways to focus once again on his solo career.
Bill has performed with many top artists including Patti LaBelle, Lou Rawls, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Donna Summer, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Jimmy Smith, Amy Grant, Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers. In 1978 he released “Single”, his first solo album. In 1979 he won his first Grammy award for co-writing “After the Love is Gone”, which was later recorded by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Over the expanse of a long successful career Champlin has written or sung over 400 songs and has been the recipient of several music awards including two Grammies.  Nonetheless, Bill says his most cherished award is his Millie, given to him by the city of Mill Valley in 2010.

Registration recommended. Click here to register(If registration for this event is full, you will not be able to register. Registration may re-open as cancellations occur, or feel free to stop by the night of the event. We will accommodate non-registered patrons as space is available. )

Reed Grist Mill Stones Dedication at OAC

New plaque.
Who knew? The gristmill stones in the garden of the Outdoor Art Club are probably the oldest historical artifacts in Mill Valley, dating from mid-19th century rancho life in the
Mexican territory of Alta California! Found on the property of Irish-born “Californio” John T. Reed’s adobe home site near what is now Locke and LaGoma in 1906, the basalt gristmill stones and a circular saw had been obtained by Reed in a trade with the Russians at Fort Ross on the Sonoma coast for livestock and hides. Reed was the first Mexican land grantee in Marin Co. (1834), and he built a sawmill on Mill Creek to supply the Presidio with building materials. That mill, a replica of which today stands in Old Mill Park, is what gave Mill Valley its name.

When the gristmill stones were found by Scottish-born pioneer John Burt, a surveyor for the Tamalpais Land & Water Co. and subsequently the superintendent of the North Coast Water Co. (now MMWD) almost three-quarters of a century later, he recognized their significance and brought them to his property on Hillside Ave. In 1897 Burt had married the former Cora Gardner, daughter of Jacob Gardner of the Throckmorton ranch, and it was their niece Gene Stocking, one of the founders of the Mill Valley Historical Society (MVHS) who donated them to the Outdoor Art Club in 1974. The small plaque affixed to them at that time disappeared many years ago.
A few years ago, past MVHS president/ OAC rental docent Joan Murray suggested that a new plaque should be made. Current MVHS Historic Preservation committee chair Lauri Harper agreed, and brought the idea to the MVHS board. The unanimous decision was made to gift the Outdoor Art Club with a new historic marker that explains the stones’ provenance. It is but a small token of the History Society’s appreciation to the Outdoor Art Club for co-sponsoring the annual Walks into History for so many years.

A dedication celebration will take place in the OAC patio on Sept.  9 from 5:30 pm until 7 pm, and all MVHS and OAC members are invited to enjoy a glass of wine and view the display. RSVP to mvhistorical@gmail.com by Sept.6.  More info HERE

The History of the Marin Art & Garden Center

Our friends at the Ross Historical Society present “The History of the Marin Art & Garden Center” on Friday, September 18, at 11:00 am in the Livermore Pavilion at M.A.G.C.

The Moya Library and Ross Historical Society’s Annual Meeting will feature a presentation commemorating the 70th anniversary of M.A.G.C. A new MAGC history booklet prepared by Moya/RHS Board Member Bob Battersby will be available.
Includes a special drawing, and luncheon will follow. Reservation deadline for lunch is September 11th. Please mail $45.00 payment to Moya-RHS, P.O. Box 437, Ross 94957. If you’re attending only the presentation, the $10.00 fee may be paid at the door.
Questions? Call Ruth Barton, 415-461-1972 moya-rhs.org

August 2015 First Wednesday Program – History of Tamalpais Valley

Tam Valley brochure cover-2Presented by Lissa McKee
Lissa McKeeA fifth generation Californian with an MA in History, I have worked for 35 years as an environmental planner and public historian.  I have lived in Tamalpais Valley since 1991.  Thanks to the input from various neighbors, acquaintances and local historians as well as investigations of archival material I will present an overview of the varied layers of Tamalpais Valley history, from Miwok homeland to  hunting preserve, cattle range, dairy ranch, real estate development, and neighbor to the Golden gate recreation Area. [click photos to enlarge] Click HERE for event details.
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