(republished from August, 2001)
By 1857, Samuel Throckmorton had assumed complete administration and ownership of Rancho Sausalito, 19,000 acres which the Mexican government had granted to Captain William Richardson in 1838. Throckmorton divided the open cattle range into small dairy ranches which he leased to tenants from the Azores, islands owned by Portugal. Supplying the rapidly growing city of San Francisco with dairy products was far more profitable than cattle ranching which produced hides and tallow for export.
Around 1866, Throckmorton built a lodge, which he called “The Homestead” on the corner of Ethel and Montford. The site had previously been occupied by William Reynolds, who managed Reed’s cattle herds in the early 1850’s. Several farm buildings are evident in early drawings of the lodge. In 1900, “The Homestead” burned down.
Shortly after the Tamalpais Land & Water Co. subdivided Homestead Valley in 1903, Herman Heckman, a carpenter from Wisconsin, bought lots 1, 2 and 3 in Block 3. This triangular piece of property is delineated today by Evergreen Ave., Linden Lane and Ethel Ave. He created the Heckman Tract subdivision of 19 lots, and built a 13-room house on the corner where “The Homestead” had been. At that time, Linden Lane was called Heckman Street and Montford Ave. was called Richardson Street.
In 1909, Cooper’s Grocery opened on Richardson Street, one lot from the corner of Evergreen Ave. The LaVerne post office operated in the store from 1909 to 1914. The 1935 telephone directory lists “J.G. Cooper” at Evergreen and Heckman, and “Homestead Valley Grocery” at Evergreen and Heckman, both with the same phone number, 352.
The 1935 telephone directory lists only two other residences in the Heckman Tract: Mrs. H. E. Heckman at Ethel and Richardson, the site of “The Homestead” and S. Alex White at 128 Evergreen, which is one lot from the corner of Richardson. There were more residences in the Heckman Tract – not everyone had a telephone. Only 66 telephones were listed for all of Homestead Valley. The 1931 directory shows only 12.
The store remained in business until the late 1960’s. It is now a private residence with 120 feet of frontage created from two of the original lots. The Heckman home occupied three of the original lots. It is now an apartment complex with 120 feet of frontage on Ethel and 110 feet on Montford (formerly Richardson St.). So in the last 100 years, the historic triangular piece of property where “The Homestead” and its out buildings stood, is now the Heckman Tract with 16 residential buildings.
If you have comments or questions about this article
or other topics pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.