Brown’s Hall Rescued and Sold


January, 2002

In the late 1950’s, residents of Homestead Valley voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to sell Brown’s Hall. Soon thereafter it resumed its importance for community activities and cultural events.

During the 1963 Candlelight Concert series, the internationally acclaimed Alma Trio gave an outstanding concert in Brown’s Hall before a standing room only audience. Early in the next morning, a fire broke out and destroyed the interior of Brown’s Hall. The cause of the fire was never determined, although a closet containing paint and solvents was suspect.

Having met the challenge of rescuing Brown’s Hall a few years earlier, the Homestead Valley Improvement Club now faced the challenge of reconstructing it. Homestead craftsmen and other residents stepped forward to volunteer their services. But what about the cash required for materials? Rummage sales, special functions and donations helped. But the key to proceeding with reconstruction was a $10,000 loan courageously made by the Mill Valley branch manager of the Bank of America.

Most of the scheduled cultural events had to be canceled or postponed until the hall could be restored. Performances of the Candlelight Concerts, however, were moved to the Del Mar school in Tiburon and later to the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club.

After several months effort, a completely renovated and improved Brown’s Hall was ready for community activities and cultural events. A new conference room had been incorporated into the reconstruction plans. In 1964, the board of directors of the Homestead Valley Improvement Club met there to hear Mill Valley’s mayor and city manager make a formal presentation to annex Homestead Valley. The board voted to reject the proposal. This decision was consistent with responses to other such proposals dating back to 1908.

In the early 1970’s, the recently renamed Homestead Valley Community Association, successor to the Improvement Club, was once again having trouble meeting the expenses of maintaining Brown’s Hall. Real estate taxes owed Mill Valley continued to increase. In 1972 Brown’s Hall was sold to the Buddhists of Marin for their temple. A home on one-acre was purchased for a new community center, conveniently located next to Homestead School.

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.