Early Days in Homestead


April, 2001

The October 1967 Homestead Headlines contained an interesting article based on Joan Rosen’s interview with Lance Robinson. Here are excerpts from her article entitled, “TIME PAST.”

“Through the windows of ‘an old Mill Valley house’ Lance Robinson showed me Homestead Valley as it has grown since 1910. The house, built by his mother and father about 60 years ago, holds the charm of all its years in warm redwood, dark and gleaming, worn to its textured grain.

“From here the Robinsons have seen Homestead Valley grow from a place where redwood trees grew up the northern slope, and where one crooked, dusty road looped through several small farms and homesteads to the park and swimming hole near the Stolte’s place.

“After the Earthquake, there was something of a land boom and community enterprise in selling neighborhood lots. Realtors Pimlott and Whorff (with offices at Park Ave. RR station) assisted in a more formalized development called MILLWOOD HEIGHTS (along Edgewood). Their brochure stated that ‘it was a panoramic plateau less than 10 minutes from the RR station, 45 minutes from San Francisco, with climate unsurpassed – neither sultry nor foggy.’ Lots were $200 to $500 with 10% down and $4 to $10 per month payments.

“Three types of people settled Homestead: agriculturalists, office workers and artists. There was never any ‘other side of the tracks.’ In fact, to San Franciscans, it was rather ‘Bohemian’ or ‘racy’ to live here.

“As Homestead grew, the problems of community growth (like bringing in electricity) brought neighbors together, and for these purposes Capt. and Mrs. Robinson (Lance Robinson’s mother and father) helped create the Homestead Valley Improvement Club.

“Children walked to Muir Beach (known then as Big Lagoon) to fish and camp – the trail gently rising through what is now Green Gulch Ranch. Walking was the only way to get around for a youngster then.

“Mill Valley was a town of and for hikes. As many as 5000 to 10,000 hikers came from San Francisco on weekends. Many trudged up the Molino-Edgewood Crest towards the ‘hogsback’ (Mountain Home). At night their ‘bugs’ (a #2-1/2 can with candle and bailing wire handle) danced and twinkled in the distance like fireflies against the black of the mountain. Each family, of course, had its own ‘bug’ hidden away in a stump since there were no lights outside town. It was like stealing a man’s house to steal his ‘bug.’

“After years of travel, Lance Robinson has come back to Homestead, to the house he grew up in, to be with his aging mother.”

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.