Homestead in the Thirties
The stock market crash near the end of the roaring twenties led to the depression of the thirties. Folks who lived in Homestead Valley during the thirties say that times were tough, so tough in fact that Homestead School had to close for lack of pupils. Few homes had telephones, only 12 in 1931, although this increased to 66 by 1935. Automobiles were rare. Streets were unpaved. A few wooden sidewalks were still in existence. One got around mostly on bicycles, horses or shank’s mare.
With the repeal of prohibition in 1933, Joe Hornsby purchased the out-of-business grain and feed store on the corner of Montford and Miller and established a bar called The Brown Jug. Joe left in 1935 after a divorce from his wife Simiana Silva, daughter of chicken rancher Joaquin A. Silva. Joe’s tear-jerking good-bye letter to Simiana focuses on how much he would miss their five year old daughter Eunice.
Also in 1933, Bill Brown, a grocer on the corner of Montford and Ethel, loaned the Homestead Progressive Club $2000 to build a community center on Miller Avenue just two doors down from The Brown Jug.Local carpenters and other residents volunteered their time for the construction of Brown’s Hall which became the center of Homestead’s community activities, carpenters union meetings, boy scout meetings, dances, etc.
Brown’s Hall and The Brown Jug probably helped Homestead residents get through the tough times of the thirties. One can imagine them attending a political meeting of the Homestead Progressive Club in Brown’s Hall and then adjourning to the Brown Jug. Bars in the city of Mill Valley had to close at 10 PM, but The Brown Jug which was outside the city limits stayed open until 2AM. It therefore became known as the 2AM Club. In 1947, the city of Mill Valley annexed the two-block long commercial strip on Miller Avenue. The 2AM Club as well as Brown’s Hall became part of Mill Valley.
Across Montford from The Brown Jug was Bill’s Super Service Station which sold 76 gasoline. Next door was an automobile dealership for Willys and Pontiac which provided lubrication services, painting and towing. These establishments were part of the Locust shopping area, which was begun in 1929. It was the first commercial development outside the town center of Mill Valley. After the Golden Gate Bridge was finished in 1937, business improved as more people and more cars arrived. Some stayed.
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.