In 1905, the Tamalpais Land & Water Company donated a half-acre parcel on the corner of Janes and Montford as the site of the first school in Homestead Valley. In 1907, the Mill Valley School District voters approved a school bond tax. A two-room school built in 1907 at a cost of about $4000 opened in January 1908 with 60 pupils. It was described as “a well built frame structure containing two large, well ventilated, class rooms, ante rooms, and a big basement.” William Mahoney was the architect.
Here’s what happened to the building in the late 1920’s. It was cut in half, and the two parts were separated. The result was two large houses, each on its own lot. They’ve been modified somewhat since then, but if you turn up Janes from Montford you can tell that the first two houses on the left were once one building. The rest of the story is folklore. The two families who lived in these houses for many years were good friends. When the husband in one house and the wife in the other house died, the widower and widow decided to be married, and live in one of the houses. Who moved in with whom? The question remains unanswered.
In 1920, the Mill Valley School District bought a 1.7-acre parcel on the corner of Melrose and Montford for $2,250. A new two-room school was constructed. It opened in November 1921 and was initially named Laverne Public School. Edna Maguire, a UC-Berkeley graduate with teaching experience in central California was the first principal-teacher. In 1927 she assumed the same position at Tamalpais Park School. She retired from the Mill Valley system in 1954. In 1956, Edna Maguire School opened in Alto.
Classes were large in the 1920’s. Mrs. Keith McLellan one year confronted 52 children in four grades. Incidentally, she walked two miles to school from her home at 211 Summit Avenue in Mill Valley.
In the 1930’s the school, now known as Homestead School, closed for lack of pupils. In 1948 it was reopened for grades one to three. In 1949 a second building with three classrooms was built. In 1954 another building with three classrooms was constructed. In 1966, the original 2-room school built in 1920 was demolished. “Portables” were brought in supplementing the permanent classrooms to serve grades kindergarten through 6.
In 1983 Homestead School was once again closed for lack of pupils. The classrooms were leased to various private enterprises. In 1992 the Mill Valley School District leased the school to Marin Horizon School which made many improvements to the physical plant. Summer school began in June and a full toddler through eighth grade primary program began in September. And the future of Homestead School? The question remains unanswered.
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.