Homestead School – a Chaotic Start

January, 2010

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 new building 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. There was only one other school in the Mill Valley School District. Homestead School opened on January 13, 1908, with 50 first and second graders who had been attending the school on Summit Ave. Only 19 pupils lived in Homestead Valley; the rest came from Mill Valley, Millwood and Alto. Enrollment averaged 46 for the semester, 28 boys and 18 girls aged 6 to 14. They were categorized into five groups independent of age. The teacher was Coral Coats. She earned $50/month, and is to be commended for her efforts during Homestead School’s first semester. School ended on June 14, 1908.

The second class began on August 3, 1908 with 78 first and second graders, 46 boys and 32 girls. Only 36 lived in Homestead Valley. They were categorized into seven groups. Coral Coats’ salary had been increased to $75/month. School hours were 9 am to 2 pm, with a 20-minute recess in the morning. Lunch was noon to 1 pm. The daily program started out with opening exercises and music for 20 minutes, followed by phonics, number work, marching, reading, spelling, writing and drawing. In April, 1909, 25 pupils transferred to a new school in Tamalpais Park, surely a welcomed change. School ended on June 9, 1909.

The third class began on August 2, 1909 with 29 first and second graders, 18 boys and 11 girls categorized in 4 groups. All lived in Homestead Valley except for two who lived one block from the border. Miss Kelly was the teacher. School ended on June 3, 1910. At last, a more normal school year.

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.