In 1904, Lillian Ferguson named her house and garden, a three-acre estate at the end of Montford Ave., “Three Groves.” In 1974, the property was split so that the house could be privately owned and most of the garden could be purchased with funds from the 1973 open space bond issue. The owner of the house, Mrs. Dorothy Noble, recently widowed and remarried, had moved to her husband’s home in San Francisco. The house was rented until 1979 when she sold it to a nephew of her husband.
Two couples rented the house at Three Groves from 1974 to 1979. The men were sound engineers for Hot Tuna, an outgrowth of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. In June 1975, a wedding ceremony was held in Three Groves. The groom was Pete Sears, British-born pianist and bassist of Jefferson Starship.The bride was Jeanette Dilger of Mill Valley. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Guests were ferried to Three Groves from the Tam High parking lot in a Rolls Royce. Some wore formal attire complete with top hat. Rock stars were well represented including Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, John Barbata, Marty Balin and David Freiberg.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
“Rock Stars Unplugged. The biggest rock wedding in ages—the biggest ever within the ensemble of Jefferson Starship, nee Airplane—sounded through the Mill Valley wildwood yesterday. And what sound did it sound? Man, would you believe Haydn’s Lark Quartet, and Mozart’s Hunt Quartet and his Dissonant Quartet. With the non-electric Homestead Valley Quartet on catguts? Meantime, through the neighboring redwood grove [Stolte Grove] came the faint sing-song of rondelets from a competing party thrown by the Homestead Valley PTA.” [Amplified sound is prohibited in both Three Groves and Stolte Grove.]
This was the first of many wedding ceremonies in Three Groves—often half a dozen each summer. An altar and folding chairs would be set up on the large south lawn. Musicians performed on an adjacent lawn. Sometimes a reception followed on the north lawn. More often, the reception was held in Stolte Grove where the stage was used for entertainers and dancing.
By 1990, nearby redwood trees had grown so tall that the sun did not shine on the south lawn in Three Groves. Grass could not survive. A restoration attempt was unsuccessful. Wedding ceremonies were henceforth not permitted—the south lawn is now covered with wood chips. It is unlikely that Three Groves will ever see a wedding like the first one.
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.