First published in June 2002
The main entrances from Miller to Homestead Valley are Montford, Evergreen and Reed. The business establishments on Miller between Montford and Reed used to be in Homestead Valley. Today they are in Mill Valley. What happened? When? How? Why?
The grand opening of the Miller Avenue Shopping Center on the corner of Miller and Evergreen was 9 AM Friday April 18, 1947. Louis Ferrera was the developer of the property that had been the Doherty Lumber Yard. He poured a concrete pad and erected interconnected Quonset huts. The Shopping Center included his Grocery and Vegetable Departments, Gosser’s Meat Department, Doris Baby Shop, Dorothy’s Beauty Salon, and the G&G Company: a pharmacy, beauty bar, fountain, camera shop and liquor store. Frank Gelardi and Joe Gaidano were Messrs. G&G. This was one of the largest shopping centers in northern California at that time. Today it is Whole Foods. Long time Homestead residents often refer to it as “The Quonsets.”
At the Mill Valley City Council meeting two days before the opening of the shopping center, councilman Harrison Leppo suggested looking into annexing the property on the south side of Miller from Montford to Reed. Mayor Charles Sloan responded that he had been working on this proposal for 2 or 3 months. The April 25, 1947 headline in the Mill Valley Record was, “Miller Avenue Annexation Meets Opposition from Homestead – Meeting Monday to Discuss Proposal.”
The answer to the “why” question is obvious: Mill Valley wanted the sales and real estate tax revenues from the shopping center. As for the “how” question, annexation of 23 commercial lots and 3 residential lots met all the legal requirements of the “Annexation of Uninhabited Territory Act of 1939.” On January 19, 1951, the California Secretary of State certified Ordinance No. 380 of the City of Mill Valley setting forth approval of the annexation of certain uninhabited territory designated as “Miller Avenue Homestead Annexation.”
As a result, Homestead’s community center, Brown’s Hall, became a building in the city of Mill Valley. Several Homestead residents had urged Louis Ferrera and his tenants to oppose the annexation, but to no avail.
Homestead Valley residents must have been shocked when told that Brown’s Hall, the 2AM Club and the Miller Avenue Shopping Center were all located on “Uninhabited Territory”
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.