Locust Business District

Historic Mill Valley

Interpretive Sign Project

Ted Hubbard map of Locust District
Maps such as this version created for the Locust Merchants Association in 1950, were the work of Alva Travers “Ted” Hubbard, who was a cartoonist, illustrator, mapmaker, staff writer for Sunset Magazine and editor in the 1930s-1950s.

The Locust Business District came to life with the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific train service to downtown Mill Valley in 1889. The nearby train station, located just a block toward downtown Mill Valley, was convenient for businessmen and shoppers headed to San Francisco. The train service stimulated the growth of local businesses serving the nearby community of Homestead Valley and the budding residential areas in Tamalpais Park and Sycamore Park.

The downtown railroad depot was converted to a bus station.

When the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1938, Greyhound buses replaced the passenger train service from Mill Valley to the Sausalito ferry. The tracks on Miller Avenue were left in place for freight trains and two-way traffic traveled the road on the southwest side of the tracks. The other side was for parking.

Miller and Locust Avenue during the 1945 flood shows the remaining train tracks, though passenger service had ceased.

In 1950, the Locust Business District had the largest concentration of automobile sales and service in Marin County. There were auto dealerships, two repair garages, an auto parts store, an automotive machine shop and five service stations, now reduced to two service stations and a few repair shops. In the Quonsets, the Miller Avenue Shopping Center contained a grocery store, meat market, drug store, soda fountain, beauty salon, and post office. After it closed in the 1980s, the first Whole Foods in the Bay Area took the site.

Over the years, Locust Avenue held a market, beauty salon, clothing store and a bakery, later a barbershop and Brothers Tavern, and later still a bead shop and second hand store. Around the corner on Miller Avenue, Casper Gardner developed shops that held

A block away, the 2 AM Club competed with Brothers Tavern for customers, but also in baseball teams and an annual football game, complete with a marching band.

Additional Resources

More information about the Locust area is on the Mill Valley Historical Society’s website. Two Vignettes describe “eating out” on Miller Avenue in 1938 and 1948.