The Origins of Sausalito Boulevard

The following story is taken from Jack Tracy’s book “Moments in Time.”

In 1885 Major Orson C. Miller and his wife moved from San Francisco to Sausalito, like so many others, with a plan in mind. Miller found title to the old moribund Saucelito Land & Drydock Company in the hands of a savings and loan society in San Francisco, and by September of 1887 the two had consummated a deal. Miller picked up all the unsold land in Old Town for $25,000.
He immediately set to work, surveying new streets and extending old ones further up the hillsides. He set up an auction house at the corner of Richardson and West Street and published a new map of available lots under the new corporate name: The Sausalito Bay Land Company. Miller’s new map of 1888 shows Sausalito Boulevard for the first time, a sweeping semicircle with panoramic views extending from New Town to the Pacific Yacht Club lands [The Trident, today]. Sausalito Boulevard, with gentle grades suitable for horse-drawn wagons, was the key in revving up interest in Old Town. Central Avenue was also graded as a link between unsold Old Town lots and the lands of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company. The new roads made Old Town more accessible by land. Previously, the only passage was the rock-strewn rough beach called Water Street, which was indeed water at high tide.
“Sausalito: Moments in Time” is published by Windgate Press. It is available at the Ice House, 780 Bridgeway.

Sausalito Boulevard high above Old Town c1890. Courtesy Sausalito Historical Society.


A Meeting of Minds: Alan Olson and Murray Hunt

By Steefenie Wicks
“A Yachting Party:
Captain Mathew Turner, a well-known shipbuilder of Benicia, recently extended to his friends, an invitation on board his brigantine the GALILEE.  The guests had a delightful cruse for a week, visiting many points of interest. As fine entertainers, Captain and Mrs. Turner cannot be challenged.”
 The above is from a newspaper article printed in Benicia in the late 1890’s.  The ship GALILEE, finished in February 1891, made her first runs to Papeete, Tahiti in 22 ½ days and averaged 28 ½ days in 21 consecutive trips.
A few years ago I was able to bring together two men with one thing in common, their personal love and respect for the ship builder Mathew Turner. They were Alan Olson of the educational Tall Ship Society and Murray Hunt, the great-step grandson of Mathew Turner.  Recently, I sat down with Murray and Alan to talk about Mathew Turner and the new tall ship that is being built by Alan’s organization.
Murray Hunt, a very sharp and witty 95 year old, is the great step-grandson of Mathew Turner.  He has for the last few years complied a book on Turner and has filled it with family information and photos of Turner in both Benica and his home in San Francisco. Murray explains that Captain Turner was the second husband of his great grandmother, Ashbeline Mary Smith Rundle: “I grew up with stories of Captain Turner and I wish I had taken more interest in them but he was kind of like the family ‘hero’.  A family man, he married my great grandmother after her husband died. He raised her children as his and made sure they each had a fine education and even named ships that he built after them.”
Murray recalls that the schooner DOLLY was named after his grandmother Charlotte Jane Rundle in 1897 and in 1882 the schooner EVA was named after his great aunt Eva Turner Rundle.  Then in 1889 Turner built another schooner called EVA and this one was named after his mother, Eva Turner Chapman.
I asked Murray what he thought of Alan’s new project, the building of the ship GALILEE, and he said, “It’s wonderful and I’m just glad that I’m alive and can be part of this wonderful piece of maritime history.”
Later, I asked Alan, why the GALILEE?
His response was straightforward:  “When the idea of building a tall ship came about, my organization and I looked around at all the ships that had been built in this area and we kept coming back to the most prolific ship builder of that time, Mathew Turner.  Once we started looking into the Turner boats, he built and designed over 240 wooden sailing ships in his lifetime; it became clear that our choice would be to build the GALILEE.”
Murrayt went on to say, “In her day the GALILEE was the fastest ship designed for transport. Her speed made her a natural for the U.S. Postal service, cargo delivery service and just plain good and safe sailing.  We hope to bring her back and achieve some of that old history that the vessel became known for.
“This GALILEE, will be built from scratch and we hope it will only take between 18 to 20 months, with the help of students and volunteer carpenters.   Currently, my organization, Call of the Sea, takes out around 4,000 students on the Bay in a year.  We are hoping we can take out between 10 to 12 thousand students to teach them about the most important feature of where we live, the water.”
Olson’s plan is to design, build and rig the ship with the same material and methods that Turner used, although the new vessel will have a motor, new electronics and many modern features to help make her journeys a little more comfortable.  Sailing and comfort do go together and Olson, who has skippered the 40 foot cat AWAKENING, the 70 foot brigantine STONE WITCH,  the 54 foot schooner MARAME and numerous other vessels, seems to know what he talking about. Currently, he’s captain of the 100-year-old ocean going tug MIRENE, Stewart Brand’s liveaboard home.
He built his first boat when he was 22 in Minneapolis.  She was a 40-foot catamaran and he sailed her down the Mississippi and into the Caribbean.  He says he always had a calling that seemed to lead him to the sea.  He and Murray start to differ here because when I asked Murray Hunt if he had the same love of sailing he shook his head in reply; it seems he gets seasick.
Hunt goes on to say, “My first water experience was mostly fresh water kayaking.
I joined the Sierra Club River Touring section on the Peninsula when I was living in Menlo Park.  We had a small group that liked to kayak together and we called ourselves the Loma Prieta Paddlers.  We did kayak trips on all the coastal and Foothill Rivers and even did some kayak surfing in Santa Cruz and Bolinas.
 “I envy Alan and what he has accomplished but I’m glad to be a little part of this project. It’s such a great tribute to my great step-grandfather Mathew Turner and for our families. “
Alan adds, “This project helps to maintain the maritime history that we are not only part of but share a duty in keeping this art of ship building alive for our future sailors.”
The brigantine keel-laying ceremony takes place October 19 from 1 to 3 pm at 2330 Marinship Way.

Murray Hunt (front) and Alan Olson.
Photo by Steefenie Wicks


The Old Abandoned Mine

By Larry Clinton, President

In the 1870s, “there was a brief flurry of excitement in Old Town, when manganese was discovered in the hills west of town,” according to Jack Tracy’s Sausalito history book, Moments in Time.  According to Tracy, “The ore found in the rock outcroppings was rich enough to justify small-scale mining. Tunnels were dug near the springs between present-day Prospect Avenue and Sausalito Boulevard.  Henry Eames, an opportunistic inventor, built an ore reduction plant at the foot of Main Street to process the manganese ore.  By 1880 the Saucelito Smelting Works was producing about fifty tons of black oxide annually, hardly enough to make Sausalito a mining center.”

But complications soon arose.  According to Wayne and Linda Bonnett, publishers of Tracy’s Book, “the richest (or easiest to dig) deposits were above the head of Main Street where the springs are. Tunnels were dug all over the place. Naturally, the tunnels quickly and constantly filled with water. When they were abandoned by 1893, the tunnels were sealed. (Some of these sealed tunnels contributed to the landslide in 1982.) The mining operation became a rock quarry, supplying much of the chert blocks that make up the residential rock walls in the area.”

According to the Sausalito News of February, 1893, the property where the smelter had been located was sold to J. Lowder who would build the Walhalla Restaurant there (later morphing into Sally Stanford’s Valhalla).

“The existing tunnel, however, was not sealed up,” report Wayne Bonnett.  “By then it had become an outlet for the springs. It drained spring water from the still unbuilt lots above Sausalito Boulevard and Prospect. The city around 1910 ran overhead drain pipes from the tunnel to a drain on Sausalito Boulevard (still in use) and the iron door was installed to keep kids and others from going inside.

“Over the years, the city maintained the tunnel as a drain, keeping it from collapse as needed. Still, water seeping into it drips from overhead and runs down the ramp portion of Sausalito Boulevard that runs above the tunnel. The city workers would, from time to time, clear weeds from around the iron door, but the outflow usually was a polluted mud hole, convenient only to passing dogs. Paul Meserve and Dale Hawkins were landscape architects and city planners who lived near the spring at 494 Sausalito Boulevard for many years (Paul was on the Planning Commission in the 1970s). They voluntarily cleared the weeds and planted flowers, pickleweed, and shrubs along Sausalito Boulevard, including the spring area.

“When Dale and Paul died in the early 1980s, Sanford and Violeta Autumn and Linda and I decided that the spring would make a fitting memorial for Meserve and Hawkins for their many works on behalf of Sausalito. Sanford Autumn designed it and did the rock work, lining the catch basin in front of the iron door, and making the little waterfalls that seem to tumble naturally from the entrance.

“When the spring entrance project was completed in 1987, we installed the little plaque and held a block party on the driveway ramp across from the spring for residents who lived nearby. For many years after, Violeta and Sanford clipped the grass, cleared the drain, and generally kept the place looking tidy. It needs regular maintenance because the spring-fed water grasses grow so rapidly and the ponds silt up easily. City workers, from time to time, clear the area.”

The tunnel, somewhat overgrown at present, can be viewed on the uphill side of the 500 block of Sausalito Boulevard, just below Crescent.  As Wayne Bonnett puts it, “The tunnel is a footnote to Sausalito history, a remnant of a time when people mainly looked for ways to exploit Sausalito rather than enjoy it.”


The imposing structure on Whaler’s Cove in 1882 is the Saucelito Smelting Works.


Joyce Remak: An Individual in a City of Individuals

by Steefenie Wicks
Joyce Remak, who passed away last month, played an important role in mid 20th-century Sausalito, along with her husband Bill.  
Joyce was born Ursel Mosenthal in Eisenach, Germany on October 20, 1920.  She emigrated to America in 1939 where she settled with her family in Kew Gardens, New York.  She had been trained, as a children’s nurse in England and this was to become her profession in the United States.   
Bill was the founder of S.A.M. (Sausalito Artists and Merchants) and was the talent behind the MarinScope column, “Thaddeus Tigger” in the 70s.   Joyce was very involved with the educational side of Sausalito.  They had no children of their own but were very strong supporters of the Sausalito Nursery School and the Sausalito – Marin City School system.
The following memoir is from an interview that I did with the couple in October, 1990:
Recalling how she got here, Joyce said, “I was living in New York at the time, the year was 1954 and I came out here for a vacation
“I remember that the first night I was here my friend from San Francisco brought me for dinner to Sausalito.   I was so impressed I thought that I was back in Italy and I decided then and there that this is where I would live.   I never went back to New York and I was able to get a job in San Francisco and every weekend I would come to Sausalito and walk around the streets and meet the people … not the tourists, the locals.
“In the spring of 1954 I met Bill Remack, I brought him to Sausalito, told him that this is where we would live.  Then in 1956 we were married, we lived in the Marina district in San Francisco.  For two years we saved money, every weekend we would come to Sausalito, eat at the Glad Hand restaurant where most of the local artists worked.  At that time you could get a good lobster dinner for $3.50 and hear all of the local gossip.  Because we came every weekend the locals started to get to know us, soon we were told about this house for sale.  It was not expensive but for us then it was a lot of money but we were able to put the funds together, and purchased the house for $21,000.”
Bill opened up a 5 and Dime Store on Bridgeway in the 1960s, it was located where the restaurant Winship used to be (it’s now a burger place).
He was very involved in the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce which, along with the social life that they were being introduced too was the beginning of their move into town politics.
“Sausalito is an educational experience,” Joyce would say.  “You could always meet people here who knew more than you did if you were willing to get out, shake a few hands. But you did need to have a bit of a thick skin while you are doing this.  Take for instance the Sausalito Nursery School -- the parties that they use to have were the real social events in this town. People who had kids, people who did not have kids, all got together supporting the school and helping fund many of their projects.
“On Thursday nights you could go to the movies where you could see two movies for the price of one.  Or you could go to the City Council meeting, that was always better than the movies.  That was when City Hall was on Bridgeway, the jail and Council meeting room were connected.
“In order to get to the jail you had to go through the Council meeting room so on Thursday night you not only got to hear what was going on in town but you also got to see who was being arrested.”
Joyce’s volunteer work included the Sausalito/Marin City school programs and helping Sausalito artists produce the first of many local art fairs where at that time only Sausalito residents could participate.  Having spent her early days in Sausalito at the Glad Hand, she wanted to give back to them; special events became a part of that process.
I asked her who was her favorite Sausalito Mayor?
“Sally Stanford, without a doubt, she could look at you, in five minute she could tell you just what she thought of you and she did.  Both Bill and I worked on her campaign to be Mayor; Bea Siedler was a big part of that campaign.  Sally’s campaign slogan was: ‘I’m running the largest restaurant in Sausalito, it’s a business.  I know who’s honest and who’s not and I’ll run your business for you.’  But she always felt that she lacked the one thing that she really wanted, that was to be accepted by the ladies at the Sausalito Woman’s Club.
“So, I became a member of the Woman’s Club, then I wanted to get Sally in but each time she was black-balled.  Years later I realized that one of Sally’s girls had married, was now a member of the Club, and that was why Sally could never become a member. No matter, Sally was on Council till her death.  Only in Sausalito.”
Joyce’s family is planning a memorial service for the end of this month in Santa Rosa.

Joyce Remak relaxing in Sausalito.  Photo by Steefenie Wicks


The Art Festival and the Voodoo Do

By Larry Clinton, President
While schlepping garbage at the Art Festival on Labor Day weekend, I got to wondering about how this whole thing got started.  At the Historical Society’s Research Room, I found some old publications from 1959, which gave me an idea of how far the Festival has come.
In August of that year, a periodical called Marin This Month reported that Sausalito’s fifth Outdoor Art Festival was scheduled for the weekend of August 8 and 9.
Two hundred artists were slated to participate.  “Democratically,” stated the article, the festival would include “hobby painters, many of whom display their efforts for the first time. Prices of paintings range from $5 to $500.”
According to Marin This Month, in 1959 the festival was non-juried, “on the theory that juries tend to uniformity in taste and reflect too specifically the judges. For this show each artist may display whatever among his work he wishes; the general public decides the merits in each particular rapport between artist and purchaser.”
Entertainment included folk and jazz singers, poets, dancers and performances by the Sausalito Little Theatre summer program and Les Abbott’s Gate Theatre Players.
The publication noted that the previous year’s festival “broke all records for such shows in Marin County -- over 25,000 people thronged Sausalito, to the delight of artists and merchants alike.”
Admission in those days was free.
Meanwhile, down on the waterfront, another outdoor event was offering alternative entertainment,
“Rakishly named the Voodoo Do,” according to Marin This Month.
Entrepreneurs of the Voodoo Do were members of the Sausalito Preservation Association, “a group recently formed to protect the rights of waterfront residents. (‘If legal battles fail, maybe witchcraft will prevail,’ murmured one waterfronter.)
The Do was held at Gate 3 opposite the Nevada Street bus stop and featured an open air dance ("Come dance a Zom-balino").  Other entertainment included folk singers and dancers,  jazz bands and something called “boo-bam combos,” which evidently didn’t need any explanation back in the day. Night club comedienne Phyllis Diller, who was appearing at the Purple Onion in San Francisco, also appeared.   Booths sold such arcane items as “wax images, demon cosmetology, charms to ward off civic Babbittry and fetishes for young and old.”
Since the Voodoo Do was a fund raising affair, admission was charged: $1 for adults, 25 cents for children.
My, how times have changed.

Phyllis Diller during her Purple Onion days.
Photo from Google Images