Sausalito Historical Society NewsLetter Winter - Spring 2019

Moments in Time   



A celebration of those we’ve lost since our last  issue

At times, working on this newsletter felt like attending a really fantastic party. The sort of celebration where everyone you meet is fascinating, and every conversation feels like a window opening to show a new a perspective of a familiar view.

After spending time thinking about the lives these nine Sausalitans and talking with those who knew them, I can say without reservation that the Sausalito Historical Society attracts the best sort people. Every individual profiled here was civic-minded and curious, enthusiastic about Sausalito’s history and generous with their knowledge. We were fortunate to count them among our volunteers, board members, and friends. Their legacy lives on.

This issue is by no means comprehensive. There are people we lost in 2018 and early 2019 who aren’t profiled here. But in this sampling, we hope we’ve captured a bit of the spirit of Sausalito, and the writers, artists, historians, politicians, and everyday Sausalitans who have helped carry that spirit into the 21st century.

–nora sawyer

Doris Lorraine Christman Berdahl

oct, 2, 1928 - sept, 3, 2018

Doris Berdahl (right) with Alice Merrill and Margaret Badger

Doris Berdahl (right) with Alice Merrill and Margaret Badger

Doris was an intellectual force in Sausalito, an astute observer and an avid reader who provided  the public with  insights into both history and current  events.

 As a reporter for the Marinscope in the 1970s and 80s, she covered a range of issues, including school district segregation, historic preservation, and tussles over the environmental impact of waterfront development.

 In the late 1970s she worked on starting an educational and community access TV station. There, she did a weekly half- hour news program, “Agenda,” which covered highlights

of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. She also wrote feature articles for the Marin Council of Agencies and the Ecumenical Association for Housing newsletters.

 Doris’ involvement in Sausalito’s civic life reflected her passion for history and the community. She served on the Sausalito Historical Landmarks Board, and helped write “Noteworthy Structures and Sites” in 1992. She also served on Sausalito’s General Plan Steering Committee in 1995.

 Doris was active in the Sausalito Historical Society for more than four decades, writing the Society’s Marinscope column and serving on the board and as assistant editor for the newsletter, though as editor Margaret Badger recalls, “we both knew whom the real master journalist was!”

 In 1997 she wrote a memo to Phil Frank about a proposal for the Ice House, which was being moved to the head of the boardwalk near the ferry landing. She suggested that the Ice House would “address the needs of our visitors and project the best possible image of Sausalito” as an overall visitor hospitality center with historical exhibits. She proposed  that  a task force with members from the City, Chamber, and local nonprofits collaborate on a successful public relations system.

Doris coordinated the Ice House activities for many years. There, her legacy lives on, providing tourists, local schoolchildren, and other visitors with access to the best possible Sausalito.

–lauri flynn

Linda Bonnett

oct 9, 1939 - sept 22, 2018

Most people reading this newsletter are probably aware of Jack Tracy’s book, Sausalito: Moments in Time. Many probably own a well-thumbed copy. If you’re one of them, flip the book open and you’ll find a note from Jack Tracy, thanking “Wayne and Linda Bonnett, for encouraging me to put it down on paper.”

The Bonnetts did more than just encourage Tracy’s vision – they helped make it happen. Sitting Jack down in front of a tape recorder, they got him talking about Sausalito history. “Our function,” Linda told the Marinscope in 1983, “was to keep him on the track.” They then “transcribed it, unraveled it, and turned to researching it and filling in the gaps.”

A book designer, Linda Bonnett oversaw the layout of the book. She also decided to publish it here in Marin, so that Jack could stay close to the project. “The goal of a regular publisher is to sell books,” she explained. “Our goal was to create a family album for those who call Sausalito home.”

This passion for quality inspired the Bonnetts to start Windgate Press, a small publishing house dedicated to producing what Linda called “nice, friendly things,” books and prints featuring meticulously restored historical photographs that presented each image “as the photographer intended,” with every detail sharp.

 Their work brought them to archives throughout California. Images were often unlabeled, but Linda was a talented detective, deciphering details that placed photos in context. “We like to work with raw collections where people don’t know what to do or how to proceed”, Publisher’s Weekly in 1989. “We like to sculpt books by doing the assembly and design ourselves.” Linda told Publisher’s Weekly in 1989.

Sculpture was an apt metaphor. Linda and Wayne met at the California College of Arts and Crafts, and she earned her Master’s in sculpture at the University of Northern Colorado. Linda taught art, and the pair lived in England for a time. When it was time to move back to the states, they chose Sausalito.

Both were very much involved with civic life, with Wayne serving on the City Council and the Planning Commission while Linda preferred to stay in the background, connecting with people behind the scenes. Though low-key, she was also persistent. When parts of the Marinship were threatened by development, Linda walked from one end of the waterfront to another, spreading word about the proposal and encouraging those impacted by it to get involved.

Days after Linda passed, her friend, then-mayor Joan Cox, adjourned the City Council in her honor, describing Linda as a “force of nature” who worked tirelessly for Sausalito. As Cox concluded, “she will be missed.”


Dorothy Gibson

feb. 9, 1923 - jan. 18, 2019

Dorothy Gibson and friend, year unknown.

Dorothy Gibson and friend, year unknown.

I looked down Dorothy’s driveway at 429 ½ Johnson Street not long after learning she was gone. I wanted a last glimpse of Dorothy Land – the calla lilies along the gravel-and-dirt tracks leading to her camper, her beloved lemon tree, the brown shingled house with skylights, the uneven terrain to the front door where, just inside, she parked her hiking boots. I looked, but when I saw the camper was gone, I didn’t unhook the gate. Better, I thought, to hold back and to remember.

I signed up for Dorothy’s Walkways of Sausalito walking tour in 1998, the year I moved to Sausalito. A small group of us gathered downtown once a week for two months and, if I remember correctly, it rained every time we met. Soon the group thinned to those willing to follow Dorothy up steep staircases, through mud, fast running streamlets and dripping trees. She never faltered, but she did laugh heartily when I conscientiously tried to take notes on a soggy scratch pad.

Over years, Dorothy’s interest in sharing her knowledge  of the out-of-doors and of local history stimulated my interest in learning about Southern Marin. But I think what sticks with me most were our conversations about her cross country camping trips every summer to visit her sister in New England. As a free spirit, her eyes glowed at

the thought of firing up her camper, heading down familiar highways, sequestering in discovered camp grounds, learning the names of rivers and mountains and exploring new trails. She knew I’d practiced wanderlust in my life too and a quiet bond was formed.

Dorothy had a web of supporters, but some were far away. She was both stubbornly independent and accepting of help as needed. For Dorothy, to live was to walk or, second best, to vicariously enjoy watching others biking, walking, skipping, scootering up and down Sausalito hills and along the waterfront. Anything that showed some kick-in-the pants fun… Well, perhaps not “anything.” Dorothy was a Ranger on Mt. Tamalpais and a no-nonsense enforcer of rules when needed!

Most recently, Dorothy was a spirited member of the weekly group Oral Interpretation of Shakespeare offered through Sausalito Village. This adventure in get-it-right character portrayal under the experienced hand of actress/director Judy Holmes was an environment in which Dorothy delighted. On previous occasions, she had enjoyed acting and improvisation classes so Shakespeare oral readers were not surprised when she launched into St. Joan in Henry VI, Part One with such passion as “to stiffen the backbone of the hesitant Dauphin.”

It was a pleasure, Dorothy. Many thanks and good travels.


Carol Hayes

oct 10, 1933 - feb 21, 2018

Carol Hayes and her husband Allan married in 1958, moved to Sausalito, and in 1963 bought and remodeled the hillside home where they raised their two sons, Mark and Keith. One of the couple’s first friends here in town was  the colorful artist Enid Foster, who introduced them to the lively Sausalito art scene that revolved around her.

In 1980, Carol started Summerhouse Antiques, at first part of a collective in San Anselmo. A trip to Santa Fe sparked a lifetime interest in Southwestern Indian pottery, and the business gradually evolved into Summerhouse Indian Art.

Carol joined the Historical Society Board in 2008. She developed the first training manual for research room docents, and her family donated equipment which greatly advanced the Society’s ability to scan and catalogue archival materials

Eventually, the couple began working together on a book about their old friend Enid Foster. Before the book was finished, Carol died suddenly and peacefully after a day spent at the Marin Indian Art Show. Allan was able to finish the book, Enid Foster: Sausalito’s Greatest Forgotten Artist, out now from Roundtree press. One passage evokes the couple’s ongoing love affair with their home town:

If you think 1950s suburbia was all about the mom-in-the- kitchen, father-knows-best stereotype, you didn’t experience Enid’s Sausalito. It was an antic, thrill-a-minute amalgam of bohemian and Beat-Period artists, writers and actors, some of whom became household names, alongside a large gay community at a time when San Francisco’s Castro District was still a colorless working-class neighborhood. We’d heard Sausalito called ‘Fire Island West,’ which wasn’t meant as a compliment. In a 1961 feature, Holiday magazine dismissed Sausalito as ‘a hotbed of clangorous, vehemently dissident individuals with un-American beards.’

Nevertheless, we settled there in 1958. Instead of clangor, we found a welcoming town. We could walk to everything, day or night, we could be whoever we wanted to be and look however we wanted to look, and no one would object or even notice. And we found enchantment every day.

–larry clinton

Cicely Muldoon

feb 26, 1922 - jan 5, 2019

Running a busy home with five boys and two girls is quite an accomplishment, especially when you have an open door for other kids in the neighborhood who love to come to your warm, welcoming home.

Starting out in Omaha, Nebraska, Cis met her husband at Creighton University. They moved to Sausalito after the Second World War. She loved the town and said later that she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It had a wonderful small town feeling and was a great place to raise her kids. In fact the birth of at least two of her sons made headlines in the Sausalito News.

While her children were growing up she became involved in organizations relating to their education and activities, such as the PTA and Scouts. Later she became very active in the Salvage Shop, which sold donated clothing and household items as well as new items given from local stores, with proceeds going to charity. It was an all-volunteer operation with no real “manager” but Cis was often the one whom the other workers went to when they had a problem or question. Sometimes when a problem was brought to her attention, she would say “Get a grip, old girl!”

Cis joined the Sausalito Woman’s Club in 1964 and was involved in many activities over the years. She became President in 1982. One of her passions was bridge and she was quite a whiz, though one of her friends said she was also very patient when playing with new members to the group so they would learn and feel comfortable. In fact, she was a mentor to many of the women and encouraged them to take on roles when they were unsure. Her phrase, “You can do it!” encouraged them to say yes and expand their responsibilities in the SWC. She was also involved in the St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Parish and served as President of the Woman’s Guild in 1972-74.

Friends remember Cis as positive force and always had a way of making things work out. She had a calming influence on people and situations. Though she was a political junkie at the state and national level, she didn’t seem to get involved in local politics. Perhaps she decided neutrality was best for the community she loved so much.

Cis Muldoon was very Irish and much loved for her generosity of spirit and fun loving personality.

–lauri flynn

Donald Keith Olsen

nov 11, 1931 - jan 25, 2019

Don Olsen fell in love with Sausalito the first time he saw it, as an Army engineer from Oklahoma taking in the sights before shipping off to Korea. Sausalito’s hills and waterfront made an impression. When his military service ended,  he and his bride, college sweetheart Sandra, moved to Sausalito. They bought a house on Alexander Avenue and became good friends with their neighbors, often sharing dinners together. Don established his architecture, and set about to serve his new community. Sausalito’s beauty set the tone. “We live in a lush, green environment,” he told the Marinscope in 1971. “The buildings therefore should be quiet and soft.”


His firm worked on many local building projects, including an earlier remodel of the police and fire stations, the Caledonia dentistry building, a renovation of the Casa Madrona, and the redesign of some buildings that are now part of our history, such as the Corner Drugstore and the Creative Arts Store. He wasn’t afraid to go small, and had a hand in designing everything from “buildings to garden gates and signs,” leaving a lasting imprint on the character Sausalito’s streets and byways.

He was in favor of bringing people to the water, making it more accessible to both locals and tourists. In the 1970s, he worked on the Open Waterfront Plan to develop the land along the Bay for residents and visitors alike. As a former visitor himself, Don thought “tourists should be able to leave saying, ‘I’d love to live here.’”

 Don sometimes had trouble remembering names, so he would call people “hotshot” to cover his forgetfulness. His quick smile, charm, and his quirky sense of humor made it work.

 Don liked to view Sausalito on foot. Through the end of 2018, he still took his daily walks, always carrying a notebook, an architectural scale, and a pencil so he could jot down or sketch any idea that came to his mind.

Don was well respected in the community both for his architectural work and his community spirit. As he told the Marinscope, “I like people and I enjoy helping them solve their problems.”

–lauri flynn

Robin Sweeny

aug 19, 1925 - nov 17, 2018

How does one write about Robin Sweeny’s countless contributions to Sausalito in 300 words or less?

City Council members Robin Sweeny, Carol Peltz, Fritz Warren and Sally Stanford, July 4, 1981.

City Council members Robin Sweeny, Carol Peltz, Fritz Warren and Sally Stanford, July 4, 1981.

 Robin, who died last November at the age of 93 and was first and foremost an exemplary citizen and friend. She devoted a lifetime in service to others, as a mother, surgical nurse, city council member, and a tireless volunteer to dozens of community organizations.

Robin was a change-maker. Eighty years after the Sausalito was incorporated Robin became the City’s first female Mayor and, 15 years later, Sausalito’s first female Rotarian. Her opinion as an elder stateswoman mattered to her fellow citizens and to successive City Councils long after she left public office.

Robin was also a peacemaker—how else could one explain her ability to serve a record 28 consecutive years on the sometimes contentious Sausalito City Councils? Nevertheless, her diplomatic and down-to-earth demeanor belied a passion for serving the downtrodden and neglected sectors of our community.

She was a longtime volunteer at the Open Door food ministry and a founder of the Southern Marin Hot Meals program. Robin also defended Sausalito’s maritime heritage and was a longtime Sausalito Historical Society board member and docent.

Ever humble, Robin proudly chaired the garbage detail for the Sausalito Art Festival for years. Robin’s singular claim to fame was that her eponymous park in Sausalito was always called “Nana’s Park” by her granddaughter.

While Robin Sweeny Park may keep her name alive for decades to come, her true legacy is deeply imbedded in the fabric of Sausalito. She serves as an incomparable role model for selfless service, decency and steadfast commitment to preservation that we all should emulate.

–dana whitson

City Council members Robin Sweeny, Carol Peltz, Fritz Warren and Sally Stanford, July 4, 1981.

Steefenie Wicks

dec 4, 1947 - march 19, 2019


On Tuesday March 19, Galilee Harbor residents held an impromptu gathering by the Issaquah Pilot Houses at the harbor entrance, toasting the memory of resident Steefenie Wicks: photographer, writer, historian, and treasured member of the community. The Pilot Houses were special to Steefenie, who had been instrumental in their preservation.

Born in St. Louis, Steefenie came to California in 1969, bringing with her Tom Wicks, the love of her life. The two married and settled in the Haight while she studied photography and cinema at San Francisco State. Upon graduation, she became an intern and archivist for photographer Imogen Cunningham.

After falling in love again, this time with a boat named Tiger Lilly, the pair moved with their daughters to Gate 3 in Sausalito. Steefenie became involved with Art Zone, and with the waterfront community’s struggles to preserve its maritime and artistic heritage. The pair moved to Galilee Harbor in 1984, joining that community’s involvement in the so-called “Houseboat Wars.”

During the 1990’s Steefenie came into possession of some 350 glass-plate negatives salvaged from a photography studio that had been the center of the San Francisco Greek community before and after the earthquake and fire of 1906. She had this historical treasure restored, and shared it with the Greek community, leading to several   exhibits  in the Bay Area and overseas. She donated the negatives to the San Francisco Public Library, where some were used in the recently published book, Greeks in San Francisco.

After Tom passed in 2011, Steefenie delved further into research, producing a wealth of interviews and  articles that ran in the Sausalito Historical Society’s MarinScope column. She also became more involved with the Society’s activities, recording oral histories, serving as a docent in the Research Room, and at the Ice House. Elected to the Historical Society Board in 2014, she chaired successful fund-raising Galas, curated the No Name Bar exhibit, and served a term as Vice President, bringing her trademark verve, energy and panache to every role.

In 2016 Steefenie joined the Sausalito Woman’s Club, performing memorably as “the Creatrix” in the Jinx, serving on the Club’s board and bringing characteristic creativity and vigor to the Club’s activities.

As fellow MarinScope columnist Larry Clinton noted, “There were so many amazing characters in Sausalito, she was interested in all of them!” But now, she herself  has entered into that pantheon of unique characters who will inspire future generations to come and find a home in Sausalito,where they may live and create their life’s dreams.

–tom hoover & larry clinton

John Harris Wilmer

oct 2, 1947 - feb 1, 2019

A stroll down Caledonia Street in the last 21 years often led you to a unique shop and warehouse with art, restored furniture, objects from the past and a box or two of LP records out on the sidewalk.

John and Paris

John and Paris

The John Wilmer Studio at 333 B Caledonia had an open door, and the owner welcomed passersby most days of the year. Sometimes John would be downstairs with his two shelties nearby. At other times he’d be upstairs working on a project with the sander humming and call out “be down in a minute.”. He loved to talk with people and was happy to have them drop by just to chat. John enjoyed telling stories and trying out his latest jokes.

John enjoyed traveling, golfing, playing guitar and hunting for bargains at estate sales. His ultimate passion was creating art. He was a printmaker, photographer and painter.  He lived in several places during his adult life, including New York, where he was part of the art community. That’s where he developed an interest in refinishing antique furniture, which turned into another facet of his career. He became friends with Sausalito historian Phil Frank over their love of reworking antique furniture.

John Wilmer watched the development of Caledonia Street over the years. He saw it transform from mainly resident-servicing businesses, such as nail salons and dry cleaners, to include a Michelin starred restaurant and some high-end shops. John enjoyed his studio being known as a cornerstone in the neighborhood. He encouraged residents and tourists to drop in, say hello and ask about his latest project. Susan Frank commented that he and his studio had quite an impact on Caledonia Street, bringing an energy that brought it to life. He created a residential feeling and made Caledonia part of the neighborhood.

John was more about encouraging community than making money. His thought was to make his end of Caledonia like Mr. Roger’s neighborhood, his young children’s’ favorite program. Part of John Wilmer Studio lives on at 333 B Caledonia at the studio now known as Tivoli.

–lauri flynn & steefenie  wicks

Past Events

On Friday, May 11, the SHS debuted the exhibit “No Name Bar, the Wonder Years” as curated by the late Steefenie Wicks. The exhibit was kicked off by an event at the Sausalito library, where No Name Bar owner Neil Davis , staff and regulars regaled the crowd with stories from the bar’s glory days.

We marched in the IDESST and 4th of July parades, both times wearing the fashions of 1893 in honor of  the quasquicentennial anniversary or Sausalito’s incorporation (that’s the 125th, if you’re not fond of  tongue-twisters).

The cast of “Sausalito History in Ten Minutes,” including au- thor Jerry Taylor and the bust of Sally Stanford as herself.

The cast of “Sausalito History in Ten Minutes,” including au- thor Jerry Taylor and the bust of Sally Stanford as herself.

In September, we kicked off the “Sausalito that Never Was” Exhibit with a chamber of commerce mixer, featuring appetizers donated by Angelino’s and Sushi Ran. Also in September, a cast of thousands performed “Sausalito History in Ten Minutes” as written by Jerry Taylor at Sausalito’s 125th Birthday Celebration.

In November SHS co-sponsored a look at the life and films of Sterling Hayden at the library. Also in November, SHS board member James Scriba curated “The Sausalito Renaissance and the birth of Mid Century Modern in Sausalito” at the Bay Model. Scriba was also behind the night of Beatnik poetry and jazz at Firehouse Coffee.

In January, we co-hosted a celebration at The Pines in Sausalito with the Ice House Plaza Project on the 11th and a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ice House Plaza on the 18th. Later that month, we co-hosted Mike Moyle’s talk on “The Waldo Grade: Highway Through the Hills” at the Sausalito Library.

In March, we launched our “Enid Foster” exhibit, as curated  by Scriba in concert with Allan Hayes. Allan and his late wife Carol are the authors of a book on Enid, their friend, neighbor, and Sausalito’s Greatest Forgotten Artist. Enid Foster: Artist, Sculptor, Poet, Playwright, Creative Force, Ringleader, Cultural Icon is available at the Ice House and at Book Passage

Letter from the president – April 2019


I joke sometimes about the number of both proverbial and actual “hats” I wear (and costumes): 4th of July, Sausalito Art Festival, Halloween, on stages in Sausalito and Tam Valley, with the Sausalito Historical Society as part of our 3rd grade program in the Sausalito-Marin City School District.

In April, the Sausalito Woman’s Club commemorated the 100th anniversary of the building of their Clubhouse. I was honored to join several members of the Club (all women) in a short historical drama about the designing, funding, and building the Clubhouse. I portrayed Frederick Robbins, president of the Bank of Sausalito 100 years ago. Grace McGregor Robbins, an early member of the Club, had passed away a few years prior. In her memory, Frederick donated the land for the building, at the intersection of San Carlos, Central and Sunshine, and matched the final donations, dollar-for-dollar. For his generosity, he was made an honorary member of the Sausalito Woman’s Club!

At that time, 1919, the Bank of Sausalito was at 1035 Water Street. Within a few years, they built the handsome building we know as the Wells Fargo Bank, just a few doors south. Their former home became Sausalito’s City Hall, Police Department and Library. Water Street became Bridgeway, and the buildings were renumbered. (The City Offices moved to the former Central School building in 1975).

A few months ago, representatives of Wells Fargo visited the Phil Frank Research Room, yes, in City Hall, and with our suggestions, Wells Fargo historians and artists created a stunning mural in the former Bank of Sausalito. I urge you to visit. And when the SHS takes the 3rd graders on a historical/architectural tour of Sausalito, we’ll have something new/old/historical to show them.

I treasure these four buildings in this letter, probably just as you do; and I’m thankful for the donors, builders, preservationists, public servants and folks like us who have given us our beautiful home town.

–jerry taylor


On Monday, May 15th, join us for the SHS Annual Membership Meeting at Campbell Hall, 70 Santa Rosa Ave in Sausalito. In addition to our yearly activity report and the election of new members to the SHS Board, the event will include a trip across the street to Christ Church for a look at the church’s recent historical restorations, including the renovation of the church’s 1891 Bergstrom organ as well as presentations Christ Church Rector Chip Barker Larrimore, SHS Board President Jerry Taylor, and other church members. Be sure to stay for the video of intrepid historian Phil Frank going up the Christ Church bell tower. If you haven’t received your invitation (including bios of nominated board members), more information is available on our website.

On Sunday, May 19th, join SHS, the Woman’s Club, Galilee Harbor, and the rest of Steefanie’s family as we celebrate the life of our late board vice president, prolific columnist, photographer, and creative force about town Steefenie Wicks. The event will held at the Sausalito Women’s Club at 120 Central Ave and will begin at 1 PM. Parking is limited, but there will be shuttle service from the commuter lot at the top of Spencer Ave, from Christ Church, and from St. Mary Star of the Sea. Shuttles will run from 12:30 to 1:30, and then from 3:30 to 4:30.

The theme of our fall newsletter will be “Back to School.” We’ll be taking a look at the SHS School Program, and featuring stories of school days in Sausalito. If you or a family member attended Sausalito/Marin City schools and you’d like to contribute a story or photo, please drop by the research room during our regular hours, or email with “Back to School” in the subject line.

Sausalito Historical Society NewsLetter Winter - Spring 2018

The Battle for Incorporation

Portrait of J.E. Slinkey from the Sausalito News

Portrait of J.E. Slinkey from the Sausalito News

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of Sausalito.  That was a significant event in 1893, and like most events hereabouts, it wasn’t without controversy.

Several prominent – and vociferous – citizens opposed the idea, concerned that they would be unduly taxed to pay for improvements to a newly-incorporated town.

The Sausalito News pointed out in its maiden issue (February 12, 1885) that Sausalito “has no local government, but the necessity of incorporating is becoming generally recognized and before long measures will be taken to this end.” Jas. H. Wilkins, editor and proprietor of the paper, made no bones about being a booster for Sausalito’s potential growth and development: “We hope that the News will do effective work in heralding the merits of Sausalito Township to the world, and that it will more than earn any compensation it may receive from its patrons.”

However, the road to incorporation proved rocky. The matter was put to a vote in June 1888, but low voter turnout led to its defeat. By then, the Sausalito News was under the control of J.E. Slinkey and his editor, A.D. Bell. Slinkey had already established himself as a local mover and shaker. According to Sausalito historian Jack Tracy, “He had a hand in almost everything that happened in Sausalito in the 1880s, and his El Monte (Hotel) was a gathering place for political and social groups.” Slinkey and Bell expressed their disappointment with a gloomy report that began, “After the result of Saturday's election we may as well give up all thought of incorporating this town, for more than one reason. Some of our people, while they can grumble at bad government, do not recognize that it is not only their privilege but their highest duty to cast their vote at every election, whether it be municipal, state or national. The lukewarmness of the class that consider themselves so superior to their fellow creatures that it is almost beneath them to touch a ballot, are the bane, and may be the ruin of all government.”

The following year, a Citizens Meeting was held at the San Francisco Yacht Club to hear a report from the committee on incorporation. The News reported that committee members Major O. C. Miller (Owner of the Pines and one time president of the Sausalito Bay Land Company) and Dr. H. J. Crumpton (Postmaster, physician and surgeon) “reported verbally through J. W. Sperry, chairman of the committee, who said: ‘We have considered carefully this matter of incorporation, and while it is perfectly feasible, we believe it is impossible at the present time, owing to opposition from a number of residents on the hill and the Portuguese residents in the valley. The benefits to be derived from incorporation may be seen and more fully appreciated later on and those who are now against the measure may be then convinced of their error’.” Sperry was a prominent landowner who later became the first mayor of Sausalito.

Following the meeting, a new committee was formed to consider the best means for improving Sausalito, either by incorporation or by forming a village improvement society and “the raising of funds by a pro rata levy on the property holders here.”

While the debate dragged on, the Sausalito News continued toeditorialize in favor of the former choice. In January 1891, under new publisher Harry Elliot, the News declared: “Every vote for incorporation is a vote for improvement. Every step in the direction of improvement enhances the value of your property. Every vote for incorporation will assist in the equalization of taxation. Every vote for incorporation is a vote for a good sewer-age system. Every vote for incorporation means that Sausalito wants to become as clean, healthy and attractive a town as there is anywhere. Every vote for incorporation means the bettering of the condition of the masses. Every vote for incorporation is a squelcher on old-fogyism.”

The issue came up again in 1893, but opponents stacked the deck by bringing in outside agitators.  At a meeting in July, the News reported, “a number of boys and nonresidents or electors of the district proposed to be incorporated, were present and took part in the ‘viva voce,’ voting. It would be well to appoint a sergeant-at-arms for future meetings and exclude all who have no interest in the proceedings. Also a list should be prepared, taken from the Great Register, of those electors who reside in the proposed town for even at the preferential election, should one he held, people may vote who have no right to do so. What is wanted is an expression of opinion by the people who will be affected by incorporation and not of outsiders.”

Sausalito’s controversy attracted attention as far away as the town of Wheatland, in Yuba County, where the local newspaper, The Four Corners, stated: “In Sausalito they are having big times over the question of incorporation. No town in the State perhaps has more codfish aristocrats than Sausalito, and they reside on the hill. They feel considerably elevated above the common people below, and these two factions have it hot and heavy as the election approaches.” Codfish Aristocracy was a disparaging term for the nouveau riche in 19th-century Boston, and in this case referred to hill dwellers and summer residents.

Sausalito streets were still unpaved in 1893

Sausalito streets were still unpaved in 1893

In August 1893 the Sausalito News responded: “We are glad to inform the ‘Four Corners’ that a substantial bridge has been constructed over the gulf which kept the rich and poor apart; and from now 'till the polls are closed, wealth and poverty will walk and work with one accord for Incorporation. The ‘dead-line’ est-ablished by plug hats and overalls has been obliterated until the sun g oes down on the 26th of August, and perhaps forever.”

And just a few days later, the townspeople of Sausalito finally voted in favor of incorporation, as reported on September 1, 1893: “At the election last Saturday incorporation was carried, and a full town ticket nominated.” A pro-incorporation slate was elected as Town Trustees, Town Clerk, Treasurer and Constable.  The News particularly gloated over the victory of Stephen S. Fiedler for Treasurer. With 116 votes, Fiedler “caromed over Prof. E. C. Beasley, of ‘Anglo Saxon’ fame, who received 66 votes.”  

But the fight was far from over.  Beasley and his allies contested the result on a few technicalities regarding the notice announcing the election, and the tallying of ballots.  Those charges were dismissed by Superior Court Judge F. M. Angellotti, but the opposition persevered, taking the case to the state Supreme Court. Marin Attorneys Hepburn Wilkins of San Rafael and Robert Harrison of Sausalito represented the interests of incorporation, while G. W. Towle and H. C. Campbell appeared for the plaintiffs, including the apparently indefatigable E.C. Beasley.

Finally, on March 23, 1895, the Sausalito News trumpeted: “INCORPORATION SUSTAINED! Progress Wins!”

The paper, which avoided naming the plaintiffs, referred to them as “silurians” or throwbacks from the third period of the Palaeozoic era; in other words, dinosaurs: “an opinion has been ‘handed down’ and its tenor and drift sustain, in every particular, the prior decision of Judge Angellotti, thus vindicating the judgment of that eminent jurist and placing victory in the hands of friends of progress and development and leaving the silurians free to climb on to the band wagon or go elsewhere.”

Celebrating the 125th Anniversary

The Sausalito Parks and Recreation department will sponsor an historic app-based scavenger hunt starting August 17 and ending September 14. There will be instructions in the email newsletter Sausalito Currents on how to download the app and participate in the scavenger hunt.  And a City birthday party is planned on Saturday September 15 at Marinship Park from 1pm – 3pm. The party will feature a will be 10,000 square foot Big Bounce House plus cupcakes and ice cream as well as a presentation with dignitaries.

“No Name Stories”

Neil Davis (bottom center) with No Name bartenders, back in the day

Neil Davis (bottom center) with No Name bartenders, back in the day

 Neil Davis, past owner of the No Name Bar on Bridgeway, has lent the Sausalito Historical Society memorabilia, documents and objects he collected from his years at the No Name for an exhibit. The grand opening of the exhibit will be Friday May 11, following a presentation, co-sponsored by the Sausalito Library and the Sausalito Historical Society, of “No Name Stories” at the Library at 7 pm that evening. Neil and other bar patrons from the 1959-1974 era will share some of their memories from that time. Neil was hired as the first laborer to tear out the old bar and put in the new one by the original owners of the establishment.  They then decided to train him as their first bartender and eventually he became part owner.  The original five owners couldn’t agree on a name for the bar, and by the time Neil became an owner, everyone was calling it “the no name,” which it remains until this day.

On display in the exhibit will be many items from Neil’s eclectic collection of items he received from patrons of the bar including Spike Africa’s macramé bottles, a Spike Africa “President of the Pacific Ocean” sweatshirt, a Val Bleeker painting, Sterling Hayden’s copy of the “Suddenly” movie script, and Tashi Monroe’s Heath Ceramics pitcher. Also on display will be some of the many documents Neil has collected: notes he received from staff and patrons, news articles about the No Name Bar, pictures of patrons, and notices of events at the bar.

Over 40,000 Visitors

Ice House Sketch by Phil Frank

Ice House Sketch by Phil Frank

 We recently tallied the number of visitors to the Ice House Visitor’s Center in 2016 - it’s 41,391. Visitors asked about everything from Angel Island to the Wine Country, but the most common inquiries were for bus/ferry information, Muir Woods, the Floating Homes, the Marine Mammal Center and restrooms. Visitors also ask for restaurant recommendations and the restaurants most often suggested were Salito’s, Poggio, Spinnaker, Scoma’s, Trident, Napa Valley Burgers, Taste of Rome and Seafood Peddler.  The Ice House is open Tuesday - Sunday from 11:30-4 and has a wonderful historical exhibit, items for sale and docents ready to answer your questions.

Gala Plays to Full House

Jan Wahl narrates while Abbot Chambers mans the projector

Jan Wahl narrates while Abbot Chambers mans the projector

The Historical Society’s annual fundraising Gala on January 16 at the Sausalito Yacht Club was a sold out event. SHS President Jerry Taylor welcomed everyone and City Councilman Joe Burns made brief remarks. The theme for the Gala honored the many films that have been filmed in Sausalito from the 1940’s to our current time.

Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Jan Wahl hosted the event with excerpts from many films that shot here over the years, in collaboration with Sausalito’s Librarian and Director of Communications, Abbot Chambers. Film clips from many movies that have used Sausalito as their background were shown, and a few were presented later in their entirety as part of the Library’s Friday night film series.

Donations Gratefully Accepted

The Historical Society is pleased to accept charitable donations, including cash, marketable securities, bequests and beneficiary designations under revocable trusts, life insurance policies, commercial annuities and retirement plans/charitable remainder trusts.

If you would like to make a charitable donation, please contact

Thanks to Premium Level Members
Members and Major Donors

The Historical Society offers various levels of membership, with additional benefits.  Recently, the following members have taken advantage of the opportunity to increase their support for our programs:


Tom Decker

Mary Ann Griller

Patricia and Thomas Theodores


Duncan Clark

Patricia Lawrence 


Pam and Roger Abenderoth

Anne Baele and John Kouns

Susan and Daniel Daniloff

Lauri Flynn

Evelyn Gilbreath

Susan and Jeff Knowles

Martin Konopaski

Jacqueline Kudler

Janet and Robert Leonard

Jim and Rose-Meri Muldoon

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Robinson

Mary Robinson

Jamie and James Wycoff

Robert Zadek

Information about the various evels of SHS membership and tax-deductible donations can be found at http://www.

R.I.P  Bill Kirsch

Bill Kirsch, photographed by Steefenie Wicks

Bill Kirsch, photographed by Steefenie Wicks

Ex-Historical Society Board Member Bill Kirsch died on February 27 at his home at Commodore Marina. Bill curated a number of exhibits for the SHS, including the works of sculptor Al Sybrian and Poet/Songwriter/Cartoonist Shel Silverstein, who had been his friends.  Those exhibits mostly consisted of memorabilia from Bill’s personal collection.

Just two weeks earlier, the Sausalito Historical Society’s Steefenie Wicks profiled Bill in the MarinScope newspaper. You can read it by going to www.sausalitohistorical scrolling down to “Bill Kirsch: Finding the Magic.”