History of Mairnwood
The area known as Marinwood was a component of the original Spanish Land Grant made to Don Timateo Murphy. The Irishman James Miller; traveling with the Stephens Townsend Murphy Party, arrived in California during 1844. In April 1845 he arrived in San Rafael. Later in 1846, he was able to buy 680 acres of Timothy Murphy’s land, which had been granted to him through Rancho San Pedro, and Santa margarita y Las Gallinas. This land included the present day Marinwood and what became known as Miller Creek. The Miller Creek condominiums are now located on the hill where James Miller had rebuilt an old adobe which was called Miller Hall. In 1864 Miller, who had 10 children by then, donated less than an acre of land close to Miller Creek for the Dixie School to be built upon it. Even though the building still stands it has been relocated to Las Gallinas Avenue in front of the Miller Creek Middle School. It is proudly listed on the Historical Places National Register.
James Miller eventually passed away in 1890. In 1935, his 1,084-acre ranch was purchased by the Sequeira family. The ranch was later operated as a dairy ranch before being sold in 1954 for development. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s Marinwood gradually transformed into the suburban community it is today. This was all brought about by Joseph Eichler, the modernist architect. His stylish and highly recognizable home creations can be seen throughout Eastern Marinwood and Lucas Valley. The centerpieces of the neighborhood, Lucas Valley pool and community center, were constructed by Joseph Eichler as well.
In 1955, the initial homes were constructed near Highway 101, which at the time, was a four-lane undivided highway. Back then, the San Rafael town limits were to the south four miles, at Puerto Suello Hill’s top, and the town limits of Novato were to the north six miles. The Community Services District was established in 1960 to improve local services, especially fire protection, and to secure bond financing. With this bond funding, the Marinwood Park land was purchased and the developments of the firehouse, pool, community center and park were enabled.
In 1972, Marinwood voted to tax itself so the CSD could purchase the ridge of open-space which borders the community in order to keep it from being developed. The initial 321 acres of land purchased has grown to a total of 812 acres with developers being required to keep land as open space.
In 1977, a purchase of 1,267 acres west of Marinwood was made by Star Wars director George Lucas. He later refashioned the land into Skywalker Ranch. Lucas Valley is not a George Lucas namesake. Lucas Valley is named after the 19th-century rancher John Lucas; Timothy Murphy’s nephew.