Marin County History
History of the Museum
In celebration of the Marin History Museumís 75th Anniversary, we have created a timeline with key events in the organizationís history.
Boyd Gate House
“The work being done by Mr. Ira Cook, at the corner of Sixth [currently Mission Ave.] and B Street and on the face of the hill to the north, is unique and grand, and when completed, the place will be one of the most beautiful to be found on this coast.”The gardens stretched up the hill behind the gate house with terraces and plantings of ornamental flowers and trees. An adjacent iron-gated entrance (which still exists) and drive-up led to the Cook mansion, Maple Lawn. Inside the Gate House are examples of fine woodwork, elegant plaster ceiling medallions, elaborate brass hinges and doorknobs and marble fireplaces. The Cooks spared no expense in the details of the little house.
In 1874, when Ira Cook came to San Rafael to join his successful Bodie gold-mining sons Dan and Seth, he brought his widowed daughter Theodosia Cook Arner and her daughter Louise Arner. In 1883, his granddaughter Louise married John F. Boyd, a business partner of Dan and Seth Cook. John and Louise had three children: Seth, John and Louise.
John and Louise were mourning the deaths of their two young sons, Seth and John, when they decided a fitting memorial would be to donate the lovely parkland and the Gate House to the City of San Rafael. Boyd Memorial Park was dedicated in 1905. Their daughter Louise Arner Boyd inherited the remaining estate at a very young age and used her fortune to fund her explorations and research in the arctic.
Since 1959, the Boyd Gate House has served as the home of the Marin History Museum (formerly the Marin County Historical Society, founded in 1935), and has delighted visitors with its rich history and Victorian charm.