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Marin history: Sausalito’s ‘Flirtation Club’

Courtesy of Marin History Museum

Sausalito’s “Flirtation Club” in 1885.

By Scott Fletcher | Marin History Museum

September 3, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Sausalito’s “Flirtation Club”

By today’s standards the mixed gathering “Flirtation Club” seems rather proper and sedate. However, in the latter part of the 19th century such clubs where young, unmarried men and women would gather for socializing were thought by many to be indiscreet, if not downright improper.

Pictured on the right with her eye firmly fixed on the young couples is the official chaperone, Mrs. Q.T. Marian. She is assisted in her duties by the slightly older couple in the rear, the Rev. Frederick Wilcox Reed and his wife, Ellie Avery Reed.

The photograph has a rare whimsical spontaneity for the era that obviously reflects the spirit of the group. The Reeds were leading citizens in the early days of Southern Marin, mostly through their efforts to bring the Episcopal faith to Marin County. In 1882 the Rev. Reed became the first rector of the Sausalito Anglican parish and was very much involved in planning and building Christ Episcopal Church that still stands on a hillside overlooking the Sausalito harbor. Three years later he married Ellie Avery, the daughter of Francis Avery, a fellow parishioner and secretary of the Sausalito Land & Ferry Co.

During this time, the Rev. Reed performed monthly services in family homes for the growing community of Tiburon until the formation of St. Stephen’s parish. The couple also traveled north by buggy to establish the first Sunday school class for the children of Mill Valley. It was their vision to create an Episcopal parish there, but tragedy took the Rev. Reed in 189, then just 31.  On a return trip from Europe, he died of tuberculosis in New York City, having suffered symptoms for the previous two years. His wife continued teaching the Sunday school class and arranged for services to be performed in the redwood-encircled spot where the Church of Our Savior in Mill Valley now sits.

As a memorial to her late husband, she was instrumental in providing all the funding for the construction of the church on land donated by the Tamalpais Land & Water Co. Along with being leaders in the religious communities of Southern Marin, this image also documents the couple’s warmth and affection for each other and the young men and women of their parish.

History Watch is written by Scott Fletcher, a volunteer at the Marin History Museum, marinhistory.org. Images included in History Watch are available for purchase by calling 415-382-1182 or by email at info@marinhistory.org.


P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182              info@marinhistory.org


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