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June  2018

 E-NEWSLETTER                                                                                       June  2018


IT'S EASY  Click here.


           Museum News     

Announcing a New Newsletter Section!


Our newest addition will be titled From the Collection.  Every month we will feature an item of interest. We hope you enjoy a look inside our Collection.


This Kentfield School pennant was donated to MHM by Dan Waldbillig in 2005. It dates from 1957 and represents a time when the Kentfield School District was building new campuses in response to the ever expanding baby boom. Just two years prior, voters had approved a bond issue to fund the construction of the Wolfe Grade School.

Situated at the base of Wolfe Grade in Kentfield, the Daily Independent Journal announced on March 10, 1973 that despite controversy, the school would likely be known as Bacich School, named after district superintendent Anthony G. Bacich. The controversy surfaced when the School District’s Board voted to change the school’s name without consulting parents or students. The article notes, “Parents say students at Wolfe Grade cannot pronounce the name Anthony G. Bacich, don’t know who he was, and prefer the name Wolfe Grade… Protestors said they meant no disrespect to the late superintendent and his family, but rather that they would prefer to keep the name Wolfe Grade and consider another form of memorial.” The controversy passed and the name change stood.

If you would like to the see the Kentfield Pennant in person, please stop by the Kentfield Greenbrae Historical Society at Bon Air Center in Greenbrae where it is on exhibit in celebration of local school history!

Sources:  The Marin History Museum archives

 Feature Article  

Golden  Gate  Bridge 

First  envisioned  in  1909,  engineers  laid  the  last  quarter  mile

  of  Route  1  from  San  Rafael 

to  the  Sausalito  ferry  in  establishing  Sausalito  as  a  crucial  conn

ection  in  the 

s  opening  that  same 



s  prideful  position  as  the  link  from  Marin  to  San  Francisco  was  cr



  nearly  ninety  thousand  tons  of  steel. 

Click  here






Summers at Violet Terrace 


In 1881, after being rejected from a summer rental because he was Jewish, Lewis Gerstle purchased Violet Terrace in San Rafael for $15,000, nearly $400,000 in 2017 dollars—a good deal in any century. 



Gerstle made numerous improvements to Violet Terrace to fashion the perfect site for summer entertainment for family and friends. As the family grew, servant’s quarters and stables were added. Daughter Clara and her husband, Adolph “Dick” Mack, built their summerhouse uphill of her parents.  


Lewis and his wife, Hannah, often joked about the need to seek ample guests for their fictional “hotel” lest profits fall and fortunes plummet

Source: MHM

In reality, Lewis and Hannah (pictured above) were generous hosts, offering an abundance of food, activities, and leisure fun for their guests.  


During the workweek, male guests endured the long commute to their businesses in San Francisco. The women stayed at Violet Terrace, reading, eating, knitting, playing cards, and occasionally entertaining guests.  



On Sundays, after the men worked up appetites playing tennis, everyone indulged in an elaborate lunch, often picnicking outside. To meet Lewis’s high standards, the thick cream and milk he served came from his own cows. As a gentleman farmer, unique in Marin, Violet Terrace dairy did not come cheap. Lewis would offer his guests champagne or milk, jesting that they both cost the same. Chinese venders delivered the freshest produce. Caterers whose quality met the test sometimes delivered to the backdoor.  


During the day, Violet Terrace’s children enjoyed a wonderland of endless amusements including exploring the redwood forests and tending the family’s farm animals. Hannah dutifully provided plants and


seeds for children who professed to want to garden but were entirely too impatient to let plants mature. Dug up before ripening, undersized vegetables littered the children’s gardens. Tolerant Hannah considered the disarray part of growing up.  


Son-in-law Dick commanded an outgoing personality, which lent itself to entertaining the children. During the day he took them on bike rides, often as far as Fairfax, Kentfield, or Larkspur. Other times he took them to Tiburon to fish for “shiners.” A relatively isolated property, Violet Terrace could be spooky at night, giving Dick the opportunity to tell ghost stories. We can picture the parlor populated with the candle-lit shadows of spellbound children. We hope Dick had an accomplice to rattle a chain or topple a bucket at just the right moment. 


The most anticipated event of the season was the Fourth of July when children tossed firecrackers under the watchful eye of adults. Everyone gathered at night to see fireworks fill the sky.  


                              Source: Jo Haraf

 Source: Jo Haraf

Deeded to the city of San Rafael in 1930, San Rafael’s Gerstle Park remains a welcoming place for families and friends to celebrate personal and national holidays.  

                                                               By DC Koenig 


MHM thanks the family memoir, Lewis and Hannah Gerstle by their grandson Gerstle Mack (1953), for details and inspiration. 


       Faces of Marin        

Source: Clifford Hall

Cesare Pietro Bettini

(December 31, 1889 – July 27, 1964) 

Born in Lombardy, Italy, Cesare Bettini came to California in 1906. For decades, Bettini managed the landscaping, orchard, and livestock at the Gerstle family compound, Violet Terrace. 

A family descendent, Katherine Lilienthal, recalled how “…all of the children used to spend their time with Bettini. He would let them help with the cows and gather the eggs" Ted Lilienthal, a Gerstle great-grandchild, remembered how Bettini "was a stand-in father for us kids. He called me Tito and he explained to me the facts of life." ( 

In 1930, the Gerstles donated Violet Terrace to the city of San Rafael to be used as a park. A requirement of the transfer stated that Bettini be allowed to live on the property until his death.  

One of Victoria and Cesare’s five children, C. Paul Bettini, served as San Rafael's Mayor from 1965 to 1979.  

                                                                By Jo Haraf 


Adolph “Dick” Mack 

(May 13, 1858 - July 7, 1948) 

Adolph Mack was born as the sixth of ten children into a poor New York City family. Nicknamed “Dick”—a shortened version of the German word dickkopf or “stubborn fellow”—he began work at thirteen-years-old, studied pharmacy in the evenings, and eventually came to California along with older brothers Solomon and Julius. After working as a druggist in Visalia, he moved to San Francisco to run Julius’s wholesale drug company.  


By 1882, Dick had become sufficiently prosperous to marry Clara Gerstle on April 26, eventually having five children. In 1898, they built a summerhouse in the Gerstle family compound in San Rafael. To satisfy Lewis Gerstle’s desire for an unobstructed view, the Mack home perched forty-two steps above Clara’s parent’s house. (In the winter of 1905-1906, the Mack house moved down the hill to a new lot. And that is another story…) 


After Clara’s death in 1909, Dick moved in with his widowed sister-in-law Sophie (Gerstle) Lilienthal subsequently marrying Charlotte D. Smith in 1913. In his later years, he traveled to England and Hawaii. He was generous contributor to the San Francisco Jewish Orphan Asylum. 

                                                                 By Jo Haraf 

Community Events of Interest

Saturday June 23     9:00am                                                 San Anselmo Historical Commission                                    Meet at Creek Park

Historical Commissioner Dick Miner’s popular Stroll Through

History returns this year.

Travel back in time with Dick and other members of the Historical Commission on a walking tour through downtown San Anselmo. The tour will highlight San Anselmo’s historic Hub, the role of the railroad in the development of town and the changing character of the businesses and architecture on San Anselmo Avenue over the years. The tour will end at the Historical Museum for refreshments.

RSVP at  
Free Event. Space is limited.

 At The Bay Model



Museum News, Events, Feature Article, Faces of Marin, 100 Years Ago, From the Collection, Community Events


Speakers Series

Marin Revealed Through History Maps

June 28, 7:00pm, Elks Lodge, 1312 Mission Ave., San Rafael

P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182    

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