Mill Valley, Marin County
North Bay Loop area, San Francisco Bay Area region
Mill Valley is justly renowned for its well-designed "new" library in a scenic, steep redwood canyon near the village's original old mill. Few recognize the Old Carnegie library, now a residence, a block up the hill from the town center and old railroad depot. On a hillside site in a neighborhood of brown shingled residences, its brick facade and Classical elements are almost hidden behind vines and tall shrubs.
Mill Valley's first library was based on a private collection of books belonging to the Outdoor Art Club, a woman's group dedicated to "protection of trees and birds." In 1908 the books were given to the city which housed them in temporary locations until a Carnegie grant of $10,000 was received in 1910; more was unsuccessfully sought to meet building costs reported to be $22,500. Architect C.H. Russell designed the building; Robert Tros was the builder. When the new library was completed, the Carnegie building was sold to a private purchaser for $16,000. It has since been resold, and has served as both multiple and single family residence and studio. The Carnegie cornerstone is on display in the History Room of the new library.