Scout Hall’s colorful past:
The building now known as Scout Hall has been an integral part of the downtown Mill Valley landscape for more than a century.
At the turn of the 20th century, the building’s location just outside the city limits of the very small and very “dry” town of Mill Valley made it a prime location for a saloon, McInnis’ Tavern. In fact, the area on East Blithedale around Scout Hall was so full of bars, called “blind piggeries,” that it was known as “Jagtown” (“jag” being a term for intoxication).
Over the years, the building also served as a laundry and a stable with a blacksmith shop. On October 6, 1919 the vacant, run-down building was purchased by George and Maria Billings of Mill Valley and was donated by them to the Boy Scouts of Mill Valley.
Over the next several months, $1,500 worth of work on the building was necessary to the building before it could be used by the Scouts. Part of the work was providing heat and electricity to the building.
The American Legion and the Mill Valley Lions Club pitch in to make repairs:
In 1928, the newly installed Mill Valley post of the American Legion undertook a further renovation of Scout Hall. Rooms on either side of the East Blithedale entry were added, along with a stage. The building’s roof was also replaced, at a cost of $500.
The next year, Scout Hall provided an invaluable
service to the community when it was used as a
shelter for refugees from the disastrous July 1929
fire on Mt. Tamalpais that nearly destroyed
By 1954, the older part of the building had fallen into such disrepair that it was condemned by the City of Mill Valley. The city's building inspector urged that the building be torn down, calling it "a menace to life and limb in that there hardly exists anywhere in the structure a sound piece of timber."
He went on to say, "There is no foundation under the exterior walls supporting the older portion of the building, and the blocks supporting the floor of the assembly hall are rotted. The truss supporting the roof rafters is sagging, and the window sash frames are rotted." The building was closed until structural improvements were made and center posts were installed to prevent the roof from collapsing.
Fifteen years later, in 1969, the building was declared a firetrap, and the Mill Valley Lions Club came to the rescue, putting in thousands of man-hours on a general overhaul of the building between 1969 and 1971.
An independent corporation:
In 1959, Mill Valley Scout Hall Inc. became an independent nonprofit corporation and no longer has ties with the Boy Scouts of America.
Once again, it’s time to act:
It’s now been 45 years since the last major upgrade to the building, and the building is showing its age. Every major system of the building, from its foundation to its roof, needs repair or replacement. Once again, it is time to act.
The crowd for the 1971 dedication of the remodeled hall included many local officials, including then-state Senator Peter Behr and Councilman Jerry Hauke. Senator Behr assured the crowd that “No matter how long any one of the youngest persons in this room may live, this building will stand and will continue to be of service“. We can only hope that his prediction will be fulfilled.