lagunitas country club HISTORY
In the latter part of the 19th century, Lagunitas Road was the only artery from Ross to Bolinas and was a route used by hikers to Mount Tamalpais. There were also extensive logging operations in the area. To serve travelers and trampers there was established along the route the “Pink Saloon.”
Sometime in the 1880s the property on which stood the Pink Saloon was acquired by Albert Dibblee, Henry F. Allen and a number of others who later transferred it to the Ross Improvement Co. for stock in that company. Among the shareholders, were also Abner Dobie, E.J. McCutchen, the Berry Brothers, E.L. Griffith, and James Coffin.
For a time after the Pink Saloon was disposed of the property was rented to Antone Sousa. In 1901 S.B. McNear and Mrs. E.G. Schmiedell evolved the idea of starting a social club in this location, and the property was rented from the Ross Improvement Co. for that purpose. Shortly thereafter the old buildings on the premises were remodeled and a rancheria tennis court and croquet ground were installed. Thus began the Lagunitas Country Club. Mr. McNear became its first president.
In 1905 the Lagunitas Country Club purchased the property on which it is situated, through creation of an $8,500 bonded indebtedness secured by a deed of trust upon the property.
In 1907 or 1908 the original clubhouse was destroyed by fire. Over the objections of several of the Club’s charter members who wished to sell the property and collect their equity, Mr. McNear engaged the architect John White (partner of the celebrated Bernard Maybeck) who designed and built the present Clubhouse.
During the next few years the Club had its ups and downs, some of the “downs” being of a serious nature. By 1915 the membership had fallen to 42 regular members and some associates. To remedy the situation and at the same time to assure for the members their equity, a holding company known as the Lagunitas Syndicate was formed to assume the then $8,400 bonded indebtedness of the Club, and it issued to the Club 126 shares of its capital stock.
For some 25 years, the Club proceeded under this financial arrangement. Then in 1942 a group headed by Wakefield Baker, to whom is due in great measure the Club’s present solid financial status, arranged to buy back the Club’s property from the syndicate.
Over the years the Club’s facilities were expanded, the number of tennis courts increased to four and a covered squash court, barbecue pits, and a few minute one-room cottages for summer use were added.
Until the disintegration of the shell courts, they had a reputation among ranking tennis players as being the finest upon which they had ever played.
Many international champions have played on our courts, among them Maurice MacLaughlin, Helen Wills, and William Johnston.
In recent years the building of the swimming pool has greatly increased the use of the Club. This fine addition completed in 1953 near the site of the demolished squash court was made possible primarily through the efforts and direction of R.A.L. Menzies, J.E. Cahill, and architect Adrian Malone.
At the time the Club was purchased from the syndicate it was with the understanding that the members would never permit its exploitation for commercial purposes but would foster its use solely for the pleasure of the membership, their families and friends.
In January 1958 the Club, taking note of the increasingly crowded tennis courts and rapidly expanding number of potential junior members, purchased an additional 1.3 acres of adjoining property. In the course of the following year a thorough study was made of the Club’s membership policies, facilities, and finances by a special Planning Committee. On the strength of this committee’s report the membership, at the 1959 annual meeting, voted for substantial changes in membership structure and a $30,000 program of capital improvements, including construction of two new tennis courts and major repairs and improvements to the Clubhouse. In 1977 the Club membership voted to construct two platform tennis courts on the edge of the hill south of tennis courts three and four. In 1983 a small redwood Tennis Pro Shop was added on the hillside south of the swimming pool.
The Lagunitas Country Club today enjoys a special charm and possesses unique characteristics. These derive from a combination of attributes, principal among them being a beautiful wooded natural setting, a delightful and hospitable club building and a limited membership.
These reflect in large part the original direction of the Club membership which was to be able to enjoy one of the finest of athletic sports, in ideal surroundings, with agreeable people well known to each other. The social aspects were auxiliary to the pursuing of the sport, with most of the participants in social activities being the same who were active in tennis. The social events have for the most part been quite delightful, perhaps because of the high level of acquaintance among members and the small size of the membership.