History in the Making: Sausalito Historical Society Seeks Donations to Fuel New State-of-the-Art Museum

The tales of Sausalito’s earlier days are rich and plentiful from those of Azorean immigrants who built boatyards and established Marin’s early dairies, to others of the shipyard workers who led to the founding of Marin City.

Since 1975, the Sausalito Historical Society has been the keeper and teacher of these locally significant accounts, and then some. The historical society has served countless community members, including Sausalito Marin City School District third-graders, who docents have regaled for 14 years and counting. 

sausalito historic society
Sausalito Mayor Jill Hoffman, Tom Theodorus and Trisha Smith. Photo by Gary Ferber.

Now, the SHS aims to refine and improve its teaching tools with an overhaul of the Sausalito Ice House Museum. The new Ice House Museum will replace a dated and crowded historical exhibit in Sausalito’s historic downtown with a state-of-the-art, interactive local history museum designed to serve a diverse audience of students, visitors and residents. It will feature a kaleidoscope of people who have left their mark on Sausalito’s land, water and cultural heritage, beginning with the indigenous Coast Miwok inhabitants.

Exhibit Designers, Donald Sibbett and Brianna Cutts
Exhibit Designers Donald Sibbett and Brianna Cutts. Photo by Gary Ferber.

With a goal of opening the new hands-on learning center in the summer of 2022, the SHS is currently in the midst of a donation campaign to raise $150,000. 

Donations to the project will ensure the SHS can make a difference by:

  • Providing economic recovery stimulus for downtown Sausalito, which lost revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a December 2020 survey, representatives from 42% of Sausalito businesses reported COVID-related income losses of 50%-100%.  
  • Expanding accessibility for persons with disabilities through new accommodations for those with mobility, visual, auditory and cognitive disabilities.
  • Providing economically disadvantaged visitors in a transit-intensive location — a ferry and Marin/San Francisco bus service are among the local transportation options — with a free opportunity to experience the rich multicultural history of Sausalito and Marin City.
  • Continuing to actively collaborate with the Marin City community. SHS has co-sponsored an acclaimed play in Marin City and an online program on the life of Joseph James, a Black WWII Marinship worker who led a successful discrimination suit on behalf of Black workers. A man born in Marin City, who also is a SHS board member and school docent, played the part of Joseph James in both productions.
Mikayla and Romona Mays
Mikayla and Romona Mays, major sponsors. Photo by Gary Ferber.

Currently, the campaign for the Ice House Museum has raised $125,000, with major contributions totaling $60,000 (with matching donations) from Ramona Mays, Mikayla Mays and Kala Stroup, in memory of John Mays. Additional major donors include Casa Madrona Hotel, The Inn Above Tide and Poggio Trattoria. The County of Marin, meanwhile, provided a $5,000 Community Services Grant, and the City of Sausalito has been a long-term pro-bono lessor of the Ice House building and land to the SHS.

Sausalito historic society
Jola Anderson and Joanne Horning. Photo by Gary Ferber.

On Saturday May 14, 2022, major donors and others are invited to join for the Sausalito Historical Society Ice House Museum Gala, a celebration and fundraiser at The Pines Mansion in Sausalito from 6-9 p.m. The evening will feature music, hors d’oeuvres, wines, and live and silent auctions. Purchase tickets here.

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