In 1874, upstate New York farmer Ira Cook moved west to San Rafael and purchased the property now known as Boyd Memorial Park. Four years later he commissioned Adam Murray to build a Gothic Revival structure to serve as gatehouse, caretaker’s residence and extra guest housing for the property and his own family home next door.
“The work being done by Mr. Ira Cook … is unique and grand,” the Marin Independent Journal noted during construction, “and when completed, the place will be one of the most beautiful to be found on this coast.”
The Gate House exterior was bordered with flowers and trees that extended up the hill. The two pillars to the right of the house, one of them visible in the far right of the photo above, marked the entrance to the main residence. Inside, the Gate House was adorned with expensive details, including elegant woodwork, decorative doorknobs and marble fireplaces.
Ira Cook’s granddaughter Louise married John F. Boyd, a business partner of Cook’s two gold-mining sons, in 1883 and eventually inherited the estate. The couple named the main residence Maple Lawn and continued to live and raise their family there. When two of their own sons died of complications from rheumatic fever, the Boyds donated the entire property to the City of San Rafael. Boyd Memorial Park was officially dedicated in 1905, and 44 years later it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Boyd Gate House, at 1125 B Street, became home to the Marin History Museum in 1959. You can learn about this building and more than 250 other historical sites in Marin by downloading and using the Marin History Museum’s free application for iPhone, Android device or iPad.