Preservation of the Historic Clubhouse

The building’s configuration has been modified over the years in keeping with changing club needs and customs. Notwithstanding the temperance sensibilities of at least some founders, the local newspaper reported that during Prohibition years Sausalito’s local druggist purportedly arranged to have quantities of pure grain alcohol (with a few juniper berries thrown in for good measure) delivered to the Club for consumption at social events.

In 1939, with Prohibition repealed, a bar was outfitted in the northeast corner of the building. A mural painted by Leonard Sutton Wood (with assistance from John Stump and George Ashley) serves as the backdrop. Wood, the husband of member Edith Wood, also designed the sign that was installed in front of the Club in 1937. Ashley painted the Sausalito landscape that hangs over the fireplace in the main hall.

Other improvements to the building and grounds included placement of the antique Japanese lotus lantern in the front garden, which was donated from Mr. Robbins’ estate in 1933 following his death. The kitchen was “remodeled” in 1937 at a cost of $388.  The original floor on the first story was replaced with white oak in 1947. The ornate wooden rolling bar in use today was designed and constructed in 1990 by member husbands Leonard Kaprielian and Ken Elkington.

Clubhouse maintenance is an ongoing endeavor, with roof replacement, painting of the exterior and refinishing of the floors occurring periodically over the years. Following more than 70 years of continuous usage, a major restoration was needed. Toward that end, the Club hired an architect in 1992 to create a master plan for improvements to the clubhouse. 

Phased implementation of the master plan began under the leadership of the Club’s newly formed Preservation Society (SWCPS). The first priority was a complex earthquake retrofit which included replacement of the main structural beam in the building. Other master plan improvements included installation of fire sprinklers and updating of electrical systems, the furnace, drainage and retaining walls in the lower garden. Over a period of time, selected windows and doors were replaced and the stairs were carpeted.

Making the clubhouse accessible to persons with disabilities was another key element of the master plan. The front patio and building entrance have been modified to meet accessibility standards. The former bar area (later a storage closet) was converted into an accessible restroom, along with restoration of the 1939 wall mural.

A full remodel of the clubhouse kitchen was completed in 2007. The design, a collaboration of the SWCPS, Architectural Liaison, a kitchen committee and a local architect, provided the Club members an up-to-date facility for preparing the culinary creations that Club members have come to enjoy and expect. Sales from a member-created cookbook netted over $30,000 for the kitchen construction, which was supplemented by a capital campaign orchestrated by the SWPCS.

Throughout all of these building projects, the clubhouse’s historic integrity, including many of the original materials, has been carefully preserved. In recognition of its historic significance to the Sausalito community and the provenance of Julia Morgan’s design, the clubhouse was named Sausalito Historic Landmark #1 in 1976 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, a distinction afforded to less than 2500 historic sites in California. The Club also received a California Preservation Foundation award in 1995 for the restoration work.

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