Larkspur Past and Present
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Every step of the way through this multi-location cache, you see elements of the architectural features in historic downtown Larkspur dating back a century or more.
Larkspur is a small city of just under 4 square miles nestled between the eastern slopes of Mt. Tamalpais and the shores of the San Francisco Bay in the lower Ross Valley of Marin County. Named after a small violet colored wild flower, the most prevalent community feature is a downtown district which has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1982.
The City was incorporated in 1908, but non-native settlers came into the area for lumbering and ranching after Mexican land grants were given to John Reed (1834) and John Cooper (1840).
Towards the end of the 19th Century, a railroad station was the goal of land developer C.W. Wright. Northwestern Pacific agreed to build a station and provide service if Wright built five more homes.
Wright fulfilled his part of the agreement with five Country Victorians. The North Pacific Coast Station was completed in 1891. The station was the hub and heart of Larkspur in its heyday.
On this site, there was the home of the station master, a baggage room, and the warehouse. What remains now can be found at initial set of coordinates.
For the first two stages, there are historic preservation markers on the structures. Don't use dates that may be etched into the sidewalks.
The year this structure was built will provide the information for other coordinates. Assign the first digit to A and the third digit to B.
Now proceed to N 37° 56.A48, W 122° 32.ABA. This location was originally the Tamalpais Grocery Store. This building features an Italianate façade, four slanted bays, and a cornice decorated with dentils.
It is not known exactly when the store was originally built, but they do know it is before a certain year. Assign the third digit of this year to C and the fourth digit to D for other coordinates.
One of the five Country Victorians built by Wright can be found a block away. It is located at N 37° 56.A37, W 122° 32.BCC.
The home retains distinctive shingled cross-gable roof and decorative trim. In the 1900’s, it belonged to Al Newman, a song and dance man dubbed as “Happy Al”, who worked professionally in San Francisco.
Assign the second digit of street address to E.
Proceed now to N 37° 55.DBE, W 122° 32.A5B. This will take you to the southern boundary of the historic district. Nearby is a two-story home originally owned by “Crazy Murphy”, a man known for his bizarre behavior. Preserved are features like the shiplap siding, a boxed cornice with brackets, and double-hung windows with decorated lintels.
Use the first digit of the street address of this structure and assign it to F. Add the value of all three digits together and assign it to G.
Backtrack to N 37° 55.GG5, W 122° 32.FA3.
Early planning in Larkspur consisted of street grids irrespective of topography and other features that may have made access difficult. The inaccessible ones are now called “paper streets”. The cache is hidden off to the side near the end of this “street”. Bring your own writing instruments to log it.
As you walk back to your car, enjoy the rest of the downtown. Visit City Hall at 400 Magnolia Avenue if you have time. This Mission Revival style building with influences of Italian Villa was designed by San Francisco architect Charles Claussen and completed in 1913.
There are old pictures and artifacts displayed on both floors. Go in the library and look at the 1991 and 2010 editions of Larkspur Past and Present which details all the city’s historic buildings.
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