A History of Volunteering and Community

 Sewing Bee at Tomales Town Hall to benefit Earthquake Refugees, 1906. Photo: Ella Jorgensen; courtesy Tomales Regional History Center.

Sewing Bee at Tomales Town Hall to benefit Earthquake Refugees, 1906. Photo: Ella Jorgensen; courtesy Tomales Regional History Center.

The Tomales Town Hall may have seen more varieties of involvement — educational, political, artistic, and social — than any other building for miles around. It was built in 1874 when Tomales was the center of this agricultural area, a small 24-year-old frontier town that, with its once busy silted-in port all but shut down, was already emerging into its second phase of life.

One of the first events at the brand new Hall was on the evening of January 7, 1875 when locals celebrated until dawn the arrival of the first train to Tomales. It must have been a happy group of neighbors, proud and optimistic about the future of their new little town.

The Town Hall was originally the Tomales Temperance Social Club (surely an anomaly—or at least a counter force — among a population Bray Dickinson said included "a boisterous, cursing, tobacco-chewing, hard-drinking crowd...") Soon it was simply being called the Public Hall.

Built by the settlers for the community, the Hall has continually benefited from the ingenuity, creativity, and hard work of countless volunteers. From the Druids and Odd Fellows to members of the Farm Center and the 4-H Club, from the earliest members of the Italian, Swiss, and Portuguese Societies to our neighbors and friends-of-neighbors today, the Tomales Town Hall has a way of inspiring participation of all kinds.