Welcome to San Anselmo
Population: 12,580 approximate
Sunny San Anselmo’s climate, rich history, inviting downtown, excellent schools, and strong sense of community make it a wonderful place to visit and live. Since the days when the Coast Miwoks roamed the oak studded hills and fished the fresh waters of San Anselmo Creek, the climate, the beauty and serenity of San Anselmo have appealed to all who have passed through this special town.
Sunset Magazine readers voted San Anselmo Best in the West for antiquing, and the town is distinguished as the Northern California Antique Capital. Award winning restaurants, street cafes, galleries, antique shops, boutiques and a small winery contribute to downtown San Anselmo’s charming atmosphere. Self guided walking tours of the downtown area are available at Town Hall.
Some of San Anselmo’s many other attractions include the Robson Harrington House and Park, the Carnegie Library and the American Legion Log Cabin. Annual events such as the Art and Design Festival, Antiques Fair and town wide antique sale, draw visitors from the surrounding communities and the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
The History Of Anselmo
Most of what we now know as the Seminary area and downtown San Anselmo, from the Hub, westward toward Fairfax and Sleepy Hollow was part of a Mexican government land grant to the Sais family, Canada de Herrera. San Anselmo was mostly pastoral until 1874 when the North Pacific Coast Railroad added to its line a spur track from San Anselmo to San Rafael. In 1875, the railroad completed a line from Sausalito to Tamales via San Anselmo.
For a few years, the town was referred to on railroad maps as Junction, but in 1883, the name San Anselmo came back into use. Railroad officials eager to see towns and passengers along its line encouraged some feverish real estate activity, but it was not until the San Francisco Theological Seminary relocated its school from San Francisco in 1892 that the town began to grow.
Castle like grand stone masonry buildings stand like sentinels on the knoll above Ross Valley. The hilltop and surrounding grounds are favorites for town residents out for their morning or evening stroll.
In 1906, after the San Francisco earthquake, things started to change. Visitors to this charming town started to build homes and become permanent residents. Businesses began to open and trees were planted. Ross Avenue was San Anselmo's "Little Italy," populated by quake refugees from North Beach who planted grapevines on the hills.
April 9, 1907, the Town of San Anselmo incorporated. The Town's name came from the Punta de Quintin land grant, which marked this valley as the Canada del Anselmo Valley of Anselm an Indian who was buried in the area. The Town government began with a board of trustees. W.E. Jones headed up this group as the Town's first mayor. The other members of the board were J. R. Raubinger, Douglas Lindsay, F.J. Crisp, and J.I. Taylor. Their first meetings were held in Pioneer Hall.
The first hired employees of the new Town were A. A. Moore, the first Town Clerk, who earned $300 a year; J.B. Queen, the first Town Treasurer, who earned $100 a year; George Martin, Town Marshall, who earned $300 a year. To complete the first town government a volunteer fire department was established. In November 1908, San Anselmo's first Chamber of Commerce formed. James Tunstead donated land for a town hall, which was completed in 1911. In 1915, Carnegie Library was built.
San Anselmo was a silent film capital in the early 1900s. Among the films made here: The Two Gun Man and Cowpuncher's Law. The old Tamalpais Theater near the hub on Sir Francis Drake opened in 1923 with Gloria Swanson's The Hummingbird.
The next influx of growth came in 1937, with the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Anselmo was now becoming a growing family oriented town. People had roots and families grew up here. Schools were established, churches were built and small town life evolved.
On March 12, 1974, boasting a population of approximately 12,500, San Anselmo officially became a Town.