In the late 1880s until the 1930s, Tiburon was a bustling, rowdy railroad town. Explore the rich history of our town by visiting some of these notable buildings and points of interest.
Lyford Tower • 1889
This round sandstone edifice erected by Dr. Benjamin Lyford as the gateway to “Lyford’s Hygeia,” a planned community. From here is a view of Raccoon Strait across to Angel Island, northeast to Berkeley and southwest to the Golden Gate.
Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum • 1885
Passenger and freight depot of the San Francisco & North Pacific Railroad, later the Northwestern Pacific. It was later named “The Donahue Depot” for the railroad’s founder. Built of redwood and Douglas fir with board and batten, tongue-and- groove siding and Victorian style window trim. The Museum is operated by the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society; open 1-4 p.m., Wednesdays and weekends, April through October.
15 Main Street • McDonogh/McNeil Building • 1886
First structure on waterside of the street built by Sam McDonogh (rebuilt after the 1906 fire). Saloon-pool hall, boat leasing and apartments. Renamed when James McNeil married Sam’s widow. Compass rose decoration added to upper facade during town’s weekend “paint-up” of Main St. in September 1955.
27 Main Street • Sam’s Anchor Cafe • 1920s
Oldest continuous use restaurant in Tiburon. Original owner was Sam Vella, an immigrant from Malta. The saloon was fully operational during Prohibition. Trap door in floor was built for access to boats bringing in whisky. Remodeled in 1930s.
32 Main Street • Anderson Meat Market • 1921
First butcher shop erected 1891 by Victor Beyries. Purchased by H.D. Anderson, a New Yorker, in 1898. Store survived until it burned to the ground in the 1921 fire. It was re-erected and then renovated in the 1960s with ornate false front, an example of Victorian embellishment.
34 Main Street • Beyries General Store/Hotel • 1921
Original 1900s two-story structure with grocery on first floor and Tiburon Hotel above, destroyed in 1921 fire. Rebuilt from whole sections saved from the fire. Food market operated until 1955. Upstairs lodging with separate stairs, reportedly once a bordello.
35 Main Street • Saloon • 1925
Another Main Street saloon with basement access to the bay for bringing in illegal spirits, safeguarded by concrete sidewalls. Upper story railings were salvaged from author Jack London’s Wolf House in Sonoma..
55 Main Street • Bank Building • 1925
Brick structure was originally a branch of Bank of Sausalito, closed in 1935. Bought by Sam Vella of Sam’s Cafe who made daily deposits of liquor to bank vault, a convenient locker for his nearby bar.
POINTS OF INTEREST
State park with spectacular vistas, hiking and biking trails and historic sites. Can be reached by the Angel Island Ferry, now operated by the third generation of the McDonogh Family (see 15 Main Street).
Elephant Rock Children’s Fishing Pier
Natural landmark just offshore in downtown Tiburon. When viewed from water at low tide, it looks like an elephant. A favorite fishing spot, officially designated for youngsters.
Railroad Depot Palm • 1923
The NWPRR was noted for gardens and palm trees around its main buildings and passenger depots. Marker placed by Heritage & Arts Commission in 1988 to show location of railroad yard.
“Coming About” Fountain Plaza • 2006
Commissioned by the Town of Tiburon, designed and constructed by Reed Madden Designs. The fountain is dedicated to Edward Zelinsky.
Corinthian Yacht Club • 1912
The white frame building is the second clubhouse. A wall remains from the original 1887 structure, which was damaged by fire circa 1910. One of three private yacht clubs on the peninsula.
Old St. Hilary’s Landmark • 1888
One of the few Carpenter Gothic churches to survive in it’s original setting. The area around it is home to many rare wildflowers. Owned by the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society. Open Sundays, 1-4 p.m., April through October.
Tiburon Town Hall • 1997
Belvedere-Tiburon Library • 1997
Gallows Wheels Monument • 2015
The wheels next to the Depot Museum are from a gallows frame, a mechanical device that adjusts wharf tracks to the same level as the tracks on a barge, allowing transfer of railroad cars despite changes in level due to the tides. The device operated at the center of the Tiburon waterfront and was dismantled in 1974.
Lyford House • 376 Greenwood Beach Road • 1876