History of the Inverness Association
While the history of the Inverness Association didn’t begin until the 1930s, the town itself was beginning and growing from the 1890s. A few large and small houses served local residents and visitors. The 1910s was a decade of fitful growth, as various schemes for subdividing lots were promoted by local investors. New homes, lodges and hotels were built in First Valley and on Laurel Hill, and a small commercial center began, including a candy store and a Chinese laundry.
In the 1930s the town felt the need to organize an association to monitor development, stabilize water supply and develop local infrastructure. The Inverness Association began its life as the Inverness Improvement Association in 1930. Early directors included Brock Schreiber, owner of the boathouse (Launch for Hire) and a small store on Inverness Way, and Attilio Martinelli, owner of the original Inverness Store and County Supervisor from 1910 to 1940. Martinelli Park, south of the Inverness Store parking lot, commemorates his contributions to the small community.
The Association’s purpose was “the collection of funds and their expenditure on the construction and maintenance of roads, trails, bridges and culverts, and for the public welfare of the town.” These are some of the purposes of the Inverness Association today.
The purposes of the Inverness Association are to protect and advance the rights and interests of residents of the Inverness area. The Association monitors residential and commercial developments within the Inverness Ridge Area (Fox Drive to Sea Haven) and assists local property owners navigating zoning, Coastal Commission and county regulations. The monthly IA Board of Directors meetings provide a forum to discuss community issues that arise, large or small, and are open to the public.
The Inverness Association also produces the annual Inverness Fair in August. A raffle of locally donated items and services is a major fund-raising thrust of the Fair.
The preservation of the character of the village and its unique system of trails along with the natural beauty of the Tomales Bay watershed are historic concerns of the Inverness Association.
The Inverness Foundation, a separate 501(c)3 organization was created in 1966, to serve as a vehicle for tax deductible constributions. The directors of the IA and the IF are the same, and their business is conducted at the same monthly and annual meetings.
The Inverness Foundation owns and maintains three small local parks and The Gables, home of the Inverness Library and the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History which is a committee within the Inverness Foundation. It receives tax-deductible donations, and serves as a fiscal agent for several local organizations, including the Inverness Yacht Club youth sailing scholarships, and the Inverness Tennis Club’s tennis instruction scholarships. It maintains the parks it owns and funds the maintenance of local trails, foot bridges and the median island.
Historic activities of the Foundation and Association include the Waterdogs and the Gables, projects that reveal the diversity of needs intrinsic to Inverness. Since 1980, the Inverness Association has supported swimming classes for children (Waterdogs) at Shell Beach during the last week of July and the first week of August. This important program was initiated and managed for years by Maidee Moore, a longtime resident of Inverness.
The Gables is a project that exemplifies the role of the IA and IF in the life of the town. An iconic historic building, it houses the Inverness Library and the Jack Mason Museum and serves as a pivotal Inverness cultural center.
In 1985, when local historian Jack Mason died, his will provided that the Gables property should be sold to the Inverness Foundation for a percentage of the market value and that the proceeds should be paid to his daughter. The IF raised the money and bought the property. The community raised the additional financial and volunteer support to renovate the building to meet county public building requirements, suitable for a public library managed by the Marin County Library system.
In 2012, the IF began a yearlong project to bring the Gables into compliance with current ADA requirements and to address its considerable deferred maintenance. That project is now complete and the building stands renewed and beloved—a testimony to the dedicated efforts of board members of the Inverness Association and Foundation.
The cost of maintaining the structure of the Gables, the oldest building in Inverness at one hundred years old, requires the ongoing input of funds and supervision of its condition. To address these ongoing maintenance needs, a new committee of the Foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Gables is being formed. This committee, which is to be named the Friends of the Gables, is the joint effort of the Inverness Association, the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History and the Inverness Library. As we in the community know, the Gables serves a vital role in the community as it is our branch of the Inverness Library, houses the archives of the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History and is an important community meeting place.