Northbridge History

All of Santa Venetia was once part of a 22,000-acre land grant to Timothy Murphy in 1844, by the Mexican government. Edward Stetson bought 360 acres from the Murphy's in 1889. Later, the Stetsons rented the land to Robert's Dairy Ranch until 1955, when they sold part of the ranch to the developers of Northbridge. The main street into the Northbridge tract, Meriam, was named after the Stetsons' son. The Stetson family home stood on the knoll where the current Northview subdivision is located, until 1986, when it burned down under mysterious circumstances.

To our east, around Santa Margarita Island, a local real estate developer, Mabry McMahon, planned a 193-acre luxury resort, including canals like those in Venice (the development plan submitted to the county in 1914 was named Santa Venetia). However, the outbreak of World War I, and later the stock market crash of 1929, ended this ambitious plan. The area of the present Chalet Basque restaurant was a small private airport from 1920 until after World War II.

In the hillside behind the 7-11 store on North San Pedro Road are the remains of two gold mines, operated between 1884 and 1889. Above, on San Pedro Ridge, is a small grove of redwoods, which were logged off in the late 1800’s. To our west, the area around the Civic Center was another dairy ranch. The Marin Civic Center itself is a world-renowned masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright – completed in 1962. The site of Santa Venetia Market and Civic Center Service and Repair was formerly a turkey and chicken ranch.

The Northbridge Marinites Homeowners Association was founded not long after the first residents bought their homes here. A large number of the original owners still reside in this pleasant and peaceful neighborhood. Aside from the social activities, the early Association maintained the Meriam center strip, played a role in the installation of streetlights, and helped in the public purchase of the open space area on San Pedro Ridge.