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Marin History: Hotel Larkspur

Even though this landmark has had only a few owners in 127 years, it’s got a colorful history.


THE NAME OF the photographer of the above image is not known, but the location where he or she was standing is — it’s a short distance from the former North Coast Pacific Railroad station in Larkspur.

Hotel Larkspur opened on June 13, 1891. Also open around then were San Rafael High School (1888) and Dominican College, now Dominican University of California (1889), and, soon after, the San Francisco Theological Seminary in nearby San Anselmo (1892). In the 1920s and 1930s, the hotel had the largest public dining room in Marin County, with guest rooms on the upper floors.

During World War II the top floor served as an emergency hospital. Over the years, the hotel’s name was changed to Hotel Merwin’s (that’s Edwin L. Merwin’s General Merchandise on the right) and then, in the early 1900s, the Blue Rock Inn. In 1994 it became the Left Bank Brasserie, a popular French restaurant now with other locations in Menlo Park and San Jose.


Jim Wood, the co-founder of Marin Magazine, has written columns and articles for the magazine since its inception. His memoir, “What a Trip,” was published in 2015. He and his wife, Nikki, also founded Coast Magazine in Newport Beach, California, and sold it to the Orange Country Register before moving to Tiburon in 2002. He is active in the Tiburon community; a member of the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation Board, The Green Team and the Tiburon Open Space and Trails Commission.
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