The Marin City Historical and Preservation Society officially launched


By Catherine Stauffer


Marin City’s 80th anniversary was amplified by the announcement of The Marin City Historical and Preservation Society (MCHP) in September. Felecia Gaston, founder of MCHP, spoke at the Corinthian Yacht Club (CYC) on Nov. 3, sharing photos and stories depicting the effervescent history of Marin City, in an effort to raise funds for a permanent building for the society.

The talk was heralded by two major exhibits of historical objects at the Bartolini Gallery and the Civic Center, the majority of which were contributed by Gaston. 

The exhibits include relics largely from the 1940’s to the 1960’s as well as photos and documents that reveal parts of Marin City’s history. 

“I started collecting these items about 15 years ago … I would look at old photos and Google what people would wear during the ‘40s and ‘50s and then I would go to the thrift store and I would locate those items,” Gaston said. “The idea [for the society] was planted five years ago, but the exhibit came up, celebrating the 80-year anniversary. This was the year to really launch it.” 

Terry Tallen, a philanthropist and CYC member, met Gaston over 20 years ago while working on a project together, but it wasn’t until May of this year that Tallen brought Gaston’s mission to Shelly Willard, CYC’s head of the speaker series.

 “Her work ethic, her charisma, she’s highly intelligent and organized. The slideshow she put together was extraordinary, the presentation at the Bartolini Center and the civic center was spectacular … it’s part of Marin County’s history that no one thinks about,” Tallen said.

Gaston, though she’s always been a history buff, attributes her collection and curiosity to the senior citizens who shared their stories of migrating from the South with Gaston when she had first moved to Marin City in the ‘80s. “Growing up in the South, growing up in segregation, growing up living under Kennesaw Mountain, a mountain where the civil war was fought, I was always around lots of history.”

In her talk, Gaston spoke about her commitment to include younger generations in the society’s work.

“Kids in middle school and high school are learning how to archive the newspaper articles. They’re working with Dominican University. We do a lot of art projects, and the children have been involved with a play … the play is based on the oral history of the Black pioneers. It’s called The Lost Stories of Marinship: the Black experience.” 

Stephanie Young, a licensed social worker and active parent in the Tam community sat in the front row, commenting afterwards, “It was extremely informative to learn about the rich history of Marin City and the shipyard that provided opportunities for Black people to migrate from the deep South for a better life.” 

Having followed many of Gaston’s other community based projects, Young expressed her excitement at having attended the talk. 

“This community that seems really separate from us is really tied to Marin County’s whole history … it made me think about how we can bridge our communities,” Christine Irvine, an additional audience member said.