City of Novato
    City of Novato
Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services

Novato History Museum
815 DeLong Avenue · Novato, CA 94945
(415) 897-4320

Novato  History MuseumThe Novato History Museum, founded by Mrs. Margaret "Peg" Coady in 1976, is located in the home of Novato's first Postmaster, Henry F. Jones. The building, possibly the oldest dwelling in Novato, may have been one of several houses constructed by Ramon Pacheco circa 1850. It stood in the original "Old Town" on South Novato Blvd. near Yukon Way. Donated to the City of Novato in 1972, the building was moved to its present location and restored by volunteer members of the Novato Civic Foundation.

Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday
Noon-4pm (also by appointment)
Closed on Holidays

Admission is Free

Tours are also available by appointment. 
Please call (415) 897-4320


Directions to Museum

Novato History Museum LocationNorth 101: Take the DeLong Avenue exit. Turn left at the top of the exit. 
Turn left at the second stoplight, onto Reichert. 

Turn right immediately into the driveway. 

South 101: Take the DeLong Avenue exit. Turn right at the top of the exit ramp.
Turn left at the Reichert stoplight. 

Turn right immediately into the driveway.

There are several parking spots adjacent to the Museum.



School Tours: Every spring the Novato Historical Guild leads Novato's 3rd graders through a historic tour of Novato. The cost is free to schools. For more information, call Susan Trumbull, 897-1617. Tours begin in March and end in early June.

General Tours: If you'd like to schedule a group tour of the museum and downtown area give we can arrange it. Tours to Girls Scouts, Brownies or Boy Scouts are free. For large groups we suggest a donation of $100.

Novato Historical Guild

The Novato Historical Guild is a volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to staff and support the Novato History Museum.

Guided tours of the Museum, Historic Old Town, Pioneer Cemetery and Hamilton Field are available to groups by appointment. Call (415) 897- 4320

The Guild hosts quarterly membership meetings and publishes The Novato Historian, a quarterly newsletter.

Membership in the Novato Historical Guild supports the preservation and interpretation of the history of Novato. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, The Novato Historian, gift shop discount and invitations to exclusive events.


$15 yr
$100 yr
$25 yr
$200 yr
$5 yr
Life, Individual
$50 yr
Life, Joint
Corporate Membership
$1,000 yr
$1,000 yr

Novato Historical Guild Membership Application and/or Membership Renewal Form

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The Novato Historian
The quarterly publication of the Novato Historical Guild and the Novato History Museum

Click here to read the current issue of The Novato Historian

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Call for Volunteers

Come join our team! The museum is always looking for new volunteers. We are eager to pair you with a project that meets your skills and interests. Here are some existing volunteer opportunities. If you have something else in mind, please let us know.

MUSEUM DOCENT: We are looking for docents to volunteer once a month for four hours on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday afternoon. We will provide training.

SCHOOL TOUR DOCENT: Third Grade tours begin in March and run through early June. If you are interested in becoming a school tour docent, you may attend our docent training on Thursday, February 27th from 9:30-11:30 a.m.. You do not need to commit to becoming a docent to attend the training. Come and see if this is something you might like to do. For more information, call Susan Trumbull, 897-1617.

ORAL HISTORY PROJECT: The museum has an on-going community oral history project. We will provide training for anyone interested in volunteering for this project.

ARCHIVES: If you have library experience, or like to organize books, documents, maps, and photos, let us know.

COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT: We are cataloging and re-packing all of our artifacts in the museum's collection; this is a good opportunity for anyone seeking museum experience or wishing to learn about artifact handling and record keeping.

CLERICAL WORK: Filing and word-processing.

FUNDRAISING AND EVENTS: We are looking for people who have fundraising experience or enjoy helping with events.

Related Links

American Association of Museums
American Association for State and Local History
Fraternal Society History
Western Museums Association
Regional Oral History office, University of California Berkeley, Bancroft Library

One Minute Guide to Oral Histories

Tips for Interviewers


Early Novato Area History

Camilo's daughters, (left) Maria Maxima and Maria AntoniaOnce the hills and valleys of Novato were the hunting grounds of Miwok Indians who had a village north of Novato at Olompali which is now a State Historic Park. In 1843, Olompali was granted to a Native American, Camilo Ynitia, who raised wheat and became a successful cattle breeder.



Camilo's daughters, (left) Maria Maxima and Maria Antonia 

The area that now includes Ignacio, Hamilton Field, and Bel Marin Keys was once part of land granted to Ignacio Pacheco. His descendants still reside in the old Pacheco home (shown here) on a portion of the original land grant.

Old Pacheco Home

Novato Rancho
Most of the present City of Novato was known as Rancho de Novato in 1839 when it was granted to Fernando Feliz who served in the Mexican Army. The Rancho had a number of owners before Francis DeLong and Joseph Sweetser formed a partnership and bought the property about 1856

Francis DeLong (left) and Joseph Sweetser (right)
Francis DeLong (left) and Joseph Sweetser (right) planted one of the largest orchards in the world. Their fruit was shipped throughout the United States and to several other countries. The home they built ca. 1865 still serves as a dwelling today.

In 1879, Sweetser sold most of his share of the Novato Rancho to his partner, DeLong. When Francis DeLong died in 1885, he left his estate to his son, Frank Coye DeLong.

The Home and Farm Company purchased the Black Point Ranch from DeLong in 1888 and divided the 6,000 acres into lots and sold them as business and residential sites. That was the "new town of Novato".

Hamilton Army Field
Businessmen and residents worked together to locate Hamilton Air Field in Marin County in order to provide jobs during the Depression.

Lt. Lloyd Hamilton
Dedicated in 1935, Hamilton Air Field was named in honor of Lt. Lloyd Hamilton (right), the first American pilot to fly with the Royal Flying Corps during W.W.I.

This airfield was a prime World War II bomber, pursuit and transport aircraft facility. Below is a Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" at Hamilton Field in June 1938. Military memorabilia is on display on our museum.

Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" at Hamilton Field 

Lt. Lloyd Hamilton             


Township to City

1850 California admitted to the Union
1850 First large home built in Novato by Bezar Simmons
1856 Post office established-operated out of the building that is now the History Museum
1858 School built on property owned by Sweetser and DeLong
1861 Charlotte Haven, first person buried in Novato Cemetery
1870 County builds road across Sweetser and DeLong property
1875 Novato Grammar school established on land deeded by Sweetser & DeLong (near today's Police Station)
1879 Opening of first train depot for Northwestern Pacific railroad line
1889 Loustaunau Hall built (now Druid Hall)
1890 Our Lady of Loretto, first church built (there have been two incarnations since)
1903 Second train depot built, first depot moved
1907 Novato Sanatorium, the first hospital, was established in the Oliver House on Railroad Ave. (a former residence)
1908 Telephone service provided by Will Cain who took over the Sunset Telephone Company
1911 Electricity provided to some as W. Cain built a substation at Black Point
1912 Running water provided to some by Will Cain and Al, his brother
1913 Novato Bank established, the first in Novato
1915 Chamber of Commerce founded
1916 Novato Utilities incorporated to include electricity, water and phone
1917 Third depot built after the second burned
1922 Concrete sidewalks begin to appear in downtown
Black Point Cutoff (Highway 37) constructed

Novato Advance begins publication (the first paper, The Banner, had ceased publication)

Canal dredged two mile cutoff to railroad
1923 Community House dedicated
1924 Grant Avenue paved
1925 Sanitary District established
Will Cain commissioner for first Novato Fair
1927 Library established on second floor of Community House
1929 Great Depression hits the nation
1932 Hamilton Field construction begins
1945 End of WWII
Novato Theater built
1948 Formation of North Marin County Water District
1952 Work on Stafford Dam begins
1956 Novato High School opens, students no longer need to go to San Rafael
1958 Northwestern Pacific ends passenger service
1960 Novato incorporated (826 Grant Ave. was the headquarters for the city)
1961 Police Department becomes a City agency, first housed in the railroad depot
1963 City Hall is created in what was the Presbyterian Church
1974 October, Highway 101 North freeway (three lanes) complete
December, Highway 101 South, "one hour there was traffic in downtown Novato, the next hour there was just a trickle."
1975 Deactivation of Hamilton Field
1976 Novato History Museum established

Gift Shop

The Museum Gift Shop has the perfect unique gift!

Besides the items shown below, there are gifts such as books, notecards,
T-shirts, and sweatshirts available.
The Gift Shop is open during our regular public hours.

For more information, please call the museum at 897-4320.

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Novato Township - Land Grant to World War II
by May Ungemach

The definitive history of the Novato and north Marin area with over 300 historic photos and maps. (496 pages) $30.50

A Brief History of Hamilton Army Airfield

Describes the early conception of coastal airfields in the 1920's, the efforts of local citizens to acquire land for an airfield during the Depression, a day in the life at Hamilton, and women service units before and during WWII. (12 pages) $2.00

"Mission Accomplished" video

Shows historical film footage of designing and building Hamilton AFB, military units that served before and after WWII, and housing Southeast Asian refugees following the Vietnam War. (28 min.) $25.00

"City of Novato Early Years" video

A narrative and pictorial description of the historical development of downtown Novato. (15 min.) $15.00
Coffee Mug

Off-white ceramic with dark brown Novato History Museum logo. $5.00

Tote Bag

Rugged cotton bag with double straps. Comes in red, beige, royal blue, navy blue, and black. $5.00


Ceramic thimble 1" high x ¾" diameter with Novato History Museum logo. $1.00

Leather Goods

Unique quality leather goods with the picture of the Novato City Hall on the front. These leather items are manufactured by a local Novato company.
Coin Purse $15.00
Card Holder $15.00
Purse w/strap $28.00
Handcrafted Ornaments

Wonderfully detailed dough ornaments made by a Bay Area artist.
Novato City Hall $10.00
Novato History Museum $7.00
Hamilton History Museum $12.50
Novato History Collector Cards

Our famous Collector Cards - 42 cards depicting historical buildings and people from Novato.
Entire set $12.00
Pack of 10 cards $3.00
Individual cards $.30

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