Marin County Civic Center

“And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”

Sigh.  Remember when we had some brotherhood?


I had an adventure the other day by taking advantage of one of the free preview rides on our splendid new SMART train.  I brought all my handicap documentation to the Petaluma Downtown station so i could use the Segway, and the station attendants were very helpful in clearing use of it with the main office, this being their first experience with one.  The train pulled out of the station on time at 8:40 AM, and it was a very pleasant thirty-minute ride to the Marin Civic Center station, easier than driving and just as fast.  The only downside was that the handicap area for wheelchairs and Segways is configured without windows, so to see the countryside you have to get diagonal glimpses through windows in adjacent areas.

I rode the Segway the quarter mile from the station to the Marin County Civic Center.  Here’s another link more focused on the architecture, perhaps second only to the Guggenheim as Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece.  I spent a couple of hours taking photos inside it, had a tasty lunch at the nearby Chalet Basque restaurant and returned to the center for more photos until i tired of it and rode back to the SMART train station for my return to Petaluma.

The helpful station agent recommended that i take the approaching southbound train to the Downtown San Rafael station (the next station and the end of the line) and remain on it so i’d be guaranteed a seat for the return to Petaluma, and i took his advice.  Thank goodness i did because when i tried to board, the cop at the door wouldn’t let me on.  I explained that i was a disabled veteran who’d taken the train here this morning from Petaluma, but he was adamant – No entry with the Segway.  And then the doors slammed shut.

I was stunned. How in the world am i going to get home? I returned to the station agent with my tale of woe, and he commiserated.  He pointed out that there were two doors at the center of the train for the handicapped, and the cop couldn’t be at both doors at the same time, so all i had to do was pick the other door to get home.

And that’s what i did.  Had to stand, but i was so grateful for being on the train that standing wasn’t a bother.

But what about the photos? Well, here’s a bunch:

The SMART train pulling into the Petaluma station.

SMART train at Petaluma station


South entry to the Civic Center.


There are long skylights in the center of the building and cutouts in the center of the floors so that some natural light penetrates all the way to the ground floor.  Here’s a shot on the second floor.

Marin Civic Center - second floor


Do i love the skylights and landscaping or what?

Marin County Civic Center - landscaping



Marin County Civic Center - detail


Terrace outside the cafeteria.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


From the terrace.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


Outside the restaurant.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


The north wing, from the terrace.

Marin County Civic Center - north wing


Roof detail.

Marin County Civic Center - roof detail


More interior landscaping.

Marin County Civic Center - interior landscaping


Pleasant terrace at the south end.

Marin County Civic Center - south terrace


North entrance.

Marin County Civic Center - north entrance


Roof detail.

Marin County Civic Center - roof detail


And now, a structure across the street, the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, built in 1971 to harmonize with Wright’s civic center.

Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium


And finally, the north wing of the civic center is the Hall of Justice, and it originally included a jail.  However, as time went on and Marin residents grew naughtier and naughtier, a larger jail was needed.  So the exiting jail was renovated into offices for people more deserving of the views, and a new jail was dug into an adjacent hillside.  There’s a tunnel from the Hall of Justice through which the freshly convicted can be frog marched to their new home.  Those windows are for the warden’s office only.  To date, nobody has succeeded in digging his way out of one of the subterranean cells.


Marin County Jail


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