National Register of Historic Places in Marin County

National Register #85002306: Charles Griswold House in Sausalito 8 September 2004
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National Register #85002306
Charles Griswold House
639 Main Street
Built 1893

This is one of a very few houses in Sausalito dating from the 19th century. It survived the disastrous Sausalito fire of 1919 as well as the impact of suburban development following the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Although its original residential lot has been reduced in size by half, it still has one of the largest parcels in the area preserving the important garden setting.

The house was constructed by a local millwright who had moved to Sausalito from New York, Charles Griswold, and he apparently used the opportunity to demonstrate his skills by incorporating the myriad of carpentry forms in the dwelling. It is not believed that any design or architectural drawing was prepared in advance of construction based on the eccentric manner of construction employed. There is no other house of this style with this detailing in all of Marin county.

While little is known of the builder, it is probable that this was his only house in the area. The combination of gothic form and decoration with strong oriental influences sets the house apart from other Victorians in Sausalito.

The house appears remarkably similar to some shown in 19th century chinoise wallpaper designs. Sausalito and the San Francisco area had a major trade connection with the Tall Ships travelling to the orient at the turn of the century and so became familiar as well as enamored with a broad range of goods and art forms from Japan and China.

At the time this house was constructed it looked out with an unobstructed view of San Francisco bay and what was the anchorage of many trading ships.

Excepted from the NRHP nomination dated 14 August 1985.

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