Belvedere Beginnings

On December 21, 1896, 57 people voted to incorporate Belvedere as a city - 33 people voted for it, 27 voted against it, and three votes were invalidated. Before that there was the Belvedere Land Company, so by the incorporation there were homes and building sites, a water system, roads, and other amenities already in place thanks to the developers.

In the early days when Belvedere matrons living or summering on Belvedere Island eschewed the rough and tumble of their neighboring railroad community's Main Street in Tiburon, there was no need to trade there. Belvedere had Beach Road, which included the post office, grocery store, telephone exchange, beauty shop, laundry, boatyard, plumber's shop, coal, wood and ice yard, the blacksmith's shop, and later a gas station and even a jail. The main commercial building, which also had living units, was the Belvedere Land Company. They were designed by architect Albert Farr. He also designed the Farr Cottages across on Beach Road. All these buildings exist today almost as they were then.

In the early years following World War II Harry B. Allen of the Belvedere Land Company began the construction of the lagoon living area. The dredging of the lagoon opened up new opportunities for Belvedere including housing directly on the lagoon! Providing residents with easy access to the water and a safe place to participate in water sports and activities.

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Form of Government

Until the city manager form of government was adopted in 1954, the style of governing was by commission, each of the five council members taking a specific responsibility. There were commissions of the basic public services: sewers, road, fire protection, and police. Residents called the particular commissioners at their house if there was a problem or complaint.

City Hall

Belvedere City Hall, twice enlarged, was once the local Presbyterian Church. The building was rolled down the hill from its original site at Bayview Avenue and Laurel Avenue in 1949. Many of its beautiful features have been preserved at its present site on San Rafael Avenue.

To learn more about the historic preservation sites in Belvedere, please visit the city Historic Preservation page.

                                Council Chambers as Church City hall (2)