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Then and Now: Summer House

Current antique store was once home to the horse and buggy.

It’s somewhat appropriate that the location of an outdated service has become an upscale antique store. 

has two showrooms on Throckmorton Avenue. One is next to the on the upside of the hill, while the other is three doors down 57 Throckmorton.

This location has been home to a few iconic businesses over the years. Most recently, it was a branch of the company “Wilkes Sport, the Wilkes Bashford Company.” From 1933 to 1995, it was the home of Varney’s Hardware store, a family name that goes back two generations in Mill Valley history. Brothers Tony and John Varney returned from World War 1 in 1919 and opened Varney’s Plumbing at around the corner at 67 Throckmorton. They eventually expanded into the hardware business and also sold coal until the 1940s. 

Varney’s moved their growing hardware store in 1929 to a new building at 57 Throckmorton, where it remained for decades. 

In 1946, the brothers passed the business on to their sons, Jack and Dick, who held the business until it closed in 1995, the last downtown hardware store in Mill Valley. 

The original building at 57 Throckmorton (which was torn town in 1929 to make way for the upgrading Varney’s hardware store) was the historic Redwood Stables. This business began operating the mid-1890s, preceding the automobile as a storage shed for horses and carriages. It was referred to as a livery stable. 

In later years, a taxi service operated out of this location. For many years, the Redwood Stables were operated by the Deffebach family.  Thomas Deffebach II was the son of Thomas Boileau Deffebach. who arrived in California in 1850. He married Maria Inez Reed, the daughter of John Reed (first European Settler of what is now Mill Valley) in the early 1860s. 

The lot of 57 Throckmorton was originally purchased by Philip Jewell in the 1890 Mill Valley land auction. Jewell started the first livery stable here, and shortly after sold the property to his relative Michael O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy owned this building as well as the building next door, which today is the .  Descendents of the O’Shaughnessy family still own the properties of Tyler Florence and the Summer House.

You might not be able to store your carriage at 57 Throckmorton anymore or purchase a pound of nails there. But you will find some antiques that will take you back to the day of the horse and buggy AND the days when you could find a hardware store in downtown Mill Valley.

Dennis Fisco August 24, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Varney's was actually operated in its final years by Sam and Marie Schneider - a lovely couple who were always ready to help with any home project.

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