If Mill Valley has a proverbial watercooler, it is . But unbeknownst to many local residents and visitors alike, Lytton Square is not the large gathering place outside the . That is, in fact, .
Lytton Square is the island along the stretch of Throckmorton Avenue between Corte Maderta and Miller avenues, home to three towering redwood trees, a flagpole and a number of places to sit, relax and find out the latest dish from its regulars.
In this week's Then photo, you'll see Lytton Square in the distance as you look westbound along Throckmorton from around the vantage point of the . The photo was taken in the spring of 1962, on the opening day of the little league parade. The three sequoia (redwood) trees, which now stand more than 60 feet tall, were no more than 5 years old at the time. So these are not old growth redwoods that survived the logging years of Mill Valley back in the 1830s. These were planted in the 1950s and have done quite well in the 60 years since then.
Near the trees and flagpole is a plaque that mentions the origins of the name Lytton Square. It was named in honor of Lytton Plummer Barber, who was the first soldier from Mill Valley to die in World War I. Lytton grew up in Mill Valley and was 17 years old in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. He volunteered and was sent for training at Fort Lewis.
Shortly after he arrived, he caught the fever of spinal meningitis. Tragically, it claimed his life within two weeks. He died stateside before he ever left the continental U.S., the first casualty from Mill Valley. The following spring, on Memorial Day of 1918, there was a dedication in his honor in Mill Valley, and thus Lytton Square was born.