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Novato History Museum & Archives
815 de Long Ave, Novato, CA 94945

The Novato History Museum and Archives was founded in 1976 and is supported by the Novato Historical Guild and theMore city government. It's not a big museum -- basically one good-sized room and other artifacts around the premises -- but the displays are first-rate and capture life the way it was decades earlier. The curator is Samantha Kimpel, who is also in charge of the Hamilton Field History Museum, which opened in 2010.

The house where the museum is located is one of the original homes of Novato, built around 1850. It is at the corner of De Long and Sherman avenues, just across De Long from Novato City Hall. Admission is free and special school and group tours can be arranged outside of normal operating hours.

Presbyterian Church of Novato
710 Wilson Ave, Novato, CA 94947

The Presbyterian Church of Novato dates to 1896 and can take credit for Novato's most recognized building, the formerMore church at 901 Sherman Avenue that has been Novato City Hall since 1962. A year later, PCN held its first service at Trevitt Hall, the current home of the church on Wilson Avenue, about two miles west of the downtown area. The sanctuary where services are held today was constructed in 1977.

There are more than 400 members of PCN, where the Rev. Kent Webber has presided for 15 years. There are Sunday school programs for kids and teens as well as many outreach and study programs.

Novato City Hall
901 Sherman Ave, Novato, CA 94945

The renovated City Hall is an unparalleled architectural landmark in Novato. It is the most recognized building inMore town -- next to the truly strange rotating circular house next to Highway 101 and the Euro-odd former Birkenstock shoe factory north of town that reminds people of Lady Liberty's crown.

City pride swelled when the old red church at 901 Sherman was reopened in November 2009 to great fanfare. It began life as a Presbyterian church in 1896 and became City Hall in 1963, three years after the city's incorporation. But in 2004, the fire marshal red-tagged the cluster of city buildings in the Old Town area, labeling them unsafe and forcing city employees to find a new home. Since then, they have been housed at 75 Rowland Way, a privately owned commercial building between Vintage Oaks shopping center and Novato Community Hospital.

The City Council in 2007 approved plans that called for gutting the interior but preserving much of the historic look of the iconic structure. The idea was to rebuild it as a meeting place but find a permanent new home for city employees elsewhere. The building was moved temporarily about 75 feet north so a new foundation could be built, then placed on the new foundation about 12 feet north of its original location so De Long Avenue could be widened. With a high-tech makeover in and out, Novato City Hall was ready in time for the city's 50th anniversary in January 2010.

Novato City Hall is used for meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Review Commission and various other civic boards. The hall's foyer contains a display of newspaper clippings, church records and other remnants from a time capsule that was opened in 2009 (they were found waterlogged when the small box was pried open). There are two smaller rooms for storage and meetings plus a nerve center for the building's audio/video equipment. Outside, the hall is ringed by a brick patio, and many of the bricks have commemorative inscriptions sold as a fundraiser for the city. The City Green is an adjacent lawn area suited for sun-drenched lounging and open-air celebrations.

Novato City Hall is available for special event rentals. For more information, e-mail prcs@cityofnovato.org.

Margaret Todd Senior Center
1560 Hill Rd, Novato, CA 94947
Residents 50 and over will find a wealth of resources and fun at the city-run Margaret Todd Senior Center. The facilityMore is home to a popular banquet hall, countless events and classes for seniors, the Novato Independent Elders Program and the Novato Senior Citizens Club. Nearly every event there -- from dances to health fairs to computer classes to bingo -- is held to encourage seniors to connect with each other. The ballroom, with attached commercial kitchen, is available for rent and is used regularly by service groups such as the Rotary club. The city, which has experienced financial instability in recent years, is struggling to keep the senior center a funding priority. Organizers hope strong attendance at regular gatherings will convince the decision makers to keep the center open.
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