I spent an enjoyable hour with a couple of docents at the Novato History Museum today. I was hoping to get to the bottom of my confusion surrounding the original name of The Square. In my mind, it was always "Novak Square," though others have asserted that it was "Novato Square." Although neither of the women could recall its name, they did confirm that the center would've been built by Novak. I haven't had any luck online, but I'm hoping to find old photos or newspaper clippings to help set the record straight.
In the meantime, I did come across this great aerial photograph showing the area in 1957. The triangular plot of land in the upper left is where Roger Wilco was built in about 1960, and would become The Square. At the center right, you can also see the long-gone West Novato Elementary School.
Also shown in the detail below is Gustafson Court, the street I grew up on. My parents moved into the house around 1963-64, and I remember construction just beginning then on "Pleasant Valley 44," the development on Center Road, west of Sutro. San Marin High School was just being built at the time. This picture shows the area 6-7 years before that.
David Milano
3/6/2013 10:02:15 am

Great photos ! I remember the big ( giant ) Eucalyptus trees that were on Novato Blvd.

Mike Webb
6/8/2013 01:48:33 pm

Hi Louis I also lived on Gustafson ct and remember your family well. hoping all is well with Dave and Gay. Having started working at Roger Wilco in 1968-1992 I can verify the Square started out as Novak Square . John Novak developed the center Bill Jonas a good friend of Johns and owner of Roger Wilco took a leap of faith and signed a lease, it took several years of hard work before the store took off and soon was the largest volume market in town, thanks to San Marin and several other housing developments. We fought hard to keep the Novak name when the rest of the center was built in a effort to honor the man to had the vision to develop it. It was an honor to have worked for Bill Jonas and be a part of the West Novato Community .

Louis Block
6/8/2013 02:31:35 pm

Great to hear from you, Mike! Dad lives in Sonoma now, and Mom splits her time between Sonoma and Hawaii. We bought a house here almost 15 years ago now, only 2 blocks away from Gustafson, up Center. Who knew?
Thanks for the clarification on the Novak name, and its history. Sometimes my memory plays tricks on me. I hope to spend some more time at the museum at some point, and try to find some more photos.

Mike Faires
6/9/2013 12:35:19 am

Great little history blog Louis! Thanks for posting on "I grew Up In Novato...." Too.

Randy Rettig
10/5/2014 11:09:18 am

Thanks for the great old picture of West Novato Elementary -- I went to school there in the 70's, and when I went back there to visit, it had been replaced with houses, so I enjoyed seeing what it used to look like!

Randy Rettig
10/5/2014 11:21:23 am

There was also a Pay 'N Save (I think it was called) next to Roger Wilco, and Arthur's Toy Town which was built later in that same Novak Square -- I used to ride my bike there to buy baseball cards, which later led to my opening a baseball card store in Mill Valley in the 80's (went out of business in 1990). I lived on Hickox Rd., not far from Gustafson Ct.

Bob Osborn
11/21/2017 11:13:38 pm

Hi Randy-

I live on Paladini now - 65 - right across from Hickox - do you have any old pics of the neighborhood?

Thanks either way. Bob - boboso2429@gmail.com

9/28/2017 07:51:16 am

Great bit of history! I found this while searching for W. Novato Elem. School. I lived on Sierra Vista from 1964, clearly shown in the top photo. I could jump my back fence to the alleyway behind Roger Wilco. I remember Old-Fashioned Days at the market ("A nickel for a pickle!"). The photo also shows the Novak Mansion surrounded by Buena Vista...

Howard Yoast
11/28/2017 04:34:29 pm

I lived at 10 Gustafson Ct. 1956- 1962. The area was known as Walnut Park and the homes were built by John Novak Cont. I went to West Novato Elm.--Mr. Wineland-- Mrs DeLa Fontain-- Mrs .Mc Danials -- Mrs. Ross.-- Mrs. Earath . Mr. Roley. Some of the teachers I remember--also the janitor Charley.

Louis Block
11/28/2017 04:57:02 pm

Thanks for contacting me, Howard! We moved into 55 Gustafson in 1965. My mom sold the house in 2002. We bought our home up the street on Center in 1999.
I attended West Novato for 1 year only, for kindergarten. After that, I was at Pleasant Valley. Ms. Ehreth was my 6th grade teacher there, and I remember her fondly.
Where are you now?

Howard Yoast
11/28/2017 05:27:54 pm

Santa Rosa--- I grew up in the west Novato area when it was first being built. The only neighbor hood out west was Walnut Park /Center Rd and Sutro--- The Mederios Dairy was the area at the end of Center and Sutro. It was really a great place to grow up and I remember it just like yesterday.

Howard Yoast
11/28/2017 05:31:22 pm

Louis-- Mrs. Eherth and her two boy's Ben and Dave were our neighbors--two houses up 15 Gustafson.

Louis Block
11/28/2017 07:04:42 pm

When I knew Ms. Ehreth, she lived at the corner of St. Francis and Center Road. I remember bringing an injured bird to her house when I was in Junior High. I often wonder about the history of the house I own now. I'm sure I walked past it plenty of times when I was a kid. It was built in '64.


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    August 2013
    March 2013



    Louis Block

    I'm a freelance video/audio engineer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I see myself as a left-brainer helping right-brainers to achieve their visions.
    Occasionally I want to go on a lengthy diatribe, and this seems to be the place to do it.
    Be warned - this will probably amount to being the safest, most unhip, least edgy blog you've ever read.