The land on which the Marin Art and Garden Center stands was part of a Mexican land grant called "Rancho Punta de Quentin." James Ross, for whom the town of Ross was named, owned it. He settled here in 1857 on the west side of Corte Madera Creek, which was known as Ross Landing. In 1863 James Ross' daughter married George Worn. They built their home on a portion of the property which is now the Marin Art and Garden Center. George Worn planted a small magnolia tree in the center of the property. The imposing grandeur of this tree had attracted the attention of professional and amateur photographers for nearly a century until sadly, in 2006; it collapsed due to declining health.
The house, which was known as Sunnyside, was sold to Jonathan Kittle in 1882 who remodeled it. In 1931, the roof was completely destroyed by fire. Shortly thereafter, the house was torn down, leaving only the barn, now home of the Ross Valley Players, and the Octagon House, now home of Moya Library/Ross Historical Society as the only remaining structures of the early days. The area had only occasional use after that in 1943 and the Kittle family decided to sell the property.
At this point the history of the Marin Art and Garden Center really begins. Mrs. Norman B. "Caroline" Livermore was then President of the Conservation League. She had a deep feeling of community responsibility and a clear vision of the future. She pursued the ways and means to acquire and preserve the property.
Today, the Marin Art and Garden Center's volunteers who lend their efforts to this growing community project are keeping alive the spark set off by Mrs. Livermore in 1943. In its founding charter, the Center, which is now dedicated to the development of the cultural and natural assets of Marin County, was established as "A Living Memorial" which would perpetuate, through its membership, the memory of the dead, their lives and deeds.