MarinReal Estate April 24, 2017

The History of Winship Park in Ross

Thanks to the Marin History Museum I was able to examine a copy of one of the original sales brochures for the Winship Park tract in Ross.  The sales literature touts the great weather (no fog and no wind), schools, churches, availability of food and produce, and the 55 minute combined train and ferry ride to and from San Francisco.  The fact that the train stop for Winship Park was Bolinas Avenue tells me that the brochure was likely written in 1912 -1913 since the Bolinas Avenue stop was not completed until 1912.  The brochure proudly goes on to describe the high class of improvements in the development such as Macadam streets (a type of road construction in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly), concrete sidewalks, gutters, sewers, water, gas, electricity, and telephones.

Winship Park, long considered one of the most desirable and prestigious places to live in Marin County, was the original home of a number of prominent and wealthy individuals that grace Marin’s history books. Among those was William  Barber who owned 71 acres in Ross Valley and built the first home in this subdivision at 1 Garden Road in 1866 . William Barber was born in London, England in 1819 and came to the US when he was 18.  He studied law in New York then moved west to California in 1851 where he established one of the first law practices in San Francisco. He married Elizabeth Bartlett Jackson from Massachusetts.  Elizabeth was a descendant of Abraham Jackson one of the early Plymouth colonists. In 1892, the Barber’s built a second home in Winship Park at 73 Winship Avenue (still there and currently being renovated) in response to great demand by wealthy San Franciscans for summer rentals.  The adjacent Barber tract in San Anselmo is named after him.

Unfortunately, the Barber’s original home was destroyed by a fire in July 1896 and a new home designed by architect Maxwell Bugbee was completed while the Barber’s camped in their backyard.  The 1896 Victorian “Stick-style” home has undergone many changes over the years but the house’s exterior appears much as it did when the Barber’s lived there.

(Pictured above is Barber’s second home at 1 Garden Road, Ross)


In 1905, the second owner Kate Winship, a wealthy San Franciscan (who the tract is named after), bought the then 9 year old home and surrounding 61.5 acres from William Barber’s widow (William Barber died in 1901) and lived in the home for 6 years. In 1911, Winship sold 61.5 acres to the Century Investment Company which ultimately developed the Winship Park tract and sold off the home sites. G. H. Umbsen & Co. of San Francisco were the selling agents.

And the rest as they say in show business is history!