Our community appreciation of the music and arts
Appreciation of live performing arts and music goes beyond listening to a song frozen in time or watching an interpretive play — music and art is in everything and everywhere we look and what we hear. Opening your eyes and ears to the world around you is essential in understanding the world, the people who have lived and do live, in and around us. The Hamilton Arts Foundation Inc plans to connect life expression and live performing arts and music to our community, where music and art can live, forever.
Last Updated October 1, 2022
History of art & music in our community
The Coast Miwok inhabited our area from as early as 6,000 BC, until the early 1850s.The Miwoks constructed their temporary villages scattered throughout the area consisted of populations in the range of 70 to 200 people in order to avoid irreversible damage to the land. Their art was embedded in their daily lives as they gathered as a community to create rare and great baskets. The Miwok styles varied in design and complexity—taking months, sometimes years, to finish. They lived through music for a good harvest, to celebrate marriages, honor their ancestors, enact creation stories, and cure the sick for over 7,850 years.
During the Mexican occupation of California, Sergeant Juan Ygnacio Antonio Pacheco was granted a 6,660 acre land grant of which eventually became Pacheco Valley, Ignacio, a district of the town of Novato, California. Admirers came from far and wide to join in Pacheco’s well-known community barbecues and celebrations, of which the family continues this celebratory tradition through the Pacheco Ranch Winery through the crush in late summer.
A portion of Pacheco’s ranch was eventually sold to the United States Department of Army in 1932, of which became Hamilton Field, named after Lieutenant Lloyd Hamilton, a heroic WW1 American aviator. Hamilton was the foundation of West Coast Air Defense from 1933-1994, designed by Captain Howard Nurse, an engineer for the quartermaster Generals Office as a "planned community”, unifying military and family life; of which is still intact today. The Department of Homeland Security’s Coast Guard inhabits two of the existing Hamilton Hangars.
The Hamilton Theater was built and opened on April 7, 1938, where top-flight talent and famous artists visiting the Base like Abbott and Costello (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello), entertained the troops and their families through a live performing arts show or film, offering a reprieve from the stresses of wartime life.
The Hamilton NCO Club and mess hall was also built and opened in 1938. It was a scene of much of the social activity on base for a great number of its residents. The dining hall facilities, card rooms, dance floor, and band stand were on the first floor, while the club operations, including offices, were housed upstairs. Located next to the Hamilton Theater, this facility was a place of community, joy and reprieve.
From 1980 to 1983, Hamilton AFB was used in a particularly special way as the home to the Refugee Transit Center, an operation where 180,000 refugees took safe haven away from the violence in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Afghanistan. Today, the Hamilton Air Force Base, also known as Hamilton Field (registered as an Historic District with National Registry of Historic Places), is considered a historic landmark to thousands of Southeast Asian refugees, including people from Laos, who came through Hamilton Field before being sent to their new homes throughout the United States. Over 35,000 of these refugees are living in the San Francisco Bay Area and observe the community’s largest annual celebration, the International Lao New Year Festival (ILNYF), to honor their safe refuge to the US. This festivity occurs annually in mid-April to coincide with the Water Festival, which is seen as a day of rebirth and purification.
Art and music has been thriving in our community for centuries. Today, expressing itself in our Hamilton Community is the Indian Valley Campus (IVC) owned by the College of Marin (COM) with thriving Art and Music programs for over 80 years; where artists like Robin Williams studied their craft. IVC is in association with the MarinMOCA located today in our Hamilton Town Center, over 40 artist studios, along with the Hamilton Community Center where arts and music are nurtured through the Novato Parks and Recreation.
Hamilton is also the home to the Novato Theater Company, more commonly known as the Novato Community Players, founded in 1919. Additionally, near our Hamilton Town Center is the ancient Grecian style Hamilton Amphitheater where Summer Music Series live performances are shared with our community monthly throughout the warm summer months.
Our town is full of music and art appreciation, combing our daily lives with the celebration of family and community through various festivities of music and the arts. The Miwoks, the Pacheco family, the United States Military, and the refugees all united in community here at Hamilton in Ignacio, Novato. We want to build on that legacy by renovating and rebuilding these facilities in our Hamilton Town Center to share our stories.
FACTS VERIFIED by Donn Davy, historian and volunteer of the Hamilton Arts Foundation, Inc.
Attn: Legal Department
PO Box 4368, San Rafael, CA 94949
Theater Physical Address:
555 S Palm Drive, Novato, CA 94949
Subject line: Attn: Legal Department
MUSIC & ART, FOREVER