63 Years of Caring for Sausalito

Sea lion statue being sandblasted to search for cracks  |  photo from Sausalito Foundation  |  post by Larry Clinton

In 1960, the Sausalito Foundation was formed by residents for the purposes of purchasing two city blocks of underwater property at Shelter Cove and deeding them to the city. The purchased lots have preserved the view of San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay forever. These lots are located on Bridgeway, stretching from The Trident past Eden Roc.

Eight years later the Foundation began an ongoing acquisition and archival presentation of works by Sausalito artists and of Sausalito subjects, supported by the sale of sea lion replicas cast by Heath Ceramics. Many of the historic works are on display in City Hall.

In 1976 the Foundation undertook restoration of the Vina del Mar fountain, which was originally created for the San Francisco Pan Pacific Exposition, in honor of the nation’s bicentennial. Since then, the elephant sculptures and fountain in Vina del Mar Park have been for restored three times.

The Foundation has also refurbished and restored local parks and playgrounds, and in 1985, the Foundation installed the Sally Stanford Drinking Fountain and Leland Fountain for dogs at the downtown ferry landing. They are, of course, named for the infamous Madame Mayor of Sausalito and her dog, Leland.

For the city’s Centennial in 1994, the Foundation, along with the Friends of the Art Festival, commissioned the installation of the Bolinar sculpture by local artist John Libberton, with landscaping by David Schwartz, at the intersection of Napa Street and Bridgeway near Dunphy Park. Donors were honored with their names on Heath Ceramic bricks.

More recently the Foundation has made annual contributions to the Sausalito 4th of July fireworks and the Sausalito Library Children’s Holiday Tree and has served as the non-profit fiscal agent for neighborhood improvement projects.

In 2012, the Foundation began the project of upgrading the Ice House Plaza project at Bridgeway and Bay Street, which was completed by the Sausalito Historical Society in 2019. The plaza includes benches and items of historic interest in a landscaped setting, including a life size statue of Historical Society co-founder Phil Frank, who was instrumental in moving the Ice House from Caledonia Street to its central downtown location.

In 2016 the Foundation began the repair and restoration of the Jean Varda mosaic in Marinship Park, next to the Bay Model. The mosaic was originally part of Villa Roma Hotel in San Francisco. A costume and musical celebration of Varda was held in the park, saluting the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Last year the Foundation served as fiscal sponsor for the All Our Children United project to clean, beautify, and enhance the experience of moving through the tunnel that connects Marin City and Sausalito.

This year, the Foundation is working to restore and replace the sea lion statue by Al Sybrian which fell into the Bay in the January storms. As a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, it has been soliciting tax deductible donations to fund the restoration and future maintenance. According to Foundation co-treasurer Felicity Kirsch, some 140 donors of $250 or more have received commemorative miniature sea lion statue replicas. Felicity, of Commodore Marina, and Donna Bragg, of the ark Becky Thatcher, share the treasurer responsibilities for the Foundation.

The refurbishment plan will include patching cracks and affixing a new bronze base to secure the piece to its concrete pad. Reason Bradley of Universal Sonar Mount, an engineering and underwater sonar group, is coordinating the effort to fix the sea lion along with other Marinship artisans.

Donors can contribute online at  or mail checks to the Sausalito Foundation, P.O. Box 567, Sausalito, CA 94966. According to Felicity, the Foundation hopes to complete the project by late spring.