As much as the County of Marin government cherishes its National Historic Landmark headquarters building in San Rafael, it was not an easy task to obtain the go-ahead to build the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center more than 50 years ago. In fact, some officials, including influential politicians, were not on board with the idea at all.
An original radio-show drama, Vera, Mary & Mr. Wright, is to be offered in a special presentation Oct. 29 in the Board of Supervisors chambers. Written exclusively for the landmark’s 50th anniversary by Mill Valley author Richard Rapaport, the 30-minute play traces the political struggle to design and build a new Marin County Civic Center in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The setting is a live radio show circa 1957 with actors – who all have close ties to the Civic Center – reading from scripts. The tale focuses on Vera Schultz, the County’s first female Supervisor, and Mary Summers, the County’s (and the state’s) first female planning director, who put their political lives on the line to support Wright’s revolutionary design against the old ”Courthouse Gang.”
For a first-hand account of those tumultuous years, we recommend this event preview by the Marin Independent Journal columnist Beth Ashley.
The performance is part of the final event in a year-long celebration of the Civic Center’s 50th anniversary orchestrated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy. The event will be streaming live on the Internet and include live music plus the introduction of dignitaries who were tied to the Civic Center’s construction. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. in the Board chambers, Room 330, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. A reception follows the performances.
Visit www.marinciviccenter50th.org for an overview of the history of the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center, featuring before and after photos of the original Civic Center site.