Home history


In the year of 1909, San Franciscan Dietrich G. Kohn set out to build a summer cottage in the quiet area of Mill Valley. He had the pick of sites, and came across a prime piece of land with a remarkably warm microclimate, lots of sun, and 360 degree views - from the front, the San Francisco skyline, from the back, wide open views of Mt. Tamalpais. This was to become 285 Hillside.

Dietrich chose well - this lot was located on what is now one of the most prestigious streets in the county. At the time, however, Hillside was simply a dirt road, with a few modest summer cottages and horses grazing in the pasture next door to Kohn’s lot.

Born in 1905, Marguerite Gertrude Hickey, the daughter of Dietrich Kohn, inherited the house that her father built at 285 Hillside. She made this her full time residence. Marguerite because a curator for the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco and married Clyde S. Hickey - a sea captain, sports fisherman and director of the Schenley Sportsman’s Club. She passed away in 1995 at the age of 85.

The house sold to its second owner in 1996, when it went through an extensive expansion and remodel with Mill Valley architect, Robert Cosby. A large, dramatic great room was added – complete with thirteen foot ceilings, a wall of sliding glass doors, and massive antique light fixtures sourced from a dealer in New Orleans. This second owner also mounted the antique gryphons over the front door, giving the house its name.

Homes rarely turn over on this storied ridge – the current owner, who purchased the house in 2012, is only the third owner. Like those before her, she was drawn to the sun, breathtaking views, and proximity to town (seven minutes on foot via the Hillside Steps). Although being careful to keep the character and feeling that makes this house so special, she walked it through a full renovation … highlighted by the addition of an infinity lap pool, heated by solar and placed to reflect back the views of Mount Tamalpais, which remain unobstructed to this day.