History of Maple Lawn & The Boyd Mansion:
John Franklin Boyd (1842-1920) formed a partnership with Seth and Dan Cook, and bought a mine in Bodie, California, that yielded a bonanza. He married his partner’s niece, Louise Cook Arner, who inherited the Cook estate in San Rafael, and another estate in Contra Costa County. Boyd continued to accrue assets through his skilled management, and the family enjoyed a charmed life. The Boyds took part in community affairs and shared their time between the two estates.
Maple Lawn was the name of the Boyds’ estate in San Rafael on Mission Avenue. The Cooks, who originally owned the house, had made extensive improvements to the property. Seth Cook bought six acres and added the Gate House (now the Marin History Museum on B Street) at the entrance to the drive in 1879.
Louise Arner Boyd had three children with John Franklin Boyd, Louise, Seth and John. The children had an ideal life romping in the large home and riding ponies around San Rafael. Then tragedy struck in 1901; within a year, the two boys died of heart disease caused by rheumatic fever.
Louise Boyd inherited all the Boyds’ assets at the age of 20 when her parents, Louise Arner Boyd and John Franklin Boyd, died. A trip to the Arctic in 1924 determined her future life, and she became an Arctic explorer. Louise financed seven expeditions to Greenland and surrounding areas for which she acted as the photographer. After the start of World War II, she came home to San Rafael and became involved in social and civic activities.
Louise kept Maple Lawn until she could no longer maintain the property. She sold the estate to the San Rafael Elks Lodge in the early 1960′s. Louise died in a nursing home in San Francisco on September 14, 1972, just before her 85th birthday.
(This history is provided by Marin History Museum’s publication of “Early San Rafael”)