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Community Details

Hamilton Field, Marin County, CA

Hamilton Control Tower


Hamilton Field is a community in Novato built with a unique objective.  It is a planned community of six neighborhoods, both residential and commercial, an elementary school, library, community center, arts center, amphitheater, and numerous outdoor activities including a pool, a skateboard park, and a state-of-the-art playground, all built to reuse an abandoned air force base.

This site on the southwestern side of Novato, up against the bay, was for decades Hamilton Air Force Base.  Originally an airfield in the 1920's, it was commissioned by the Army Air Corps in 1932, designed to house four bomber squadrons.  On December 7, 1941 a group of B-17's was dispatched from Hamilton to Pearl Harbor to help contend with the growing Japanese threat in the Pacific.  Radar operators in Pearl Harbor mistook the Japanese invasion for this expected assistance.  Hamilton AFB was rapidly expanded during WWII, and in 1966 Hamilton become the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).  Hamilton AFB was finally decommissioned in 1974 during military spending cutbacks.

Hamilton Army Airfield was named for First Lieutenant Lloyd Andrew Hamilton, a pilot from Marin who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during WWI.  It was built in a unique architectural style, Spanish Eclectic, which combines elements of Mission, Spanish Churrigueresque, Renaissance, and Art Moderne, producing the attractive reinforced concrete construction, stucco exteriors and Mission tile roofs.  Development of the base was planned as a community.  Landscapes were designed to integrate natural oak groves, knolls and hills, and facilities included a base hospital and a post theater along with officers' housing and hangars.

The area remained vacant for decades while the City of Novato rejected development plans that didn't capture the essence of what they wanted to provide with the property.  Much of the debate centered around restoration of these architecturally unique buildings built in the 1930's.  Restoration is always the most expensive building option, but the planning committees felt it was important to develop a distinctive look for Hamilton Field as well as preserving the important heritage of the base. 

These notions have paid off.  Now Hamilton Landing boasts a thriving business community.  The renovated hangers offer an engaging industrial look.  Many of the businesses that have relocated to Hamilton (Smith & Hawken, Birkenstock, Army Corps of Engineers, Disney moving in soon) note that the hip, non-corporate look of the space and the up-to-date, green engineering are what make the business park ideal for them.  Businesses also like the community feel, with cafes, the YMCA, nature trails, the library and affordable housing all within walking distance of work.

The former airfield landing strip and the north Antenna Field are currently part of the ambitious Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project.  The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California State Coastal Conservancy, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission are working together to restore 988 acres of diverse wetland and wildlife habitats that benefit a number of threatened, endangered and other species, as well as provide areas for recreation. 

Hamilton Field has successfully created a safe, family-oriented, small town.  The restored base buildings have become a town center.  Families live in restored officers' housing or brand new subdivisions and enjoy 70 acres of parks.


Bel Marin Keys and Hamilton Field Property Search (Zip 94949)) - Homes, Condos & Lots Currently for Sale



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