SF Gate covers Howard Wynn’s historic Mill Valley listing
April 26, 2018
The oldest standing home in Mill Valley is currently for sale (the dead bodies have been removed)
In 2004, when the previous owners were remodeling, workers found the remains of three bodies dating back to the 1800s. Was one Mill Valley’s first settler John Thomas Reed?
It’s utterly remarkable to look at a grainy black-and-white photo dating back to 1913 of a splendid house known as Cypress Knoll in Mill Valley — and see it there surrounded by nothing but cows.
The sturdy three-story farmhouse sits atop a hill with Mount Tamalpais looming behind. The front-porch overlooks a vast swath of pastoral grazing land — a majestic valley that’s now the location of downtown Mill Valley, two Whole Foods stores, dozens of cafes and bike shops and hundreds of other homes.
That same six-bedroom house, now carefully restored and blocks from the bustling downtown, still exists at 10 Manor Terrace. It’s the oldest standing home in Mill Valley and you can buy it for $4.995 million.
“It makes sense that they chose to build the house up on a knoll because it gives you 365-degree views even though you’re in a valley,” says the owner Tim Hyer. “There are other homes in Mill Valley with views like this but you have to head into the hills. All the homes in the flats are much smaller.”
Carmelita and Hugh Boyle are the original owners who built the home and chose the special location in 1885. They were dairy farmer and Carmelita was the daughter of John Reed, Mill Valley’s original settler who inherited the Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio land grant stretching between Corte Madera and Mill Valley.
In fact, when former owners discovered three bodies under the home during reconstruction, local historians concluded that one of them was likely Reed. The body was puzzlingly buried in a silk-lined coat, not the typical attire of the ranchers who lived in the area.
Reed who ran a successful sawmill was the region’s wealthiest resident at the time, and he might have been able to afford such a suit. But the body was never officially identified by DNA analysis as there are only female surviving descendants of Reed and male descendants carrying a Y Chromosome are necessary.
The bodies have since been removed and properly buried elsewhere, but many of the home’s original details still remain such as the hardwood floors, ceiling medallions and decorative wainscoting. Hyer and his wife also updated the home, removing a wall in the kitchen to create a lofty “great room” space combining the kitchen and living and dining rooms.
“The floor plan back then consisted of four squares, and you went from one box of a room into another box of a room,” Hyer says. “We tried to make it flow more like a modern house. We also made all the doorway openings larger.”
When the Hyers purchased the property four years ago, the backyard was paved over for cars. They entirely reimagined the space, building a terraced garden with fruit trees and vegetables, a deck and a bocce ball court—all with stunning views of Mount Tam.
“That’s where we spend the majority of our time,” Hyer says.
The Hyers are moving with their children across the country to be closer to family and they’re sad to leave behind this home they’ve restored and updated with care.
“We didn’t know it was possible to love a house as much as we love this one,” they wrote in a letter to potential buyers. “We put our hearts into this house and are so proud of what it can provide for any loving family.”