Lyford House

Archive of the Mendocino Heritage Artists

Lyford House: The Goat Lady’s House

The Goat Lady’s House by Charles Marchant Stevenson (1960). Acrylic (29″ x 23″). Private collection.

Charles Marchant Stevenson began The Goat Lady’s House in the mid-1950s, at the Goat Lady’s dairy farm outside Tiburon. In 1960, just before Stevenson moved  to Mendocino, he completed the painting at his studio in San Francisco.

Stevenson’s luminous portrait of the simple Queen Anne house, glowing in early morning light at the edge of the sea, evokes the last woman who made it her home.

Stevenson’s lifelong friend Arnold Borley remembers: Last time I saw it, the Goat Lady’s house was still standing on the road leading to Tiburon. A little white-haired old lady owned the place. She lived there and she had a group of goats. She lived very frugally. While Charles painted the house, we often spoke with the owner. She said that she was keeping the house to donate to someone who would preserve it. I remember her saying that developers had offered her great sums, but she knew they would tear down the little hill behind the house. “I don’t want anyone to destroy my little hill,” she said. That lady was an original.

The Goat Lady, her goats, and her little hill, are gone, but her house was saved by Marin County preservationists. In 1957 Lyford House was barged from the Stawberry Point goat farm at the edge of Richardson Bay, across to the spectacular Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, where the Goat Lady’s house stands in a meadow on another road to Tiburon.

Built in the 1870s, Lyford House – the Goat Lady’s house – is now a Registered Historical Landmark, open to the public on special days.