Interviewed by Sally Hauser and Joan Brown, February 26, 1988
Mary Summers joined the County of Marin in 1941 and became the County's first Planning Director. During the 1950s she was a leader in the drive for a new Marin County Civic Center and helped to secure the Scettrini Ranch as the building site. She was a strong advocate for the selection of Frank Lloyd Wright as architect, and a member of the Civic Center Committee which met him in San Francisco in 1957. On March 25, 1958, the day Mr. Wright signed a contract with the County, she stood in his defense when a conservative faction of Marin residents accused him of being a communist.
During her tenure as Planning Director, Mrs. Summers oversaw the writing of master plans for the Stinson Beach-Bolinas area, the San Geronimo and Gallinas Valleys and the revision of the Novato master plan. Throughout her career, she was known as a conservationist.
After her retirement in 1962, Mrs. Summers became president of the Marin Conservation League and worked to establish the wildlife refuge at Richardson Bay. She died on August 30, 1988 at the age of 70.
In the excerpts that follow, Mary Summers tells of the need in the late 1950s for a new Marin County Civic Center and fairgrounds. She also describes Mr. Wright's first visit to the building site.
Above: Mary Summers at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Civic Center, 1987.