San Rafael, City with a Mission

 Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head toward wine country and, before long, you’ll find yourself in sunny, thriving San Rafael. Stay for a while to explore the quiet grounds of the college campus or soak up the history at a museum.

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

What became the city of San Rafael was first home to Coast Miwok villages and later settled by Spanish explorers. Three priests built the mission and named it after Archangel Raphael, the angel of healing. It soon served as a hospital for travelers from San Francisco. The original mission fell into disrepair but was rebuilt in 1949.

San Rafael and the Entertainment Industry

George Lucas filmed THX 1138 in San Rafael, and the town soon drew others from the entertainment industry. Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Ranch is still in Marin and has a 153,000-square foot technical building with multiple editing suites. Lucas also founded Industrial Light and Magic for special effects.

Several parts of American Graffiti were shot at San Rafael’s Marin County Civic Center. Later, the Center also served as the set for Gattaca, starring Ethan Hawke. Because of Lucas’ activity in the area, several major video game developers built studios in town. Broderbund Software created Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Myst and SimCity. Visual Concepts created EA Sports titles and games for Sega Sports. Mind Control Software won top honors at the Independent Games festival for its game Oasis.

Arts and Culture

As you walk the downtown streets from American Graffiti, you can’t miss the splashy Gothic Revival Boyd Gate House. The classic Victorian mansion was built in 1879 and is now the Marin History Museum. After you’ve viewed the artwork and historical artifacts inside, stroll down to the Smith Rafael Film Center, which offers special programs and screenings you won’t find anywhere else. Enjoy Shakespeare all summer at the Marin Shakespeare Company.

Wherever you go, you’ll notice the people of San Rafael are friendly, welcoming and hard working. At Ongaro and Sons, we’re proud to serve a community with such a rich heritage. We aren’t just heating, cooling and plumbing specialists; we’re a family-owned and operated part of Marin County. Contact us today for your heating, cooling and plumbing needs.