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Mill Valley Home with Boozy Past and Architectural Salvage Asks $2.048M

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The history is as interesting as the house itself

The first thing we noticed about the house at 230 Rose Avenue in Mill Valley are the eight oversized square windows with asterisk-like mullions. They were salvaged from the Canadian Pavilion in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. (Want proof? A photo of the Pavilion comes with the house, just one of the historic relics the sellers are providing.)

The original house was built around 1920 by a San Francisco saloonkeeper put out of business by Prohibition. The barman moved to Mill Valley and built a distillery and bottling plant here. Legend has it that mules hauled raisins and prunes to the distillery to make "Champagne Cognac," and the brew was disguised by fancy French labels. (A pad of them are included in the sale.)

Later a home was constructed over the distillery and a cottage was built atop the bottling works. That cottage is now the dining room in the main house, and it's the only piece of the original building that survived a fire. This is where those windows live. The distillery burned in 1933 after Prohibition was lifted, and the current home was expanded by subsequent owners.

Today, it's a 2,680-square-foot dwelling on a .64 lot. It's set in grove of redwood trees (it is said that lookouts used to be stationed around the property to watch for the law). Two other cottages are on the property, and they could be used as a studio and guesthouse. The home has been completely remodeled, yet history still feels close at hand.