The Founding of the Marine Mammal Center at Fort Cronkhite

by Laurie Thompson

L to R: Paul Maxwell, Patricia Arrigoni & Lloyd Smalley, 2010 © Jere Visalli

We invite you to join Patricia Arrigoni & Paul Maxwell, two of the founders of the Marine Mammal Center, for a film & illustrated talk on the founding & development of the Marine Mammal Center at Fort Cronkhite on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12 noon in Room 330 of the Marin County Civic Center.

The talk will be followed by a book-signing of Patricia Arrigoni’s new book — The Marine Mammal Center: How It All Began. Recollections of One of the Founders.

Patricia Arrigoni, c.1973

In her book, Patricia provides a brief autobiography and tells how her involvement in the Marine Mammal Center began:

“My name is Patricia Arrigoni and I am a newspaper writer and editor. I am married to Peter Arrigoni, a former Marin County Supervisor and stockbroker. I became involved with the Boyd Natural Science Museum in the 1960s when women’s guilds were organized throughout the County of Marin to provide financial support for the museum. As I was a stay-at-home mom at that time, I joined the Fairfax Guild and was soon actively participating in the “Festival of Trees,’ “The Marin Ski Swap” and other fund-raising efforts.”

“Within a year or two I was elected President of the Fairfax Guild and a couple of years later, President of all fourteen guilds….. When I retired in 1973, I was awarded ‘Honorary Board Member for Life’.”

Baby Harbor Seal recovering at the Marine Mammal Center. © Patricia Arrigoni

“In an era of new beginnings, I had led a fund-raising campaign to build a new natural history musuem/fine art facility at the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center…The site was to be on the island in the lagoon where the Marin County Fair sets up their entertainment rides….Unfortunately, after I retired from the Boyd Museum…the entire dream of a new museum dissolved.”

Louise A. Boyd Natural Science Museum, San Rafael

“When Paul Maxwell called me to help with establishing a cooperative wildlife rehabilitation center, I became as enthusiastic as he and [Lloyd] Smalley. Disappointed that the museum designed for the Civic Center site had failed, I hoped this project would succeed. We all began scouring the county for a site. When Paul suggested the old Nike missle site at Fort Cronkhite, we all thought it would be perfect, and I went to work politically to obtain it.”

Originally published at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room


The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library