Great Value for Millbrae Landlords
Darius Ogden Mills purchased land in the 1860s from the Sanchez family to build a country estate. The former Mills estate was bordered by what is now Skyline Boulevard, Bayshore Highway U.S. Route 101, Millbrae Avenue and Trousdale Drive. The estate became known as "Millbrae" from "Mills" and the Scottish word "brae," which means "rolling hills" or "hill slope." Children swam in three lakes situated on the estate and sold acacias to tourists before the Mills family began to sell the land for development. The estate's spectacular mansion burned down during a realistic "fire drill" in 1954.
Millbrae used a private patrol financed by fees from merchants and residents until 1941, when the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors created the Millbrae Police District. Records of the Internal Revenue Service document the licensing of several Millbrae bars for gambling; only after incorporation were gambling laws enforced in Millbrae and not until the 1950s was gambling defeated. In 1931, citizens organized a volunteer fire department, which remained entirely volunteer until 1938. The police and fire departments were housed together for several years at Hillcrest Boulevard and El Camino Real before the vital services moved to their permanent location in Millbrae's civic center, a few blocks west of El Camino.
For many Millbrae residents, the original Sixteen Mile House was a direct link to Millbrae's early days. The rest stop was built in 1872 by members of the Sanchez family, the original landholders of the Rancho Buri Buri, which at one time comprised parts of present-day Millbrae and Burlingame. The building faced demolition but was moved to its current location on Broadway and serves today as a tavern and restaurant.
Spurred largely by the desire to secure the Mills' estate for residential use and by the efforts of Millbrae's weekly newspaper, the Millbrae Sun, residents heatedly discussed incorporation for over a decade before voting to incorporate. Finally, on January 14, 1948, residents of Millbrae traveled to Sacramento to present their new city's charter. W.F. Leutenegger was elected mayor to represent Millbrae's nearly 8,000 residents. That year, Green Hills Elementary School opened as Millbrae's first new school in over 25 years, in anticipation of the educational needs of the post-war "baby boom" children. The new city's chief industries were agriculture, floriculture, dairy, and porcelain manufacturing. Many families that built the new city have never left.
In the 1950s, Millbrae residents united to resist efforts to divide the city by the planned Junipero Serra Freeway (I-280), which was later routed parallel to Junipero Serra Boulevard, then through a canyon in San Bruno up to Skyline Boulevard. An unsuccessful effort to save the original Sixteen Mile House in the 1970s led to the birth of the Millbrae Historical Society and eventual successful crusades to save the Millbrae train station and the historic building that has become the Millbrae Historical Museum. Such challenges, though inevitable, have only strengthened Millbrae's resolve to preserve the city's unique character and rich history.