The town of Tomales is notable for its collection of intact architecture, the diversity of which reflects the evolution of the village. From the earliest vernacular houses and Italianate commercial buildings to the simple Queen Anne cottages, from the early 20th century industrial buildings, Craftsman style houses, and Spanish Colonial Revival school to the pair of 1960s era duplexes, the architecture of Tomales is a study of the town’s past. And though few of the buildings are architect designed, the unaltered parts of most of them exhibit a simple dignity of style and proportion. (An example of this is the "slit post" seen on several houses: an unpretentious, economical, yet decorative use of plain lumber to function as porch roof supports.) The primary theme which runs through these disparate styles and unites them in harmony is, for the most part, their guileless quality and their modesty of style and scale.
Between the 1906 earthquake when four masonry buildings were demolished
(including a stone Richardsonian Romanesque church) and a disastrous 1920
fire which burned more than fifteen mostly commercial buildings, much of
significance was lost. But much remains, a high degree of architectural
and historical integrity is evident, and early photographs of the town seem
strikingly similar to the Tomales of today. The historic significance of
these venerable buildings cannot be denied, and our knowledge of them gives
life and depth to what we know of the area’s history.