Pixie Park Goes Back to its Roots

This beloved children’s playground is getting a new look with retro appeal, hearkening back to its founding.

On nearly any day of the year, you can count on hearing children’s laughter and the squeak of swings coming from somewhere up on the hillside above  Marin Art & Garden Center. If you follow the sounds up the path and around the Giant Sequoia, you find yourself at Pixie Park. For the past six months, however, you’d be hearing the grind of heavy machinery instead, as the park has been undergoing a major renovation that will restore many of the features that have made it a favorite spot for families since 1952.

The Park was established under the leadership of Elizabeth Terwilliger, a familiar name to almost anyone who grew up in Marin. Mrs. T, a naturalist and volunteer at the Marin Art & Garden Center, worked with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to help create a place where volunteers’ children could play while they were at the Center. Sepha Evers donated funds for the construction of the Pavilion, which her husband, architect Albert Evers, designed to honor their son who was killed in World War II.

Royston’s plan for the playground, 1958

As a safe, enclosed space, the new playground was immediately a success and membership grew rapidly; the group incorporated as Pixie Parents in 1957 to continue to fundraise and improve the park. That same year, the group brought in noted landscape architect Robert Royston to redesign the play area, giving it a distinctive mid-century look with a number of modernist play structures and its unique splash pad water play area. Its naturalistic lines follow the curves of the oak-shaded hillside and reflect the surrounding landscape.

Generations of children have now enjoyed the park’s charms. It continues to function as a volunteer-run cooperative playground for children age six and younger; because it is fenced and gated, children are free to play and parents can relax knowing they can’t wander off. Families fulfill their membership by volunteering their time for Pixie’s various events and fundraisers.

Naturally, some of the features that made the playground special have been lost over time, and the site itself began to suffer from erosion and wear. In 2018, the Pixie Parents began a major fundraiser to restore the park’s characteristic attractions, and the renovation project broke ground in October 2019. Local landscape architect Holly Selvig has designed the new plan, which also brings the playground in line with ADA requirements so children of all abilities will be able to enjoy its slides, sand and shaded spaces.

Although the shelter in place order did delay the work on the site for some weeks, construction has now resumed and the project is on track to finish this summer. All of us in the Marin Art & Garden Center community are looking forward to a grand reopening when the time comes.

More to explore

IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at tod.thorpe@maringarden.org to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center