Biography of John MacBain

The development of a few graveled lanes to eighty miles of paved and macadam boulevards is part of the story of “honest” John MacBain’s seven years as supervisor of the Third Township.

When John MacBain took office, in 1904, his dream was to give his constituents a system of perfect roads. With not a foot of macadam or paved road in his township, he started out on this gigantic undertaking, on which he has worked tirelessly ever since, with the exception of the four years that he was not in office.

The roads of the Third Township now have no superiors in the State. The two main arteries are the State Highway and the Middlefield road, both of which are paved. From them branch off Atherton avenue, Fair Oaks avenue and Oak Grove avenue, all of which are paved, and Ringwood road, Glenwood avenue and Valparasio avenue which are macadamized. The Woodside road is a perfectly paved stretch running from Five Points, six miles back in the hills, to Woodside. A beautiful macadam and paved road connects Woodside, Portola and Menlo Park. Plans are in preparation for the improvement of the Alpine road and the macadamized boulevard into La Honda considered to have few rivals in California.

Supervisor MacBain has administered his other official duties as competently as he has built his roads. He was one of the leading spirits in the building of the new county court house, and he has been active on all the leading committees of the board. The careful and thorough manner with which he has deliberated on the claims against the county has caused him to be popularly called the “watch dog” of the San Mateo County. Treasury.

In private life Supervisor MacBain is one of the leading contractors of the peninsula. He was a carpenter by trade. In 1880 he branched out into contracting and since then he has been identified with the largest building projects in San Francisco and San Mateo County. He has constructed many large business blocks and public buildings in San Francisco. At present he is engaged in reconstructing the American Theater there, which was one of his first large contracts in San Francisco.

No contractor has built more of the magnificent country mansions for which San Mateo county is noted than John MacBain. He just completed the beautiful country home of C. Frederick Kohl at Easton. Others that he erected are the homes of David F. Walker, at San Mateo; Samuel Knight in Hillsborough; John Henry Meyer at Atherton; E. W. Hopkins, Gus Taylor and William H. Taylor at Menlo Park. Many of the public buildings, schoolhouses and large industrial plants of the county were built by MacBain.

John MacBain was born in Pictou County, Novo Scotia, on October 3, 1849. His parents were farmers. After he had learned his trade lie worked in several large eastern cities and in 1874 he came to California. He moved to Menlo Park in June, 1878, where he has since resided and where he now lives with his family.



Alexander, Philip W.; Hamm, Charles P. History of San Mateo County from the Earliest Times: With a Description of Its Resources and Advantages: and the Biographies of Its Representative Men. San Mateo County, California: Press of Burlingame Publishing Company. 1916.

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