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An $11.8 million compound for sale across the bay from San Francisco was once owned by a brothel madam who became a small-town mayor. Here’s what it’s like at Valhalla, which may become the area’s next private social club.

Valhalla rendering image based on current plans
Sausalito, California.

A waterfront compound across the bay from San Francisco was once a restaurant serving the likes of Marlon Brando and Lucille Ball. Now it’s for sale for $11.8 million. Sausalito’s Valhalla compound sits right on the waterfront with views of the city in the distance. The property is a beloved landmark in the region — it was once owned by a prominent San Francisco brothel madam who would later become the mayor of Sausalito. “When you think of Sausalito, you think of Valhalla,” the property’s listing agent Lydia Sarkissian told Business Insider. Its views and location mean it could potentially be turned into a number of things, but Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty CMO Kevin Dwyer told Business Insider that one possibility is a private social club that could become “The Battery for Marin.”

Here’s what the property is like — and what’s in store for its future buyer:

Sausalito is a quaint waterside town across the bay from San Francisco.

Sausalito photo as seen from the San Francisco bay
Sausalito, California.

There are restaurants and shops catering to tourists and residential areas, as well as a marina where residents living in houseboats have set up shop. There are also some tech companies based here, like job review site Glassdoor. The Valhalla compound sits on Bridgeway, a road that winds along the waterfront. This is where most of the tourist attractions are.

This is the first time in almost a decade that the Valhalla compound has been listed.

There are two adjacent homes included in the listing: a 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom house next door and a 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom guesthouse.

One of the homes is currently being rented out and is occupied by a tenant. And then there’s the main 7,800-square-foot structure that comes with six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The main structure is technically unfinished — visuals included in the listing are renderings, not photos.

According to the listing agents, the interior of the property was left alone so that buyers can change it how they wish, and they can zone it commercially or residentially. The exterior and the boardwalk is being worked on. It’s ready to show though, and its square footage and location give it plenty of potential. It could be a legacy family compound, according to the listing agents, or the buyer could be a young entrepreneur looking to turn it into a private social club. “It has a history of being a social space,” Dwyer said.  The future buyer also could even turn it into a Speakeasy-themed venue in homage to its past.

The compound was originally called Walhalla and was designed as a German Biergarten when it was built in 1893.

One of the homes is currently being rented out and is occupied by a tenant. And then there’s the main 7,800-square-foot structure that comes with six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The main structure is technically unfinished — visuals included in the listing are renderings, not photos.

It became a popular spot for bootlegging alcohol when Prohibition rolled around. And in the late 1940s, it was purchased by Sally Stanford, a well-known figure in San Francisco who once ran a handful of brothels in the city. One of them, in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood, was reportedly visited by Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart, according to KQED. After multiple arrests and tiffs with local police, she left San Francisco for Sausalito in the late 1940s, at which time she bought what was then the Walhalla. Stanford changed the name to Valhalla, a place in Norse mythology where slain warriors gather in a kind of heaven. Stanford’s Valhalla was designed as a place for patrons to eat and drink, but there were local rumors that Stanford’s previous occupation was part of Valhalla operations — there was a red light at the back of the building, a signal long used to indicate that prostitution houses were open for business.

The restaurant, bar, and dance hall became as beloved in Sausalito as did her brothels across the bay in San Francisco.

The likes of Marlon Brando, Bing Crosby, and Lucille Ball visited the place. “Up to the ’70s, this was the place to go to if you were on the west coast,” the property’s owner Alex Kashef told SF Gate. “If you were on the west coast you had to come to the Valhalla and have dinner with Sally.” Her wit and character earned her a beloved reputation in Sausalito as well. In the 1970s, Stanford successfully ran for city council, garnering support from local women’s clubs. And in 1976, her popularity with the public propelled her into the role of mayor of Sausalito, which she held for four years. She died in 1982. But her legacy lives on, not just in a bust in Sausalito’s visitor center or a water fountain near the ferry terminal that reads “HAVE A DRINK ON SALLY.” The owner and Sausalito resident, Kashef, wanted to turn the compound into a hotel when he purchased it in 2012. But the surrounding neighbors pushed back on that plan, so Kashef swapped it out for a plan for a residential compound.

Regardless of what the property becomes, it will offer stunning views of the bay and the city.