John Molloy: Painting History
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
FAIRFAX — Before he was painting Bay Area homes, John Molloy had already made a name for himself on his native East Coast by taking advantage of a singular opportunity to make—or rather, paint—history. “I started painting houses in the mid-1970s, and soon after I began to pursue a career in historic restoration, which, being in New York, was a trade in high demand,” he explains. “I was on the ground floor of the American revival movement, where people were going into inner cities and restoring historic buildings that had fallen into disrepair. I had the privilege of working on rooms in buildings where George Washington met with his commanders, such as the Van Cortlandt Mansion in New York City and the Gold Room in the officer’s club at West Point Military Academy.”
After 15 years in the historic restoration business, John decided it was time for a change of pace (and climate) and relocated to the West Coast in 1990. “Honestly, I got tired of working in the humidity back East,” he says. “From the sweltering summers to the frigid winters, that extreme weather just wears on you after a while.” After establishing himself in the local community by working for the painter’s union, John struck out on his own once again and founded John Molloy Painting.
A resident of Fairfax, where he lives with his wife, Soyara, and their teenage sons, Jack and Connor, John says he appreciates the verdant beauty that characterizes Marin County. “I would say Marin is the region of California that comes closest to matching the terrain back East, with its green forests and rolling hills. If you were to fly over the state, most of it would appear brown, but once you came to Marin, you’d see everything start to turn green and lush.”
Outside of work, John’s primary hobby is playing the drums, both at his home studio and at local live performances. “My father was a Juilliard graduate, and he instilled in me a passion for music that I carry to this day,” he says. When he’s not on stage or in the studio, John is likely to be found hanging out with his wife and sons and keeping up with his oldest daughter, Lauren, who currently lives in New York. “I get a real joy from being with my family—they’re undoubtedly the most important part of my life.”
In his life and career, John espouses the importance of adopting frugal habits to achieve long-term financial prosperity. “I once asked a successful person what the secret to success was, and he said, ‘If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.’ That stuck with me, and gradually I started to trim the fat. Once you start dropping the $3 coffees and other petty expenses, you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make for your financial situation.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, John says he’d return to school to pursue a long-deferred formal education. “I wasn’t a good student when I was younger—I just wasn’t interested in sitting in a classroom and learning from books. As I got older, however, I came to value reading and developed a passion for learning new things. That being said, if I retired tomorrow, I’d go back to school to study music and possibly law.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?
A: As a drummer, it starts with Buddy Rich, who is probably the greatest drummer who ever walked the face of the earth. On the other end of the spectrum, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin was also a huge influence for me.
Q: Other than drums, if you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: I’d have to say Sorella Caffe in Fairfax, which is my wife’s restaurant.
Q: Do you like fiction or nonfiction books?
A: Nonfiction books—especially biographies.
Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
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A: I love a good cherry pie.