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Dutil/French Cottages/Verdier’s, Part Two

Paul Verdier died in 1945. His daughter and her husband, John Piro, take over and managed the resort until 1962. During this period, the resort was extensively photographed by Zan Stark. Several elaborate brochures were also produced .

In 1962 Paul Verdier, the younger, died. He and his sisters had sold the resort to Hugh B. Nyce (really!) that year. Then, in 1964 a big change.

1964 October-Juanita Musson takes ownership of Verdier’s.

Juanita was a well known, even notorious, restaurateur in Sausalito from 1953 to 1963.  The IT informed us “Mrs. Musson, whose language at times is as colorful as her muumuus, was popular restaurateur in Sausalito between 1953 and 1963. Early in 1964, with the backing of Scott Mc Donald of San Francisco, she took over Verdier’s. She ran the business as Juanita’s Galley until 1969, when a fire consumed the dining room, kitchen, owner’s quarters, and several outbuildings. Juanita did not close the business, however. “She still plans to cater a dinner this coming weekend for a Sears Point Raceway group at the Veterans Memorial building which she has rented for the occasion. While the bar will continue “business as usual,” Mrs. Musson told the Index-Tribune yesterday she also hopes to make arrangements for the preparation and serving of food in the and dance hall area.”

A small article next to the bottom photograph notes that lawsuits against PGE for starting the 1964 fire in Boyes Hot Springs, were settled. In 1969. Everything old is new again, the wheels of justice, etc.

Juanita was not able to resurrect the El Verano resort and moved on to Fetters Hot Springs.

Ms. Musson, who loomed large in the Springs for many years, will get her own entry in this journal soon.


Two of the buildings that did not burn looked like this in 2006.

By 2012, the property have been divided and sold to several people. A new house was built that incorporated some of the resort into the back yard.



Back yard of new house on Verdier’s property, 2012, showing the bar, fireplace and sheet metal sign.

This sign was donated to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society by Eric Morrison.

Index Tribune and photo of Juanita courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Other photos by author or from author’s collection.

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El Verano, History, mid-century, People, Resorts

Dutil/French Cottages/Verdier’s

The “French Colony” of Sonoma Valley included the Dutil, Lounibos, and Verdier families. The Lounibos’ arrived from France in 1873, the Dutils and Verdiers in 1893. (A different Verdier family came from France to San Francisco in 1850. They founded the City of Paris department store.)

By 1900 Jean and Anna Dutil were running a boarding house in El Verano, and improving it. “J. Dutil received a carload of lumber here Monday with which he will build a five room annex to his private boarding house in this place,”  wrote the Index Tribune.  After construction was complete, “Doc Wilson is painting J. Dutil’s villa. The colors are red white and blue.”

In 1902 “Mons J. Dutil, mine host of the French Cottage [as it was now called] will commence the erection of a large hotel in this place in a few days.”

Mrs. Anna Dutil died in 1943. According to the IT, she was 80 years old and came from Lyon France “fifity years ago,” ie, 1893.  “she and her husband founded the French Cottage, one Sonoma Valley’s first summer resorts, now Verdier’s.”

Post marked 1912.

According to historian Joan Lounibos, the Verdiers, Paul and his wife, worked for the Dutils at the boarding house, and, by 1922, they were the proprietors. “Mr. and Mrs. P. Verdier of the popular resort, the French Cottage, are making many improvements about the grounds, laying out beautiful gardens, painting the different buildings and getting ready for the coming season.”

By 1929, the resort was called Verdier’s. In the spring of that year, the Young Ladies Institute “enjoyed a bounteous repast at Verdier’s French cottage. The tables were beautifully decorated with daffodils and smilax, and the menu was elaborate, with chicken, ravioli and French pastry.”

1930s

1939-Paul Verdier makes more improvements

Paul Verdier died in 1945. His daughter and her husband, John Piro, take over and manage the resort until 1962. During this period, the resort was extensively photographed by Zan Stark. Several elaborate brochures were produced also.

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