In 1882 Captain Henry E. Boyes, a retired officer of the Indian Navy, arrived in Sonoma Valley with his wife Antoinette. Looking for a genteel and healthful retreat, they were persuaded by T. L. Leavenworth to buy 110 boggy acres of his 320-acre portion of the Rancho Agua Caliente land grant. After developing the hot springs as a resort, in 1902 he sold his portion of the corporation and built a grand house overlooking the springs, which he called El Mirador.
The house was the scene of “ many hospitable social affairs” according to the Index Tribune. On the evening of September 16, 1905, “El Mirador,” the beautiful home of Captain and Mrs. Boyes, was the scene of a delightful party…The home was brilliantly illuminated and decorated in waving palm branches, asparagus ferns and flowers…About sixty ladies and gentlemen were present…regular dancing (was) interspersed with clever vaudeville numbers…The hit of the evening was Jack Kelly, who sang several ragtime numbers…About 11:30 the doors of the dining room were thrown open and the guests invited to partake of a typical English supper, which was greatly enjoyed…Dancing was then continued and before the guests departed flash-light photographs were taken of the party.”
If only we had those photos!
In July of 1912 a farewell reception was held at El Mirador for the Boyes. After 30 years in the valley, they were departing for San Diego. Speeches were made and “dances and vocal solos by Mrs. Emparan and Miss Ramona Granice…” were enjoyed. Ominously in hindsight, the new owner of the house, Mr. Carlow, gave a “fire-extinguishing demonstration on the hillside.”
The house, along with many other buildings in Boyes Springs, burned in 1917. Antoinette Boyes died in San Diego, year unknown. Captain Boyes died in San Francisco in 1919.
In following years, the property was divided into several lots. Today Madera St. runs through it. Was this street the “approach” to El Mirador? Is the structure below the last visible remnant of the house?
Index Tribune and photographs courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.