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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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Architecture, Fetters Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People

From Tripp’s to El Brinquito

The store at the corner of Highway 12 and Depot Road in Fetters Hot Springs has been important in that community since at least the 1950s. Fetters Food Mart is first mentioned in the Index Tribune in 1952. The owner at that time is not mentioned, but we know that changed in 1956 when Mr. and Mrs. Roger Cleland sold to Mr. and Mrs. Victor Frolich, “formerly of Lodi.”

In 1963 the Tripp family took over.

 

Sharon Williams via Facebook: “This great photo was in the Our Supporter’s section of the 1965 El Padre. It is Tripp’s Corner Grocery, on Hwy 12, and we have Shirleen (Tripp) Perry (class 1966,) her brothers, plus Robin Dodson (1966) holding the dog.” (Cecil Tripp, owner, is at right.) The Nasso’s building can be seen in the background.

In February, 1966 the Index Tribune informs “the store is now operated by Mrs. Fena Parise, of Santa Rosa.”

“Opposite Nasso’s Gift House”

And in June 1967, “George Raby has taken over the former Fena’s Grocery at 17380 Sonoma Hwy., Fetters Springs. To be known as George’s Grocery, the store is on the corner of the road that goes down to Flowery School and is directly opposite Mountain Avenue. Raby formerly operated a grocery store in Boyes Springs and prior to that had one at Hooker Oaks.”



From the 1980s until 2005 it was known as Mike’s Market.

2005 First mention of El Brinquito. Photo 2008, Nasso’s building still standing.
Photo 2008

Rico Martin’s whimsical albeit controversial designs were introduced in 2015.

The Nasso’s building was replaced by the Vialetti family’s new structure, which was completed in 2019.

Bonus: Nasso’s ad from 1963

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

Photographs by author. Yearbook photo from the “You Know you’re From Sonoma When” Facebook page.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names

Pine Avenue

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Pine Avenue is shown on a County recorder’s map “Hotel Grounds Subdivision” which dates to before 1923. On that map there is a canal, starting near the hotel, crossing Boyes Blvd., and running down Pine Avenue. It ends in a large pond adjacent to the entrance of the Bath House. The canal did not exist long, if at all. Photos of the Bath House entrance from the 1920s show no pond.

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The Boyes Bath House in 1910. The end of the canal would have been somehwere at the right. The entrance to the Bath House was on Pine Avenue.

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This pond was in front of the “Old Hotel,” which was located where the Sonoma Mission Inn is today. Possibly the origin of the Pine Avenue canal.

On the fourth of August, 1916, the Boyes Hot Springs corporation, which owned all the land around the hotel which is now the Sonoma Mission Inn, sold lot numbers 155 and 156 (actually on Northside St., parallet to Pine) of the Hotel Grounds subdivision to Mary O. Cookson. She was enjoined by the boiler plate language of the “indenture” (deed) not to drill for water and, in the overt racism typical of the day, not to allow the occupation of the property by “Asiatics or negroes.”

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The signers of the deed for the Corporation were Henry Trevor and R. G. Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg became a proprietor of the Boyes Bath House, and a street is named for him in that vicinity.

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The principle resort on Pine Avenue was the Evergreen Cottages, which dates from the early 1920s. The main building, housing a bar know variously as Mary’s or Leo’s was on Pine, but the resort extended to Northside St. In the center of the cottages was an open area said to have been a boxing ring. This is plausible as the training of fighters was common in the Springs in the era before WWII. Louis Parente was well known for hosting workouts at his place in El Verano.

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In February of 1940 the Index Tribune and dozens of local businesses welcome the San Francisco Seals to the baseball grounds at Boyes Hot Springs for spring training. Among them was Mary’s Evergreen Cottages. Their boxed ad boasted “dancing, sulphur baths swimming.” The baths and swimming were courtesy of the Boyes Bath House at the end of Pine Avenue, and dancing might have been in the large square area in the center of the cottage cluster.

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On September 16, 1949, William Johnson and Milton Gregor, proprietors of the Boyes Bath House, leased Leo’s Evergreen to Thomas Mayhew and Celanire Mayhew. The Mayhews gave notice, the same day, that they would engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages at the Evergreen.

In April of 1951, Ruby Coronas bought the Evergreen Resort from Johnson and Greger.In 1955 she celebrated the fourth anniversary with an ad in the IT.

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Joe, a native of Spain, died in Sonoma in 1971. Ruby died the same year, in Colusa.

In May of 1954, the Jack London Lodge of the American Legion hosted a candidates night at the Evergreen Resort. “Post commander Ed Reedy said that all candidates for federal, state, and county offices had been invited to be present, and that “most of them” had signified they will attend…” According to a June 3rd article in the IT, some of the candidates were Charles E. Greenfield, for state senator, 12th district, Oscar Larson for a Republican central committee post, and James J. Manning, of Boyes Hot Springs, unopposed for constable in the Sonoma judicial district. (Do we still have a constable?) Interestingly, among the polling places was Perkin’s Memorial Hall on Agua Caliente Rd., location unknown today. The Verano East polling place is listed as the Grange Hall on Highway 12, showing how notions of the boundaries between communities shifted over time as the (former) Grange Hall is now considered to be in Boyes Hot Springs. Archaic places names that had polling places included Cooper, Eaton, and San Luis.

The resort was for sale in 1996 for $449,000. It was said to be in “part of the up and coming area of Boyes Hot Springs.”EvergreeRealtyAd1996

Another resort on Pine was the Golden Oaks, which was on the corner of Pine and Northside, or Pine and Gregor, depending on which source you chose. In a 1968 article the Index Tribune gave the address as 130 Pine, which would put it at the Gregor end.

The first mention of the resort in the IT is in 1932. From 1938 to 1950 a Mr. and Mrs. Zinkulsen owned and operated it. In 1950 they sold to Bertha I. Donnelson. In the notice of the transaction the Golden Oaks was said to consist of eleven cottages and an owner’s residence.

Crime on Pine

Apparently Pine Avenue was a rough place in 1950. Around 11PM on September 8 of that year a street brawl broke out between seven young men, according to the IT headline. However, in the story it turned out that twelve youths were arrested and three were in the hospital, one with his “belly cut open.” He survived.PineAveBrawl1950.2

16 Pine Avenue was an interesting looking building. Apparently a store, it was in use as a residence up to 2009. It was boarded up in 2010 and demolished in 2019. In 1969, the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development was contacted by Boyes Springs Resort owner Luis Vela about a redevelopment program for the Springs. According to the IT, “Vela said he had conferred with HUD officials and others from San Francisco on the Boyes redevelopment plan. Preliminary proposals set this up on a three-stage basis. The first area to be upgraded under such a pilot project, said Vela, might be the section between the creek and Highway 12…”

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These photos, courtesy of Sonoma County Library, show an area, Pine Avenue, that could be included in the project. 16 Pine Avenue is shown. Redevelopment did no start in earnest until the late 1990s. We got sidewalks and street lights and some improvements to commercial buildings before Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment statewide in 2011. The sidewalk project was completed with county funds in 2016.

In 2004 a new development was built at Pine and Gregor. It consists of nine, small, two story homes plus an older home that was remodeled. Four of the units were meant to be “affordable.” John Bonfini was the developer. I believe the Bonfini development was built on the Golden Oaks site. Photo of the “older home,” possibly the Golden Oaks owner’s residence.

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Photo collage watercolor by Michael Acker of a section of Pine Ave.

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonma Valley Historical Society. Photographs and maps from the author’s collection.

 

 

 

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Art, Boyes Hot Springs, Entertainment, Resorts, Valley of the Moon Main Stem Project

Coney Island

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Mr. Wolf Baron (sometimes Wulf Barron) announced the construction of the Coney Island resort on his tract of land in Boyes Hot Springs in December of 1922. Construction started in January 1923. The Index Tribune described it this way: “Sonoma Valley’s amusement park and tent city modeled after one of the leading resorts of southern California has been started. The park project is being financed by Wulf Barron (sic) and is being built on the 39 acre tract owned by Barron at Verano. There will be 30 summer cottages to occupy the shady bands of Sonoma creek, swimming pool, children’s playgrounds, etc. On the highway there will be a big amusement hall for dancing and pictures, restaurant, bowling alley and modern gasoline service station.”

Then in July: “The $100,000 amusement park at Verano[1] had scarcely opened its doors before financial troubles loomed. The Patriarchs’ Militant Band[2], who played at the opening, first attached the place, but their attachment has been lifted. Among local creditors are a lumber company and hardware firm.”

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[1] Boundaries between communities in the Springs are and have been flexible. Baron’s Villa Tract, on the Highway just north of Agua Caliente Creek, is considered to be in Boyes Hot Springs today. Rosenthal’s Resort, opposite Baron’s, was also sometimes placed in Verano. However, on maps it appears that Verano is on the south side of Agua Caliente Creek. See maps.

[2] I wonder what they were militant about?

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The paper was not shy about touting Harry Fine’s “pull” with the sheriff’s office. Cigarettes were cheap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things got so bad for Wolf Baron, that rumors circulated that he had been confined to Napa State Hospital. These were unfounded.

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Baron was out of the picture, but Coney Island was still a popular venue, this time for “pictures.” In September of 1923, film producer, director, actor and flimflam artist Harold “Josh” Binney leased Coney Island for the headquarters of his company, which was supposed to turn Sonoma into Hollywood North. He started work on a proposed series of silent comedies, but, after cashing a bad check, he decamped to Montana. Evading extradition to California, he was instead arrested and tried in Montana for a similar scheme. After serving time in Montana, he went on to have a long career in Hollywood including directing Cab Calloway in “Hi De Ho” in 1947. The film Binney shot before his departure is an important historical archive of Sonoma Valley. (More to come on Mr. Binney.)

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Now the parking lot of Mary’s Pizza

The intrigue continued in 1924 when a Mrs. Soito filed a slander suit against Mr. and Mrs. Harry Smith, who were the caretakers at Coney Island at the time.

“A rift in the lute (?!sic!) of this year’s Boyes Springs Carnival when rivalry in the queen contest broke up the committees and led to open warfare between the contestants…” a scenario worthy of Christopher Guest. (and what does “a rift in the lute” mean?)

“Mrs. Soito, who is the mother of Harriet Hunt, one of the pretty little girls who was out for queen, alleges in a complaint filed at Santa Rosa, that Mrs. Smith, mother of the dancer and the May-pole queen defamed her in a conversation to which there were witnesses.”

Originally Mrs. Smith was charged with disturbing the peace for a dustup at Flowery School. She pled guilty and received a suspended sentence. The Smith’s were said to be “experienced show people.” And Mrs. Soito “a member of a prominent family of Contra Costs county.”

In 1924, the Sonoma Valley Athletic Club was promoting boxing matches in the Pavillion.

In 1925 there were dances under the auspices of local bigshot Louis Parente.

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Apparently Parente gave up on the resort soon after.

The annex to the pavilion burned in 1927, and in 1928 the pavilion itself was destroyed by fire, “and now only ashes tell the tale of the venture of a San Franciso tailor went into and failed,” the Index Tribune said. (Baron was one of several tailors, most of then Viennese, who came to the valley from the City to pursue their trades and other businesses. See the post https://springsmuseum.org/2019/05/27/leixner-nimpfer-weghofer/

The IT also tells us “The Coney Island site has been one with a history of ill luck. Twenty years ago (1909) a beautiful massive structure, known as Marble Hall, was put up there, and it mysteriously burned shortly after construction. The marble pillars stood for many years, a monument of the enterprise that went up in smoke.” The pillars can be seen in the photograph of the Binney studio, and several can still be found a sites around the valley.

By 1931 the Baron tract had been subdivided into building lots and houses were constructed.

And there our story ends, pending new finds.

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Collage 32 H from the Valley of the Moon Main Stem Project, Michael Acker artist. Dimensions approx 45″x14″

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

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Uncategorized

Springs Museum: Statement on Racial Justice

James Baldwin, in his essay “Fifth Avenue Uptown: A Letter From Harlem,” 1960, said “It is a terrible, an inexorable, law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own: in the face of one’s victim, one sees oneself.”

And, in “East River, Downtown: Postscript to a Letter From Harlem,” 1961, “What is demanded now, and at once, is not that Negroes continue to adjust themselves to the cruel racial pressures of life in the United States but that the United States readjust itself to the facts of life in the present world.”

Now, and At Once. In 1961. Sixty-nine years ago. Ninety-six years after the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment.

In 2020 we have new hope that a real movement for change has begun. It is the responsibility of white people to change themselves and our society. We, the Springs Museum along with many others, are in the process of becoming better educated about racism, white privilege, and white supremacy. Education and action must proceed together. We humbly expect to discover, in the coming months and years, what that can mean.

 

 

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Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, Photographs, Resorts, Springs Historic Photo Database

New to the Springs Historic Photo Database

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1916. Gaslights possibly converted to electricity, which came in in 1913.

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Date unknown. The pool was covered in the 1950s.

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1914. The viewer is standing approximately where the parking lot behind the post office is now. The red building on the right is Graham’s Store, the location of the first post office in Boyes.

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18340 sonoma Highway. burned down in 1979. See the post “The Greengrass Bldg.”

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Entertainment, History, mid-century, People, Sports

May 28, 1959

This day, sixty one years ago. Eighteen pages in the issue. What happened that day? Things small and large, meaningful and trivial. Presented with just a few comments and notes.

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Valley Mourns Oscar Larson-See page 14 for an editorial appreciation of this important figure in mid-twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs.

Incorporation, Bank sought at Boyes –“’A committee to form a committee’” to work for incorporation of Boyes Hot Springs as a full-fledged city, was appointed Tuesday at noon meeting of the Boyes Hot Springs Merchants Association, held at Sonoma Mission Inn.” Zan Stark Jr., Harry Phinney and Milton Greger were appointed to “establish a “citizens committee” to “sell” the incorporation plan in the area.”

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More about Oscar Larson. Dr. Ronald Scott fished in Oregon. Big News! (Oregon keeps coming up in this issue.)

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You could get a permit to burn things.

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“Never used anything like it,” say users of Berlou mothspray, odorless, stainless, and guaranteed to stop moths for five whole years. Simmons Pharmacy, WE 8-2039.

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“Bob Fouts, sportscaster for the San Francisco 49ers and other athletic events of both radio and television, plans to spend the summer in the Valley of the Moon, the Index Tribune learned this week. Fouts, his wife and five children will reside in the Bel Aire development near the Sonoma golf Course, where they will temporarily rent a home during the summer months.” Just a few years later, Dan Fouts would be starring at quarterback for the University of Oregon, which is mentioned page 17.

Page 6

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Mary’s opens!

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Merchants meeting continued:

“Help from an outside source in the merchants’ fight to retain the identity of the Boyes Hot Springs Post office came at the meeting when Harry Kay of Santa Rosa, member of the State and County Democratic Central committee pledged his aid.”

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“The El Verano Improvement club members will meet on June 12 at the clubhouse on Riverside Drive.”

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“Key figures in Valley of the Moon Little League…Gene Morreton, August Sebastiani, J. Bettencourt, C.M. Marsh, Carl Ellason, Betty Thomas, Thelma Ashley, Paul Marcucci Sr., Bud Butts…”

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New Safeway Store to be Discussed By City Planners”, “No Setting Aside of Prunes This Year.

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Mario Ciampi is recognized in Life Magazine for design of Sassarini Elementary School.

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Oscar Larson remembered. A letter to the editor about Valley Unification.

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Justin Murray Combo at the Palms Inn!

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“Dr. and Mrs. Michael Mikita of Sobre Vista returned home recently after spending five days in Eugene, Oregon, visiting their son, Michael who is a freshman at the University of Oregon.”

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Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

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