After the main building burned in 2013, the Press Democrat reported, “The resort was built in 1908 at the El Verano rail station 20 years after the Santa Rosa-Carquinez Railroad opened the way for visitors from San Francisco and elsewhere,”. Actually, the location was the Verano rail station. The El Verano depot was across Sonoma Creek. Two competing railroads served the valley at that time. (See map), the Northwest Pacific and the Southern Pacific.
As there were two depots with the word Verano in their names, so there were two Pauls.; Paul Vannuchi founded the resort in 1908. Paul Marcuchi bought it in 1944.
As was common, Paul Vannuchi ran afoul of Prohibition laws. In 1920 he was accussed of conspiracy. At the time, he was also the propietor, with one J. Foppiano, of a roadhouse near San Bruno.
In 2016 we sat down with Eve Marcucci and her daughter Yvonne Marcucci Thibault to record some of their memories. As we talked, we paged through one of the many scrapbooks Eve kept of the resort and Paul’s career.
Paul’s father, Paul Sr. (“your host” according to the flyer) was also a musician; he played the mandolin. The Marcuccis emigrated from Lucca, Italy around 1900. One branch of the family went to Argentina. We see some photos of them in the scrap book. Paul left home in Ohio at the age of sixteen with a band he formed. They toured the country backing a female impersonator who was popular at the time. Drag shows were a staple of the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s and 1930s.
According to Eve and Yvonne, Paul’s Resort was place of laughter and good times, and the leader and instigator of the fun was Paul.
Paul and his pals, including Pete Mancuso, sang, played and performed skits in the dining room of the resort, where there was a stage.
Paul played electric organ and the trumpet at the same time. Some times the revelries were broadcast on radio from that stage on station KVON. Yvonne recalls that, as a child, her parents would put her on a bar stool, so they always knew where she was.
Paul certainly was a man of many talents. According to Eve, “Dad built the pool. He became a licensed contractor to get work done on the resort faster.” He was also a well known music teacher who worked for the public schools and taught privately. During WW2 he served in the Navy as a musician, and wrote the patriotic songs “Remember Pearl Harbor” and “Win the War in 44.” His coauthor on the former was Aub Brandon of Santa Rosa. According to the Healdsburg Tribune, the song was written in one hour. It was released on December 18, 1941, just twelve days after the cataclysmic Japanese bombing raid.
On top of all that, he became the manager of a young singer from Marin County by the name of Clairette Clemintino. Paul’s daughter Yvonne remembers trips to Los Angeles with her dad and Clairette, for recording sessions and publicity events. The scrap books contain photos of Yvonne with the likes of Danny Thomas, Chubby Checker and Shelly Fabre. Clairette’s career is documented at the website www.girlgroups.com.
Paul died in 1981
In the 1980s the main building of the resort became a Moose Lodge.
In the 1984 Historic Property Survey Report, prepared by architect Dan Peterson for the Redevelopment Agency, the resort is listed as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
As mentioned above, the main building burned in 2013, much to the dismay of the Marcucci family and a community that continues to have warm memories of the resort.
More images from Paul’s Resort:
All photos courtesy of the Marcucci family.
Sonoma Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
Woodleaf Park is the name of one of the many subdivisions platted in the Springs around 1910.
In August of 1921, the Index Tribune helpfully stated “The attention of our readers is called to the ad of the Woodleaf Grocery Store at Boyes Springs. This store in the Cabanot block is conducted by Mrs. Lovett and is giving excellent service to residents in and about the Springs.” (Notice a 1921 use of the term “the Springs.”) The Cabanot Block was at the corner of the State Highway and Boyes Blvd.
In September of 1923, most of Boyes Springs was destroyed by fire.
But, by early 1924, rebuilding had begun. Mr. Cabanot hired builder M. Y. Hansen to construct the new Woodleaf Store, on the site of the old structure.
In March of 1924, “It is reported (by the IT) that B. Cabanot, pioneer property owner and resort keeper of Boyes Springs, has sold out to E. Peters of San Francisco. Mr. Cabanot was one the first to show his faith in Boyes Springs real estate. He recently bought and improved a business block near the N. W. P. station which is now tenanted by store keepers.” It is assumed that this refers to Cabanot selling his resort, which was also near the railroad station.
Marion Greene was a community leader. In 1939 she was president of the Sonoma County Retail Grocer’s Association. She operated the Woodleaf Store from 1921 to 1949.
Greene sold the store (not the building, which she did not own) to George Riccomi, a member of the Cabanot family, in 1951, and he installed a modern soda fountain and a horse-shoe counter in a “brilliant formica yellow design,” and chartreuse (!) leather upholstery, according the Index Tribune.
The interior was remodeled by architect Hugh Duffy and became the Big Three Market in 1959. The sign was modified to read “Big Three” at the top. Later, perhaps in the 1970s, the bottom portion was removed entirely. (Duffy was also the architect of the Plaza Center building and the Boyes Food Center.)
In 1980, the Sonoma Mission Inn Corporation, under Edward Safdie, bought the building and continued operation of the store and soda fountain. A later iteration of the Inn converted the store into a café. In 2016, the Fairmount Corporation closed the café permanently. Future plans for the site are unknown.
A recent posting on Facebook of a photograph of the Big Three elicited over 60 comments. Below are some samples.
I used to catch the Greyhound bus there in the mid 60s.
The Greyhound bus stopped there. You bought your ticket inside. Rose and I rode the Greyhound to San Francisco for a day. Met Burt and Walker. Our Mom’s didn’t know. Fun!
It was the Woodleaf and then the Big 3, my mother waitressed there when I was a kid. I would hang out readiing comics and wait for her to get off work, occasionally…great shakes, too!
Not many remember the lumber yard in the background. Diamond Lumber.
I remember those big swinging doors . … I think they got to be to dangerous. They blocked them off later and put the magazine rack in front of them.
I remember buying my first comic book there for $0.10. Around 1967.
And riding a pony ride they had out front.
I lived on Highland & Monterey area.
We had a ritual when I lived on 4th and Thompson, Frank’s trading post, swim at the Bath House, a quick Matinee at the Boyes Theatre, Big 3 for a new Comic and finally BHS Food Center during the warm months. Great time to live there.
I can still smell it and see the broken tiles in the sloped entrance
There were 3 owners- hence the name.
The fountain was where the men around met for coffee and to lie to each other in the morning.
I remember Polidori’s 5 & Dime across the street on the corner, maybe before the post office was there? I think he was the postmaster for awhile. Ate at Big 3 many times, mom shopped there often, we would buy $.05 donuts there, caught the bus there many times, and played in the abandoned lumber yard next door (across from Gallo’s) often
Toad stool was still there so had to be in the late 60’s or early 70’s
We locals were known as “toads”
Creaky wood floors
Lyle Tuttle’s tattoo shop was next to the bus station. Sketchy area.
All images are from the author’s collection or courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.