Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, Jewish History, Now and Then

Cabanot’s French Resort/the Casa Blanca Apartments

Bernard Cabanot was born in France in 1861 and came to the US in 1876. He lived and worked in San Francisco and Redwood City until 1914, when he came to Boyes Hot Springs and opened his French Resort. (There was another French Resort operated by the Dutil , Lounibos and Verdier families in El Verano. Please see: https://springsmuseum.org/2020/12/13/dutil-french-cottages-verdiers/)

“One block from the Northwestern Pacific station and the post office,” refers to the P.O. located at the Woodleaf Store.

He built several buildings in Boyes, including the Woodleaf Store, which was constructed in 1921 and rebuilt after the 1923 fire.

Woodleaf Store, Boyes Blvd. and Sonoma Highway, 1930s. This building still stands, part of the Sonoma Mission Inn.

We have images of two different buildings for the resort. The oldest ones are of pleasant one-story bungalows, dated 1919 (first two images). The second building is two stories and dates from 1925 (above).

According to the Index Tribune, Cabanot’s Resort was not destroyed by the great fire of 1923 so it’s possible the larger building was built along side of the smaller ones. Both places are described in ads as being “next to the theater,” which was at the corner of Boyes Blvd. and Gregor Street, where the apartment building is today.

The original Cabanot’s?
Index Tribune

The two story became the Casa Blanca Apartments, by which name it is still known today (2022).

Circa 1950

San Francisco Jewish Community Bulletin-https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92060578/
Index Tribune
2007

As of September 2022, major repairs were taking place. All the exterior siding was removed, plywood was applied as earthquake bracing, and new doors and window were being fitted. Not historic preservation but perseverance. With several nearby historic buildings being bulldozed recently, we will take what we can get.


Thanks to Lorrie Baetge Fulton of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society for research help, and to the Gordon Lindberg Collection of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, who also provided the Index Tribune material.

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Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, Now and Then, Photographs, Resorts, Wonders and Marvels

“Picturing the Springs”-an exhibit at the Depot Park Museum in Sonoma

Opening September 10, 2022

In a sense, this exhibit is a follow-up to Michael Acker’s book “The Springs, Resort Towns of Sonoma Valley,” (Arcadia Publishing, 2017) with many more photographs and ephemera, and in color. Here is a small preview.





Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society for assistance, especially Lorrie Baetge Fulton, Patricia Cullinan, Kate Shertz, Peter Meyerhoff, Roy Tennant, and Lynn Downey, and for images, and access to the Index Tribune archive.

Thanks also to the many community members who have shared their memories and photographs with the author.

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Boyes Hot Springs, mid-century, People

The Valley of the Moon Review

The weekly Valley of the Moon Review was founded in Boyes Hot Springs in 1946 by Colonel E.A. Little. Zan Stark and his son, A.J. Stark Jr., bought the paper in 1953. They turned it into a daily in 1958. The paper ceased publication in 1961. Zan Sr. was a well known publisher of “real picture post cards” of Northern California scenes. He died in Sonoma in 1977. As noted in the article about the history of the paper, their offices and printing plant were on Sonoma Highway, “across from Calle del Monte.”

The office of the Valley of the Moon Review is at left. This photo was taken by Zan’s partner Ed Wood.

Copies of the paper are scarce. The Sonoma Historical Society recently came into possession of a few of them. Among them, very fortunately, was the front page of the last edition of the weekly paper before it changed to a daily. It is signed, with an inscription, by Zan Stark Jr. who was publisher and editor.

The daily paper covered national news as well as local. Many stories from United Press International may reflect Zan Jr.’s eventual employment by them. He later became the bureau chief of UPI in Portland, Oregon.

Stay tuned for more from this trove of Boyes Hot Springs history!

Newspaper images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

Post card image courtesy of Stanford University Library, Special Collections

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Agua Caliente, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Wonders and Marvels

Neighborhood Phenomena: Plants

Observed within a few blocks of each other, two volunteers and a planting. The first one is a small agave planted in a hole in the sidewalk. A valiant effort indeed. Given Caltrans and/or Sonoma County’s neglect of these areas, it may survive a while. The second one looks like volunteer tomatoes springing up at a storm drain. I hope that’s what they are! Third is a humble little California poppy growing in a crack between the curb and sidewalk. Symbolic of California today?

Bonus photo: Tiny calendula in the asphalt, Arroyo Rd., BHS
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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Jewish History, Photographs

The Sonoma Valley Grange, Tradition,Change and Renewal

The Sonoma Valley Grange was chartered in 1924. Grange members were able to buy buy their own hall, from Selig Rosenthal of Rosenthal’s Resort, in 1934. Speculation has it the building, located on Hwy 12 adjacent to the Acacia Grove mobile home park, had been a dance hall, possibly a speak-easy during Prohibition. (Please click the link to read more about Rosenthal.)

The Grange prospered and the building was added on to. Events such as a semiannual flea market, pancake breakfast, and Christmas parties were popular. The Grange participated in the institution’s traditional lobbying of elected officials in favor of farmers and community wellbeing in general. Women were prominent in the leadership, serving as presidents, secretaries, and treasurers. Eunice Peterson, a charter member and past master (president) of the Sonoma Valley Grange, was  the first woman to serve on the Sonoma-Marin Fair board in 1940 and 1941 and ran for state assembly in 1938.

The Grange was incorporated in 1948.

2008
Grange old timers Edith Lanning, Arvilla McAllister, and Marianne Erickson, 2005

Younger folks did join in the early 2000s, starting a strong period of growth for the Grange.

The old Hall needed a lot of work. In 2016 donations were in hand to start building new restrooms and a new, commercial kitchen.

The old kitchen, 2010. The dinner bell was made from a brake drum.

Political and legal turmoil starting in 2012 forced some major changes and challenges, leading to the formation of a new entity, The Springs Community Hall.

After more years of legal wrangling between the State Grange and the National Grange, then the State Grange and the local, former Granges, it’s been decided that the hall will again be an official Grange. Not much has really changed. Whatever its name the hall and the volunteers who run it are committed to serving their community, as always.

The old and young, 2004-2010
Implements of old-time Grange ritual, now of historic interest.
The late Edith King, our long-time pancake breakfast cashier, and Wendy Loots, a top volunteer for many years, 2012

The newest Sonoma Valley Grange will be inviting the community to become members, volunteers, and officers, very soon. Stay tuned!

As it looks in 2022
The “Patrons of Husbandry”
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Architecture, Art, Boyes Hot Springs, People, Wonders and Marvels

El Molino Central (updates below)

The fortunes of Boyes Hot Springs have waxed and waned. In the heyday of the resorts, it was a prosperous summer retreat. As the resorts declined, property values fell, and Boyes became “the other side of the tracks,” for a time gaining a reputation for being dangerous. The story goes that the State of California released parolees there because rents were so low, but in 1988 Sheriff Dick Michaelson told the Index Tribune “the practice ceased a couple of years ago.” When yours truly move there in 1997, the rumor was alive and well.

2007, Google Street View
2009, Street View. The Barking Dog moved in 2004. here it sits empty.

In that year (1988) things were looking up for Boyes. Young people form San Francisco were discovering that they could afford to buy houses there. New businesses were opening, such as the Central Laundromat at the corner of Highway 12 and Central Avenue. But wane followed wax once again and the laundromat went out of business and the building stayed empty until the Barking Dog Roasters opened there in 1995. According to the Index Tribune, “ A building once held up as a bad example has received new life-and a major renovation…Barking Dog Roasters at 17999 Sonoma Highway was formerly the Central Laundromat-once pictured in this newspaper as an example of the problems along Highway 12 through Boyes Hot Springs. The new restaurant opened in mid-June, after a six-month renovation that involved new wiring, plumbing, flooring, interior plaster, and outside stucco….’It has been a real labor of love,’ Peter Hodgson (one of the owners) said.”

2008

“The Dog,” as we know it, moved to its present location on the corner of Vallejo in 2004. The original building then went into another decline, sitting empty until Karen Waikiki commenced her grand transformation of the structure into El Molino Central, which opened in 2010.

Kathleen Hill wrote in that year, “When asked how she chose the name, Waikiki told us that every town in Mexico used to have a “Molino” where people took their dried corn to have it ground into masa, a very important and essential function.”

Update: El Molino under construction 2010
2010

El Molino has been a huge success, even being declared the best Mexican restaurant in the Bay Area at one point. It continues to be packed with hungry people from all over the Bay Area and probably the world, given the restaurant’s proximity to the Sonoma Mission Inn.

Karen not only transformed the building brilliantly, but continues to embellish it seasonally with the work of artist Mark Marthaler (https://www.facebook.com/mark.marthaler.3/about)

2021
2016
2021
2022
2022
UPDATE: More recent photos of the flowers, courtesy of Mark, showing the leaves.
UPDATE: More recent photos of the flowers, courtesy of Mark, showing the leaves.
Art by Michael Acker

Sonoma Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

Photographs by the author and Mark Marthaler

copyright 2022

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, People, Photographs

El Mirador-the Boyes Residence

update below

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.

The Mirador property was bounded by the present day streets Central Avenue, Vallejo Avenue, and Calle del Monte

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?

Photo by author, 2022.

Index Tribune and photographs courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

UPDATE:

These images are from the Robert Parmelee collection, courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

Capt. Boyes, at Mirador, perhaps, with a pet. A cat perhaps?
Map from an abstract of title, which was a legal document tracing ownership of land that was used before title searches were possible. It seems to show Boyes’ parcel where El Mirador was located, stating that it was 25 acres. the abstract is dated 1909. Notice that in that year, Agua Caliente was considered a town, Boyes Hot Springs just a resort encompassing a small(ish) piece of land.
Cover of the somewhat lengthy abstract.

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Boyes Hot Springs, Neighborhood Phenomena, People, Wonders and Marvels

Tony Perez and His Garden

March 2019. Bonita Way comes into Central here, hence Street View’s address.

November 2019

Sometime between March and November of 2019, Tony started constructing his installation of flowerpots, plants, garden ornaments, lumber, and concrete blocks on the side of the street in front of 67 Central Avenue in Boyes Hot Springs. I originally assumed his name was Richard because of the sign he posted in 2021. The sign, which is not up currently, is a bit puzzling, but I’m glad he gave himself credit, no matter what name he used.

November 2019

Tony was born in Nayarit state, Mexico and came to the U.S. 50 or 60 years ago (he’s a bit vague on this). He has worked as a landscaper his whole life. “I know how to take care of plants,” he told me.

Joanie Bourg via Facebook:

“He used to come into Sonoma Mission Gardens where I worked for many years.. order plants or buy soil. The thing that struck me about Tony was his super boisterous laugh and spirit, and he obviously worked hard as a gardener.. I would see his truck everywhere. He’s a larger than life dude. I’m also a gardener by profession, so I know just how hard the work is. I love his fighting spirit.”

He has worked at that trade until he got sick. “The doctors took my money, and I’m still sick,” he said.  He will go back to Mexico when it’s “time for the ‘cementary’,” he joked. He usually walks with two canes, which he made himself, because he doesn’t like the store-bought ones.

November 2020
November 2020. The object with the four “tines” is made from ceiling fan blades.

Tony has lived in the apartments next door to his garden for five or six years.

His garden evolves with the seasons. He grows geraniums and plants annual flowers in season. He also uses artificial flowers. Periodically he paints the pots a new color.

November 2021
November 2021

Tony drives a Ford work truck. I find it charming that he has replaced the Ford logotype on the tailgate with stick-on lettering, which is slightly askew. It’s a very competent looking truck.

Tony’s Ford, 2021

Tony’s garden is getting noticed on social media, probably because it’s close to a popular restaurant, and it’s so great!

From the Instagram of Charles DesMarais, former art critic for the S.F. Chronicle
March 2022. Building back up (“better?”) Tony had winterized for 2021-2022.
March 2022
Tony with his custom-made cane.

Thank you Tony Perez for your gift to our neighborhood!

This post will be updated as Tony’s Garden evolves.

June, July, and August 2022. Tony is bringing a lot of tools and material out of storage to sell.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names, Resorts

Historic Walking Tour of Central Boyes Hot Springs

Walking Tour Map. The tour is centered on the “Hotel Grounds” subdivision, which contains the site of the original resort and the present Sonoma Mission Inn.

Some day we will organize actual tour groups to take this walk. In the mean time, there is the map and a book of the tour. Please see https://mca-studios.com/recent-work/ for each page of the book and a short video. (Click on the page images to magnify.)

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