Martin Leixner started a tailoring business in Sonoma in 1919. He was among a group of Viennese immigrants to settle the area. In 1923 he joined with another Viennese tailor, Herman Weghofer, to enlarge the business, which was located “in Fetters Springs, on the Highway, opposite the Hotel.”
In 1924, Leixner took on another partner, a Mr. Nimpfer, and another business, that of chauffer. The next year we read in the Index Tribune that “Mrs. Putnam, two children, maid and chauffer of Commonwealth Avenue, San Francisco, spent the last week end at Leixner’s Resort, one of the attractive places of the Springs. Mr. Leixner has utilized the rocky formation of the hillside where his resort is situated for rustic stone stairways, and made it otherwise very artistic.” This is undoubtedly the same site at which his tailoring business was located. At some point, Mr. Nimpher’s name appears on the resort in place of Leixner’s.
Herman Weghofer went on to open his Vienna Coffee Garden just a few hundred feet south of there, a few years later.
On Friday, September 10, 1937, the Index Tribune tells us, a large group of tailors “visited their friend, Herman Weghofer, at Vienna Gardens, in Fetters Springs… This was a veritable tailor’s convention and Mr. Weghofer, who formerly tailored for the City of Paris, was very happy.”
Index Tribune, January 1, 1954-“Death Claims Mrs. R. Nimpfer, Long Time Resident of Fetters”…..She and her husband, Gottfried, who survives her, were proprietors of a Sonoma bakery form 1924 to 1929. The later became proprietors of a grocery store and resort directly opposite the Fetters Hot Springs Hotel, which they operated for nearly 20 years, until selling to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Roy (Rohr, actually).”
In 1945Leixner and Nimpfer “branch” out.
At some point the grocery was renamed Roy’s.
Fire at Roy’s Grocery, 1970 (Index Tribune photos courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society)
In later years the buildings housed various restaurants. In 2019 a photo posted on the Facebook group “You know you’re from Sonoma when..” elicited some memories:
The building on the left that has the “Grocery” sign on the front eventually became my mother-in-law’s Mexican restaurant, Mi Tienda. (see photos above.)
Oak Tree Cantina! Mmmmm!
We use to dine on the roof and watch Juanita throw people out of her establishment!
The big one with the garage, my dad and mom leased for 5 years, it was a bar called Ev’s Stop. Lots of good times there, early 60s I think.
I spend a lot of time in Roy’s grocery watching my mom and dad play cards in the back of the the store and sometimes I would go upstairs and watch TV. And if I got bored I would walk home I lived on Hillside Ave.
Yeah we got on that roof also. So cool to have a birds eye view. Great just to hang out there.
Was that in the area of Roy’s Sharon and Shorty rented there when Brian was born.
Roy’s was the building with the two shutters sticking out.
Loved the Oak Tree!
I worked at the Oak Tree in the 80s…I miss that place!
Before Oaktree it was the Hashery.
After. It was the Oaktree first then the Hashery.
What a great memory, the Greyhound. Doesn’t look like it changed much from the 30s to the 70s.
About my first sight of these buildings: Long before I moved there (from San Francisco) I happened to take a drive down Highway 12 from Calistoga Rd. to the town of Sonoma. The setting, these buildings, and the place names, Agua Caliente, Fetters Hot Springs, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, immediately and permanently enthralled me. I remain enthralled.
All photos by author or from his collection, except where noted. Newspaper clippings courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
In June of 1945, Bob and Edith Lanning were granted a license to sell alcoholic beverages at their B&E Café in Boyes Hot Springs. By 1949 they had changed the name to The Resort Club.
Bob Lanning was also a photographer. Many of his photos appeared in the pages of the Index Tribune.
Bob was elected to the board of the Valley of the Moon Water district in the 1960s, but his activity on water issues started earlier.
Edith was active in the Sonoma Valley Grange for decades.
In 1965 the Lannings sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Leonard F. Bruhn. After selling the club, Bob opened Bob’s Fixit Shop in building on the same property.
In 1969, Pete Mancuso took over and opened his Melody Club.
Pete retired in 1983. He sold the club to Doug Graham, but it didn’t last long after that. Lanning Construction moved in in 1984.
“In 1984 Lanning Structures (Dean Lanning) converted the Melody Club into offices a while after Pete closed. Lanning Structures closed in 1996 and Steve Lanning Construction took over the offices. Both metal buildiing contractors, Father and Son.” Winnie Lanning (married to Dean Lanning), 2019, via email.
Dean Lanning died in 2006.
Bob Lanning died in 1995, Edith in 2013.
Lanning Structures, 2001, 2008, and 2009.
After the demolition, 2019.
Index Tribune and Grange photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Other photos by author and from author’s collection.
A fiesta on Mothers Day, 2019:Mariachi in Boyes Hot Springs. https://youtu.be/fUv7VsVHFw4
With thanks to artist Jack Baker
One of the main objects of the Springs Museum is the study of Neighborhood Phenomena.
Perhaps not to define it to precisely is best. However, we can say that NP may be exceptional things or mundane things seen in an exceptional way. Collecting (and it is an exercise in collecting) NP is an act of noticing, something that it is all to easy not to do in an environment that is so familiar as we pass through it daily.
Photography is a good mode for collecting NP, as is sketching, sound recording, rubbings, or actually picking up objects (but try not to disturb the environment. Observers should limit their impact on the world being observed.) Study over time is of interest, so repeated visits to sites are encouraged.
Here is a list of some of the possible categories to look at.
How trees and built environment interact
Signs. What they say, how they change.
Pavement and how is deteriorates.
Plants in all their many different forms
Animals among us, including pets
Infrastructure such as wires, drains, etc.
Design-everything built is designed, if only by default
Holes in the ground
Mounds of things
Further Inspiration: Artists as collectors. Collections as art:
“The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”
“Including those items is part of the museum’s effort at redefinition, although the curators were drawing on an eccentric set of collections that were never really part of the natural history tradition. The facade of the building still bears its original title: Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum. In fact, the art collection became the heart of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s, when the “natural history” title was adopted.”
“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014
“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”
“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now…”
“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”
Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard
The collection, and, by extension, the museum is a work of art:
“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village website. http://www.bottlevillage.com/
courtesy of CalPhotos, https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/