Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Uncategorized

The Olive Grove Tract

The Olive Grove Tract: Where was it? What is the history of the trees? And where did the church go?

According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat article from 1942, “Edwin P. Thomson, who many years ago owned the site of Fetters Springs…in 1887, planted the olive grove that now borders the highway between Fetters and Boyes Springs.” In 1946, the PD tells us that “Twenty-five acres of olive grove property fronting the state highway in Boyes Hot Springs and extending down to the ballpark, will soon be made available as an exclusive business and residential subdivision…” the owners were Bill Johnson and Rudy Lichtenberg, who also owned and managed the Boyes Bath House. Both men have streets named after them in that area.

Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson at the Boyes Bath House

(Courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society)

This map, from the website 321, shows an area which they call “Olive Grove.”



This is part of an aerial photograph from 1961, with a few street names superimposed. At that time, Bokman Avenue did not exist. Bokman approximately follows the outfield fence of the Boyes Springs Ball Park, which can be seen left center of the photo.

According to an IT article from 1988, the trees covered an area of 12.5 acres at that time. The trees were bulldozed in 1988, much to the dismay of local residents. See below.

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Zan Stark photo showing olive grove behind the ball park (to the east.) Courtesy, Stanford University Library, Special Collections.

At various times, various people have made the claim that the trees in the Olive Grove tract were planted by M. G. Vallejo. This was asserted and denied in 1988 when the trees were removed. Real estate agents and B + B proprietors still use this “information.”OliveGroveTrees988

(Copy from online advertisment, below)

Property Details for 17600 Johnson Ave

This property is no longer available to rent or buy. This description is from May 03, 2010

Experience this darling 1949 Turn-Key home in the heart of the Wine Country! This meticulous 2 bedroom, 1 bath home features a spacious vintage kitchen, and a light and bright living room. The private back yard is a gardener’s delight that includes a patio, a deck and plenty of shade provided by two mighty olive trees that were once part of General Vallejo’s olive grove. Minutes from the Sonoma Plaza, restaurants and wineries.

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”The area where this home is located was once part of General Vallejo’s personal olive grove.”

As mentioned above, the remaining trees were removed in 1988.


Olive trees on DeChene Ave. in 2017. (Author’s photos) Many of the existing trees in the area seem very old. They could be survivors from Thomson’s orchard.

The Valley of the Moon Community Church.

The Valley of the Moon Community Church was located in the Olive Grove tract.



In September of 1951, the foundations were poured. Fourteen months later, “The handsome church building is slowly but surely nearing completion.” In August of 1953, the church building was in use.


This Chamber of Commerce map, courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, from the 1955 shows the VOM Community church approximately where Lichtenberg St. comes into DeChene Ave.


This is the last mention of the Church in the IT. What happened to the congregation? What happened to the church building?


Many thanks to Joanna Kolosov of the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library for information from the Press Democrat and other sources.


Regrettably, we have lost track of the name of the gentleman who loaned the 1961 aerial photograph. The photograph was provided to him by Sonoma County.

Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Uncategorized

Valley Watch Repair

Antonio Juan, who took over Johnny Mazza’s barber shop in 2017, found this clock in the back of the shop.


Valley Watch Repair was started in 1954 by George R. Trueman, who previously ran a jewelry store in Sacramento. The shop was located in the Kinucan building, at first. This building, once called the Central building, was located on the highway, on the land that now features the Sonoma Mission Inn employee parking lot. At the time Trueman moved in, part of the building was used for the Boyes Springs Variety Store, run by the Polidori family.ValleyWatch1954


In this post card photo by Zan Stark, the Variety Store is at left. The cars date the scene to 1954.ValleyWatchad1954ValleyWatchBusinessAssoc1955

George Trueman became active in the business community. In 1955 he was elected vice president of the newly formed Boyes Springs Merchants Association. President was Tom Polidori. Zan Stark and Babe Gallo were directors.

(The photo caption on the same page tells of the former A.B. Peluffo house being moved from the site of the new shopping center at the corner of the highway and Verano Avenue. Pellufo was the developer of the Plaza Center building which houses the post office in Boyes Hot Springs.)


In 1956 Trueman moved his business to the former Saul Becker real estate office adjacent to Gallo’s Service station on the east side of the highway, near Arroyo Road. (Gaye Notely left for Berkeley a few days later, as we ;earn on the same page of the Index Tribune. Much later she would become Gaye Le Baron.)iValleydrugValleyWatchMrsTruemanShop1958

Mrs. Trueman opened her yardage and clothing store next to the Valley Watch Repair, “opposite the Mission Inn entrance on Highway 12…” in 1958. ZanE47SMIEntrance

The indispensable Zan Stark provides a view of the Mission Inn entrance.

In 1961, the Truemans sold their businesses and embarked on a cross-country road trip, saying they would return to Sonoma Valley. And return they did, in 1962, and set up business in Frank’s Hardware.ValleyWatchTruyemanSell1961


Photographs courtesy of Michael Acker

Boyes Hot Springs, Entertainment, History, Uncategorized

Music at the Resorts

From earliest European settlement (and possibly before), the Valley of the Moon was a place of rest and healing, but by the late 1890’s excitement was added to the activities: show business. First and always there was music. Theater and the spectacle of the circus were also popular. Movies arrived by 1917.

The following is a sampler of the variety of music available at the resorts.



Art Hickman had been coming to Sonoma Valley since 1910. He was a newspaper man who became the leader of a popular band in San Francisco. He is sometimes credited with inventing the word “jazz,” in Boyes Hot Springs. This dubious claim is fully discussed in Bruce Vermazen’s interesting article:

Hickman’s arrival in Boyes Springs was front-page news in 1923. (No elucidation as to the nature of his accidental burns is given.)

In that year, Prohibition was in force, which did not prevent the resorts from offering refreshing beverages to their guests, to enhance their musical appreciation. As we see from the headline, the El Verano resorts were “Again Raided.”


Was Nuf Sed the name of the “Original Ragtime Orchestra…” or just an emphatic statement?


It looks like a circus troop in this photo, marching with a band. The stamp on the reverse dates the card to 1909.

Some of the musical offerings were more high-toned. A Ladies Singing Society would be very refined.1922HARMONYSOCIETYCLIP


Between 1920 and 1950 there were over a dozen ads in the IT for “Hard Times” dances. Attendees were expected to come dressed in stereotypical farmers’ clothing, and decorations leaned towards hay bales, wagon wheels, and animal harnesses. The music for this 1928 affair, held at the Boyes Springs Club House, was provided by Prof. G. Nimpfer, who was originally a tailor and had run a resort in Agua Caliente under his name. What discipline his PhD was granted in is not known.



Paul Marcucci’s “Hill billy Band” from 1933. Marcucci was a talented musician and song writer who presided over Paul’s Resort for three decades in the mid-20th century.


Unfortunately described as a “negro orchestra,” the Funmakers featured Johnny Alston and Jeanne DeMetz. Alston and DeMetz recorded extensively. To get an idea of what they might have sounded like at the Fetters Resort, listen to this recording of “Sam the Boogie Man,” 1946, from the Prelinger Archive:





Hugh Wedge and his Melody Men were active in the Valley in 1950 and 1951. Obvioulsy versatile, they played for dancing of all eras (modern and old-fashioned).


Leon Pasco’s orchestra, “from Napa,” gigged a lot in the resorts from 1948 through 1953. Hugh Wedge was also billed as from Napa. Did they really hail from there, or was that puffery to make them sound more exotic? The Funmakers were billed as “direct from many smash engagements at New York’s most elaborate NIGHT SPOTS,” which probably had some truth to it. But “from Napa?” Not very enticing.


Anson Weeks was famous as the leader of the orchestra at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the 1920s and 1930s. For more on Weeks, see

In 1969 Pete Mancuso took over the old Resort Club in the heart of Boyes Hot Springs and renamed it Little Peter’s Melody Club. The establishment was in operation until the mid 1980s.


The Melody Club sign was in place until 2014, when it was removed for safety.

Boyes Hot Springs, History, Photographs, Trees, Uncategorized

The Fairmont Employee Parking Lot

The site at the corner of Vallejo and Highway 12, now in use as the employee parking lot for the Sonoma Mission Inn, has a long history.

This postcard, post marked 1913, shows the entry arch, to Woodleaf Park (in the middle of the lot),  which was one of the early subdivisions in Boyes Hot Springs. The sign at left reads “Desirable Summer and Winter Cottages for rent. J. W. Minges.” Minges was a prominent land owner and businessman in early twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs and was often referred to as the “mayor” of Boyes Springs.



This is part of a full page ad (above) from 1925 promoting Boyes Hot Springs. It reads, in part, “In place of the frame building and barber shop that was located next to the original post Office at Boyes, the enterprising business man (Bob Liaros) let the contract for a handsome hollow-tile building with concrete floors and fireproof throughout.”

The view from the 1930s (below) shows the building mentioned above.  Lairos was another Boyes booster and long-time business owner. Beyond the Liaros building are the ice plant and Sam Agnew’s service station at Vallejo St.


Liaros sold part of his land to the proprietor of the ice plant.

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The building changed hands in 1949.LairosVarietyStorePlansJims

This article mentions that Jim’s Lunchroom is located in the building. If only we could get the Embalmers to come back! Perhaps they could “frolic?”


The above mentioned variety store, operated at one time by the Polidori family.

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The building was demolished as an eyesore in 1992. Progress!?


In 1997, a lone California Bay tree stood on the lot, but it was dying.


The merely functional parking lot in 2008.

Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Stanford University Library Special Collections, and Mr. Lloyd Cripps.



Document describing the land in Woodleaf Park that Bob Liaros bought in 1931, including the ornamental arch.



Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Photographs, Uncategorized

The Corner of Thomson Avenue and Highway 12


Thomson Avenue, not Thompson Avenue, was named for Dr. Allen Thomson, who had been physician to General Vallejo, and who married one of his granddaughters. Thomson was president of the company that developed the subdivision known as Boyes Springs Park . Thomson Street is its southern border.BHSSubDivBweb

The building at the southeast corner was a Red Crown gas station circa 1930. It later became the Ferrando’s Plumbing building and now houses La Michoacana Ice Cream and Plain Janes. It was famously made over by Rico Martin in 2015.


The caption says “Questerman/Churchill Garage.” Note the misspelling of the street name and the designation “east.”

Directly across Highway 12 from the end of Thomson (not East Thomson!) was Baker’s Drive In, established in 1957 (and open 24 hours per day!)Baker'sArticleAd In 1958 Norman Baker had big plans to build a truck stop on this property, but the county would not approve the project.BakerTruckStopweb


Looking South, Farrell’s sign at left, Baker’s Drive In at right.


Looking at Bakers’ Drive In on Hwy 12, from Thomson. Red Crown building seen at left.


Looking North

These photos from 1958, courtesy of the Sonoma County Library, were used in a court case, the nature of which is unknown, but could have been a suit over a traffic accident. In the photo of the highway looking south, a sign can be seen (below the Richfield sign) which proclaims Farrell’s Resort, which would have been on the property now partially occupied by Arroyo Vet Hospital.

In 1972, John Metallinos and family opened the Fruit Basket on Arnold Drive.


They opened their Boyes Springs branch sometime later, probably in the early 1980s, at the old Baker’s Drive In. On June 15, 1983, a fire destroyed that building.FruitBasketFireweb

Nearly a year later, the Boyes Springs Fruit Basket reopened, “in a flourish of live Greek music and dancing,” in its new building, which was designed by architect William Dimick.



The Fruit Basket in 2107. It really is a graceful building.

My thanks to Mark Maberly for information about Dr. Thomson, and his general enthusiasm for our history. As always, contributions of knowledge are welcomed. Please leave a comment.

Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Trees

The Corner of Central and Highlands

At the corner of Central and Highlands in Boyes Springs, these trees had been “influencing” the fence for many years, in a wonderful display of found sculpture. In April of 2017, big changes happened._DSC8641

The trees, which had been menacing the house’s foundation, were removed and a new fence was built._DSC8652IMG_2277 It’s sad to see trees go, but they don’t live forever, just like people.