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/)
He built several buildings in Boyes, including the Woodleaf Store, which was constructed in 1921 and rebuilt after the 1923 fire.
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 two story became the Casa Blanca Apartments, by which name it is still known today (2022).
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.
The United States Postal Service does not deliver mail to many houses in Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and El Verano, so people put mailboxes out on the street. Over time, these boxes, singly and in groups, take on personalities.
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 Societyfor 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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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 newest Sonoma Valley Grange will be inviting the community to become members, volunteers, and officers, very soon. Stay tuned!
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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?
Index Tribune and photographs courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
These images are from the Robert Parmelee collection, courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
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.
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.
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.
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 garden is getting noticed on social media, probably because it’s close to a popular restaurant, and it’s so great!
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.
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.)
“Filterra is an engineered high-performance bioretention
system.” What is a bioretention system? Read on.
How does Filterra work? Again, from the brochure:
“Stormwater enters the Filterra through a pipe, curb inlet, or sheet flow and ponds over the pretreatment mulch layer,
capturing heavy sediment and debris. Organics and microorganisms within the mulch trap and degrade metals and
hydrocarbons. The mulch also provides water retention for the system’s vegetation.
2. Stormwater flows through engineered Filterra media which filters fine pollutants and nutrients. Organic material in the
media removes dissolved metals and acts as a food source for root-zone microorganisms. Treated water exits through an
underdrain pipe or infiltrates (if designed accordingly).
3. Rootzone microorganisms digest and transform pollutants into forms easily absorbed by plants.
4. Plant roots absorb stormwater and pollutants that were transformed by microorganisms, regenerating the media’s
pollutant removal capacity. The roots grow, provide a hospitable environment for the rootzone microorganisms and
penetrate the media, maintaining hydraulic conductivity.
5. The plant trunk and foliage utilize nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus for plant health, sequester heavy metals into
the biomass, and provide evapotranspiration of residual water within the system.”
They filter out contaminants in storm water using plants, soil, and microorganisms. Clear?
Page one of the Storm Water Treatment Plan of the Highway 12 Redevelopment project for sidewalks and streetlights. Dated 9/30/08. The table lists eight Filterra units. This is for the first phase of the project. When the entire project was done, there were twenty-one.
Page two shows the units near Thompson St. the drawing shows two units at the parking lot. Only one was installed.
There were two problems from the start: the trees were not watered, or not watered enough, in the months after they were planted, and they were repeatedly vandalized. Well, three problems actually. Some of the units were installed in sidewalks so narrow that you couldn’t easily push a baby carriage around them or walk two-abreast around them. This is particularly glaring on the west side of the bridge over Pequeno Creek.
From the “Common Issues” section of the brochure:
“the most apparent sign of an issue with a Filterra is dead vegetation. A dead tree will not absorb any pollutants through its roots. If you notice any of these issues occurring in your system, or if you have recently installed a unit that needs maintenance, it’s time to call AQUALIS. Our maintenance and repair teams will ensure that your Filterra units are regularly inspected and operating at peak efficiency,” and
“Typically, using vegetation that naturally grows in the area is the best option, and there are specific plants required by the manufacturer. If you notice that the plant in your system is dying, it may be because the wrong type of vegetation is being used.” What species were used? I know one of the units contains nandina domestica, a decidedly non-native plant that has toxic berries and is considered invasive in some places in the U.S.
Current conditions of the plants in the Filterra units: 12 alive, 5 vandalized but still alive, 4 completely missing.
In 2021 your correspondent had this exchange with Supervisor Gorin’s office about maintenance along the highway.
My original question:
Can you tell me who has responsibility for the areas between the sidewalks and the building along the highway in the Springs? These areas are always full of weeds and look terrible. A Caltrans worker told me the County was responsible per an agreement. At any rate, nobody is paying attention to them. Also those “Filterra” trees need attention. Thanks!, Mike
Below the response from TPW:
…the trees in the filterra bioswales in the sidewalk are the responsibility of the county. Evidently, these trees have been repeatedly destroyed/broken by the public. Anything behind the sidewalk is the responsibility of each property owner. This means that the property owners are responsible for the grass strips noted below. Thanks!
On behalf of Supervisor Gorin thank you reaching out and bringing this matter to our attention. We also thank you for providing a clear description and picture.
Your email was shared with our Caltrans contacts as well as Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works. I am including Arielle Kubu-Jones and Hannah Whitman from our office for follow up, as I will be out of the office for a week starting Tuesday.
My answer: Thanks for your reply Karina. That the areas in question are the responsibility of the property owners does not square with the fact that Caltrans cleaned up a large strip in Agua Client a few months ago. At the time, the worker told me it was really the county’s responsibility, but they were doing it. However, if it really is the responsibility of the property owners, how can the County help inform and coordinate efforts at clean up and beatification? Whoever has the legal responsibility, it’s a community matter that effects us all. We fought long and hard for the sidewalks and street lights and are happy to have them, but these eyesore diminish that positive impact. Below is an example of the cleanup Caltrans did in July. (Image)
Actually, Caltrans was cleaning up the sidewalk of debris that has fallen from the private property along side. But my comment about this being a community matter, no matter who is responsible for what, stands. The County should lead on this, as on many other matters on which they are hands–off.