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.
The history of railroads in Sonoma Valley is complicated and confusing. It started in the 1860s and included at least 15 different companies, but by 1889 there we just two: the Santa Rosa and North Pacific, and the Northern Railway. The SR and NP became the Northwestern Pacific in 1907, and Southern Pacific subsumed the Northern in 1898. The NWP tracks were on the east side of Sonoma Creek, with a depot in Boyes Hot Springs, and SP on the west, stopping at El Verano. The old rights-of-way can be glimpsed in some places. Sierra Drive in Boyes is one location. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/03/29/sierra-drive-meincke-road/
A precursor to the NWP, the Sonoma Valley Railroad, existed until 1889. In this schedule we see that it visited a stop called Pioneer Grove. This was the name used before Boyes Springs was used.
The railroads served the populace of San Francisco, primarily, who wished to spend warm summer days at the resorts. They came in their thousands by rail. But as early as 1920, the railroads were challenged by bus lines and automobiles. (The “auto-camp,” precursor to the motel, originated in the 1920s.) The Index Tribune reported in 1921 that executives of the NWP were considering new, modern electric cars on the Santa Rosa-San Rafael line to counter the competition from buses. To no avail. In 1930, the Glen Ellen depot was eliminated.
The editorial comment in the IT was prophetic. Rail service was gone by 1942.
Following is a collection of images of depots in Sonoma Valley, with some maps, which are courtesy of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
Southern Pacific depots:
Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
This is the key historic building still standing in Agua Caliente. Apparently undergoing demolition-by-neglect, it has, in August 2018, gotten a set of new windows and a paint job. We can only hope that the structure behind the stucco still has integrity.
In the days of Liexner’s Resort.