Just like the houses, the garages of the Springs show an amazing variety.
Just like the houses, the garages of the Springs show an amazing variety.
In 2008 final construction drawings for “Phase 2 Stage 1” of the Highway 12 sidewalk project were issued. The drawings are detailed and very specific, as they would be. Everything is spelled out, down to the design of the hardware used to hold up mail boxes, sign details, and the depth of fence posts.
One thing that was not thought about is the space created, or delineated between the edge of the sidewalk and buildings, fences and walls along the highway. Formerly just part of the shoulder of the road, these unpaved spaces became the chaotic province of weeds and trash, unclaimed and untended by anybody.
This 300’ strip on the east side of the highway between Hawthorne and Thomson is a good example.
Other examples of wasted space.
The new sidewalks, streetlights, and other amenities provided by the project are much appreciated in the community. It’s a shame that the interstices of the design were not dealt with originally, but they now represent an opportunity for creativity and community engagement. Let a hundred fledgling landscape architects bloom!
How old does something have to be to be considered “historic?”
The modern commercial building, with housing in back, was built in 1960 by real estate agent W. A. McFarlane. McFarlane practiced his profession through the 1960s, possibly at other locations. He died in 1975.
The gap in this story is a long one; between the 1960s and 2000, when Nola Lum Hsu filed her Fictitious Business Name statement for the Golden Garden Restaurant. It’s also during this period that the brick-faced addition appeared.
Thailand Thai took over from Golden Garden in 2008.
The building was vacant in 2010 but Norm Owens was getting ready to open his Hot Box Grill that year.
According to Sonoma Magazine
Former Cafe La Haye chef Norman Owens has opened Hot Box Grill in Sonoma — technically Boyes Hot Springs — in what’s fast becoming a gourmet gulch. The Aqua (SF) and Canlis (Seattle) alum garnered serious cred while in the Sonoma kitchen before leaving.
Chef Rob Larman opened Cochan Volant in 2016, complete with the flying pig sculpture by Brian Tedrick, on the roof. In 2020, it continues to pump out fragrances that stimulate the salivary glands.
Please comment if you can fill in the gaps in the story of this building.
Hot Box Grill photo courtesy of Sonoma Magazine.
“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…”
“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.”
From The Lure of the Local, by Lucy Lippard.
It’s all about paying attention.
The course of the seasonal Lily Creek starts somewhere in the open space above Monterey Ave. (in the “Mountain Avenue Canyon”), goes under the street at Central and Verde Vista, travels below ground along Verde Vista, pops up at the corner of Verde Vista and Arroyo, ducks under again then is visible curling around the foundation of a house on Las Lomas, then parallels Arroyo Rd. traveling through back yards.
It’s curious that what is essentially an east-west water course would turn south very close to Sonoma Creek.
Tracy Irwin Storer was a biologist, not an artist or a poet or a historian, but a trained observer nonetheless. He thought it was worthwhile to note, in 1922, that “the French bullfrogs for sale,” he found near Boyes Hot Springs, “had been caught locally, along the creek, by two small boys.” Posterity thanks him for that evocative snapshot.
Thanks to Dan Levitis for showing me how to find field notes from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
Addendum 3, December 20, 2019
Photos from author’s collection. Index Tribune courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
Ovoid object of cast iron, heavily rusted, weight about 9 lbs, found, sometime in 2010, in the soil at the southeast corner of lot # 6 block 12 of the Boyes Springs Sudvivison A, which was platted in October of 1913. It appears to have been attached to a shaft, of which there is a broken stub. It’s too big and heavy to be doorknob: Possibly a surveyor’s corner marker.
The corners Sonoma Highway makes with Boyes Blvd. and Vallejo Ave. are the heart of Boyes Hot Springs. From the 1890s to now, it has been our commercial hub. Many buildings are gone, but significant ones remain, if altered. The Post Office has been there, in three different buildings, for over one hundred years. Many new businesses thrive and more are planned. During the season, we now have a weekly farmers market.
The path the highway follows was probably originated by mastadons migrating to the coast. Boyes Blvd. and Vallejo Ave. came along much later, during the early 20th century, when speculators started to subdivide the land.
Only the highway ( called “Road to Santa Rosa”) was there in 1860 when the United States Court confirmed Thaddeus Leavenworth’s claim to 534 and 62/100 acres of land in the Rancho Agua Caliente, land that was to become Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and Fetters hot Springs.
The highway is just called “County Road” in the 1916 Hotel Grounds subdivision map, which also show Boyes Blvd. but does not extend to the east, so no Vallejo.
Possibly the oldest photographs of the location are scenes of The Club House (Red roof in lower photo, shown on the Hotel Grounds map), Grahams Store, and other businesses, from around 1910.
A beautiful 1939 shot shows the entrance to the Sonoma Mission Inn, the Richfield Station, Jim’s café, other businesses and the palm tree in the center of “Boyes Plaza.”
Shot from slightly farther south, this 1930s photo also show Jim’s, in the distance, and two buildings in the foreground that are still there in 2019.
Now looking south at the Center Building, that housed Jim’s, past the corner of Vallejo Ave.
The southwest corner with the Woodleaf Store, around the same time (1930s).
This 1943 Naval aerial photo shows the train depot and palm tree in the upper right corner.
In the early 1950s, the Plaza Center building replaced the Boyes Plaza. The Center Building (opposite side of the highway) has become Polidori’s 5 + 10 cent store.
The Mission Inn entrance in the 1950s. On the right, signs for Gallo Brothers Service, Mike And Rose’s market and the C.O.G. club.
A little later in the 50s, Polidori’s has become the Boyes Variety store. The Woodleaf Market sign is promienent on the right, as well as Betty’s Cut and Curl.
In 1955 the Chamber of Commerce issued a map showing many local businesses, including ones at our corner.
The Big three closed in 2016, never to reopen? Buildings come and go. It’s inevitable. But preservation should be important to all of us. Let’s hope we can do what is needed to preserve the Big Three/Woodleaf from demolition.
Two artistic interpretations of the intersection from the Valley of the Moon Main Stem Project, by Michael Acker.
Thanks to Arthur Dawson for the Leavenworth Plat interpretation and general info. Other images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society, the Sonoma County Recorder’s Office, and Stanford Library Special Collections.
We found our friend Dick Dawley out in front of his house on Vallejo St., building a fence. Dick is 85 years old and he’s lived in Boyes Hot Springs for forty nine years. Many people know Dick from the twentyeight years he worked at Parson’s Hardware.
Dick’s fence, which he built from redwood 1x12s milled from logs salvaged from the 2017 fires.