Woodleaf Park is the name of one of the many subdivisions platted in the Springs around 1910.
In August of 1921, the Index Tribune helpfully stated “The attention of our readers is called to the ad of the Woodleaf Grocery Store at Boyes Springs. This store in the Cabanot block is conducted by Mrs. Lovett and is giving excellent service to residents in and about the Springs.” (Notice a 1921 use of the term “the Springs.”) The Cabanot Block was at the corner of the State Highway and Boyes Blvd.
In September of 1923, most of Boyes Springs was destroyed by fire.
But, by early 1924, rebuilding had begun. Mr. Cabanot hired builder M. Y. Hansen to construct the new Woodleaf Store, on the site of the old structure.
In March of 1924, “It is reported (by the IT) that B. Cabanot, pioneer property owner and resort keeper of Boyes Springs, has sold out to E. Peters of San Francisco. Mr. Cabanot was one the first to show his faith in Boyes Springs real estate. He recently bought and improved a business block near the N. W. P. station which is now tenanted by store keepers.” It is assumed that this refers to Cabanot selling his resort, which was also near the railroad station.
Marion Greene was a community leader. In 1939 she was president of the Sonoma County Retail Grocer’s Association. She operated the Woodleaf Store from 1921 to 1949.
Greene sold the store (not the building, which she did not own) to George Riccomi, a member of the Cabanot family, in 1951, and he installed a modern soda fountain and a horse-shoe counter in a “brilliant formica yellow design,” and chartreuse (!) leather upholstery, according the Index Tribune.
The interior was remodeled by architect Hugh Duffy and became the Big Three Market in 1959. The sign was modified to read “Big Three” at the top. Later, perhaps in the 1970s, the bottom portion was removed entirely. (Duffy was also the architect of the Plaza Center building and the Boyes Food Center.)
In 1980, the Sonoma Mission Inn Corporation, under Edward Safdie, bought the building and continued operation of the store and soda fountain. A later iteration of the Inn converted the store into a café. In 2016, the Fairmount Corporation closed the café permanently. Future plans for the site are unknown.
A recent posting on Facebook of a photograph of the Big Three elicited over 60 comments. Below are some samples.
I used to catch the Greyhound bus there in the mid 60s.
The Greyhound bus stopped there. You bought your ticket inside. Rose and I rode the Greyhound to San Francisco for a day. Met Burt and Walker. Our Mom’s didn’t know. Fun!
It was the Woodleaf and then the Big 3, my mother waitressed there when I was a kid. I would hang out readiing comics and wait for her to get off work, occasionally…great shakes, too!
Not many remember the lumber yard in the background. Diamond Lumber.
I remember those big swinging doors . … I think they got to be to dangerous. They blocked them off later and put the magazine rack in front of them.
I remember buying my first comic book there for $0.10. Around 1967.
And riding a pony ride they had out front.
I lived on Highland & Monterey area.
We had a ritual when I lived on 4th and Thompson, Frank’s trading post, swim at the Bath House, a quick Matinee at the Boyes Theatre, Big 3 for a new Comic and finally BHS Food Center during the warm months. Great time to live there.
I can still smell it and see the broken tiles in the sloped entrance
There were 3 owners- hence the name.
The fountain was where the men around met for coffee and to lie to each other in the morning.
I remember Polidori’s 5 & Dime across the street on the corner, maybe before the post office was there? I think he was the postmaster for awhile. Ate at Big 3 many times, mom shopped there often, we would buy $.05 donuts there, caught the bus there many times, and played in the abandoned lumber yard next door (across from Gallo’s) often
Toad stool was still there so had to be in the late 60’s or early 70’s
We locals were known as “toads”
Creaky wood floors
Lyle Tuttle’s tattoo shop was next to the bus station. Sketchy area.
All images are from the author’s collection or courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
On December 20, 1956, the Sonoma Index Tribune reported “Old timers in Boyes felt some remorse this Monday when the old stately palm tree in the Boyes Plaza was cut down to make way for a new building.” The new building was the second half of the Plaza Center building, which houses the post office today. The IT went on, “They (the old timers) could remember standing beneath that tree when the old train used to unload vacationers at the railroad station, located years ago, right near the tree.”
Yes, there was a Plaza in Boyes Springs. It existed as part of the land owned by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. A railroad map from 1925 shows an elongated lozenge shaped feature, parallel to the tracks, bisected by pathways at right angles, and with a circular form at the center. The palm tree was there, according to an aerial photo from 1943.
In 1949 the IT reported that the Boyes Springs Boosters Club voted to “ put a new lawn at the Boyes Hot Springs Plaza and pay for the electricity used in keeping the “Boyes Hot Springs Welcome” sign lighted each evening.
In 1941 plans for the celebration of the centennial of the Bear Flag revolt included an event at the BHS Plaza.
In 1949, the community celebrated its own “centennial.” How 1849 was chosed as a founding year is unclear. The hot springs had been commercialized by 1847 by Andrew Heoppner. Thaddeus Leavenworth arrived in 1849, but Boyes didn’t show up until 1882.
At any rate, the editorial page of the Index Tribune approved.
The idea of a new Boyes Hot Springs Plaza has resurfaced in recent years. Several architects have produced conceptual plans. Below is the Ross, Drulis Cusenberry version.
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.
In July of 1911, the Sonoma Index Tribune reported that “A.D. Graham of Graham’s Cash Store received the appointment as post master of Boyes Springs. Located at his store.” The exact date was July 8, 1911. The location of the store, now not know exactly, was near the train depot at Boyes Blvd. and the Sonoma Highway.
That building was lost, along with most of the town in the fire of 1923. After rapid rebuilding, the post office was located in the Woodleaf Store. It stayed there until 1951. The Woodleaf became the Big Three Diner, part of the Sonoma Mission Inn. The post office relocated to the Plaza Center building at Sonoma Hwy. and Boyes Blvd. when it was built in 1951, where it is today. Prior to 1951 this site was know as the Boyes Springs Plaza and was the scene of street parties and fiestas.
In 2011 we celebrated the centennial. To produce the joyous event, we had the help of the USPS and its employees, Sonoma County, the owner of the Plaza Center building, Kickstarter donors, the Springs Community Alliance, and many volunteers.
Courtesy Robert Palmelee
The resort was located on the east side of Sonoma Highway, near the corner of what was then known as Sonoma Avenue, now Marin Avenue. The Agua Caliente post office was reportedly located in one of the resort buildings.
Map courtesy of Jeff Gilbert
In a 1941 article, the Index Tribune located the resort across the road from (the old) Flowery School, which was at the corner of Vailetti Drive.
In this alarming article from 1972, the address is listed as 17127 Sonoma Highway.
The founders of Caliente Villa in Agua Caliente are not known, but we do know the resort was owned by A. Nevraumont by 1917. Nevraumont was an early resort owner in El Verano, having established El Verano Villa before the turn of the 20th century.
”My Great Uncle Joe Costa and My Great Uncle SFPD Officer Joe O’Rourke – Early 1930’s…Great Shot of Caliente Villa – Behind Them.” Jeff Gilbert via Facebook.
In 1923 the buildings changed hands.
Courtesy Lynn Downey
In fact, the Villa went through many owners and managers. In 1920 Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were in charge. They…”have leased the (resort) and will conduct the popular springs resort on the apartment plan…” Along with “modern conveniences and comforts,” the new proprietors would provide “a long distance phone” and a “classy jazz orchestra!”
That same year, Lewis and Ross entertained “twenty four members of the Salt Lake City baseball team…Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were assisted by a number of young ladies…There was dancing, music and card playing…” and “everything was complimentary, including the smokes, and the boys report a swell time.”
Courtesy California State Library
Jack Valente (his name is seen under Caliente Villa in the sign) ran the resort as of 1940. The term “auto camp,” however, was in use at least from the early 1920s. Automobile tourism in Sonoma Valley started before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Note the dormers on the three buildings shown in the photo.
Several of the buildings were in existence in 1984 when Dan Peterson made his Historic Resource report for Redevelopment.
The development proposal in 1986 probably resulted in the demolition of 17127, and it looks like the 20 multifamily units were indeed built.
17101 was still there in 2008.
In 2018 only one survives (17123).