Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, History, nature, Resorts

The Arroyo of Arroyo Road

“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.

Susan Sontag

 

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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.

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In the open space, looking towards Mountain Avenue.

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Looking northeast from the corner of Central and Monterey towards the top of the drainage, circa 1910.

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At Central Verde Vista, a complicated bit of engineering.

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The creek runs under Verde Vista and pops up briefly at Arroyo Road

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The majestic stone work of the old Larson Villa guards the creek’s appearance at the corner of Arroyo Rd. and Verde Vista

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On Las Lomas.

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In 2009 a property owner put the section of creek through the lot near Vallejo and Arroyo underground. Although this was engineered and done with county permits, the work constricted the watercourse and provided a place at its head for brush and debris to pile up, blocking flow. This has remained a problem.

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Flooding, February 2019

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July 2019

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February 2019

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West of Vallejo St, the bed goes through the yards of three houses, and then dives under Highway 12 at Arroyo.

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The original Mary’s pizza Shack at Arroyo Rd. and Highway 12. The creek was undergrounded here in the 1980s. The old concrete guardrail at the creek can be seen in both photos.

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Entrance to the Sonoma Mission Inn, 2019

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Entrance to the Sonoma Mission Inn, circa 1950. Photo by Zan Stark.

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On the other side of the highway it enters the grounds of the Sonoma Mission Inn. It is first seen there where a large grate covers the entrance. This was put into place, so it’s said, to keep miscreants from crawling through the culvert and into the grounds. It daylights briefly near the swimming pool, then disappears into the brush.

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Just west of the SMI it takes a turn to the south, paralleling Happy Lane and Sonoma Creek. It crosses West Thomson near Happy Lane, behind the Ratto place, skirts the end of Academy Lane and then Fairview Lane, and enters Agua Caliente Creek near the Finnish American Heritage Association (Old Maple St.)

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Lilly Creek behind the Ratto place, where it goes under West Thomson.

It’s curious that what is essentially an east-west water course would turn south very close to Sonoma Creek.

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Behind FAHA, near Sonoma Creek.

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Sonoma Creek near its confluence with Agua Caliente Creek and Lily Creek and the bridge between Verano and El Verano.

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I like to think that the bullfrog photographed in 1922, “near El Verano,” was found somewhere under the “Bridge between Verano and El Verano.”

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Photos from author’s collection. Index Tribune courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Wonders and Marvels

Nine Pounds of Iron

 

KnobTopDown1Knobfrint1Ovoid 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.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Now and Then, Resorts

The Center of Town

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Now looking south at the Center Building, that housed Jim’s, past the corner of Vallejo Ave.

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The southwest corner with the Woodleaf Store, around the same time (1930s).

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This 1943 Naval aerial photo shows the train depot and palm tree in the upper right corner.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 interpetation 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.

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Fetters Hot Springs, History, Resorts

Leixner/Nimpfer/Weghofer

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The Viennese

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.”

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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.

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The new facade is dated 1933

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Herman Weghofer went on to open his Vienna Coffee Garden just a few hundred feet south of there, a few years later.

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ViennaCoffeeAd1933On 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).”

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In 1945Leixner and Nimpfer “branch” out.

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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.

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Close-up showing fragment of Mexican restaurant sign, 2018.

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2009

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2008

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2015

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April 2018. Dilapidation increases. How long can these buildings stand?

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December 2018. New windows and new paint give hope!

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.

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photo collage/painting by Michael Acker

All photos by author or from his collection, except where noted. Newspaper clippings courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

 

 

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