Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Entertainment, History, mid-century, People, Sports

May 28, 1959

This day, sixty one years ago. Eighteen pages in the issue. What happened that day? Things small and large, meaningful and trivial. Presented with just a few comments and notes.

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Valley Mourns Oscar Larson-See page 14 for an editorial appreciation of this important figure in mid-twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs.

Incorporation, Bank sought at Boyes –“’A committee to form a committee’” to work for incorporation of Boyes Hot Springs as a full-fledged city, was appointed Tuesday at noon meeting of the Boyes Hot Springs Merchants Association, held at Sonoma Mission Inn.” Zan Stark Jr., Harry Phinney and Milton Greger were appointed to “establish a “citizens committee” to “sell” the incorporation plan in the area.”

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More about Oscar Larson. Dr. Ronald Scott fished in Oregon. Big News! (Oregon keeps coming up in this issue.)

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You could get a permit to burn things.

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“Never used anything like it,” say users of Berlou mothspray, odorless, stainless, and guaranteed to stop moths for five whole years. Simmons Pharmacy, WE 8-2039.

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“Bob Fouts, sportscaster for the San Francisco 49ers and other athletic events of both radio and television, plans to spend the summer in the Valley of the Moon, the Index Tribune learned this week. Fouts, his wife and five children will reside in the Bel Aire development near the Sonoma golf Course, where they will temporarily rent a home during the summer months.” Just a few years later, Dan Fouts would be starring at quarterback for the University of Oregon, which is mentioned page 17.

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Mary’s opens!

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Merchants meeting continued:

“Help from an outside source in the merchants’ fight to retain the identity of the Boyes Hot Springs Post office came at the meeting when Harry Kay of Santa Rosa, member of the State and County Democratic Central committee pledged his aid.”

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“The El Verano Improvement club members will meet on June 12 at the clubhouse on Riverside Drive.”

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“Key figures in Valley of the Moon Little League…Gene Morreton, August Sebastiani, J. Bettencourt, C.M. Marsh, Carl Ellason, Betty Thomas, Thelma Ashley, Paul Marcucci Sr., Bud Butts…”

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New Safeway Store to be Discussed By City Planners”, “No Setting Aside of Prunes This Year.

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Mario Ciampi is recognized in Life Magazine for design of Sassarini Elementary School.

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Oscar Larson remembered. A letter to the editor about Valley Unification.

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Justin Murray Combo at the Palms Inn!

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“Dr. and Mrs. Michael Mikita of Sobre Vista returned home recently after spending five days in Eugene, Oregon, visiting their son, Michael who is a freshman at the University of Oregon.”

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Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

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Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names

Sonoma Highway

UPDATE at the end of the post.

Highway 12 is thought by Breck Parkman, retired State Parks archeologist, to have originally been a mammoth trail from the valley that is now the Bay out to the Russian River.

Deseno

 

The Diseño is a hand-drawn map showing the boundaries of a land grant, used in Alta California during the Mexican period. Several were drawn for the Rancho Agua Caliente, which encompassed the Springs area. Ecological historian Arthur Dawson interprets it this way:

“The mission is on the far right, Hwy 12 route is marked ‘camino de sonoma’–For some reason it changes from grey to red just west of ‘Portuzuelo’, which means a pass or a gap and I would bet refers to the area around the CalFire station by the Regional Park. In a car it’s not very noticeable, but on foot or horseback it does qualify as a pass. Also notice the Casa de Rancho, somewhere near Fiesta Market; Agua Caliente; and ‘siembra’ which means ‘plowed field. Arroyo Grande is Sonoma Creek. Corte de Madera is the neighborhood of Atwood Ranch. ‘Arroyo de los Guilucos’ =Nunn’s Canyon. Outline of the ranch is in red as is part of the road, which is a little confusing. But once you know that it makes sense.”

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California State Highway 12, know as Sonoma Highway from the Town of Sonoma to Santa Rosa, once referred to as the Santa Rosa Road, is the main street of the old resort area of Sonoma Valley, including Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, and Agua Caliente. Only a little west of the Highway is El Verano, the fourth settlement in the resort quartet. The entire road runs from Sebastopol in the west, to the town of San Andreas in the Gold Country to the east. In Napa County it runs through the Carneros region. It was there that photographer Charles O’Rear snapped the picture that was to become “Bliss,” the Microsoft screen saver that some claim is the most viewed photograph in history (see note.)

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Sonoma Highway at Spain St. in Sonoma

According to Californiahighways.org (a massive resource!):

“Historically, this route is close to the original “El Camino Real” (The Kings Road). A portion of this route has officially been designated as part of “El Camino Real.

The portion of this route running through Sonoma County is called the “Valley of the Moon Scenic Route“. “Valley of the Moon” was the name Jack London, resident of Glen Ellen, coined for this area. The first such sign with this name is when the Farmers Lane portion ends in Santa Rosa.

South of the town of Sonoma, Route 12 is called Broadway until it intersects Route 121 near Schellville. Route 12/Route 121 to Napa County is called alternately “Fremont Drive” or “Carneros Highway.” The latter term continues into Napa County.“https://www.cahighways.org/009-016.html#012

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At Calistoga Rd. in Santa Rosa.

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  1. First mention in the IT of the “Santa Rosa Road.”

P.L. McGill, Road Overseer of the township, in addition to the improvements on the Napa road, mention of which was made a few weeks ago, has just finished repairing the Petaluma road from Agnew’s Lane to the dividing line between Sonoma and Vallejo townships. This piece of road, which has been a terror to wagon spokes and horse flesh in times past, is now in fine traveling condition. Mr. McGill at present is engaged in grading from Gibson’s to Drummond’s on the Santa Rosa road and eventually expects to have every bad road in his township in a through state of repair.

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In 1917, arguing for highway improvements, the IT states “There were beaten paths to the hot springs a century ago and as far back as 1850, the Sonoma Bulletin began the plea for a better connecting link through the Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa.”

On these maps of Agua Caliente from 1888, the road from Sonoma to Santa Rosa is called Main Street.

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In 1938 Bessie L. Mantifel applied for a liquor license for her Hollywood Inn, located on W. S. State Highway #12, El Verano, Sonoma County.

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Promotional match book covers and brochures had maps inside.

 

Before the 1964 renumbering, this route was signed as Sign Route 12 for most of its length. However, SR 12 was designated as Legislative Route 51 (LR 51) from SR 116 to SR 121.

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1940 Census map.

Note on “Bliss”:

In January 1996 former National Geographic photographer Charles O’Rear was on his way from his home in St. Helena, California, in the Napa Valley north of San Francisco, to visit his girlfriend, Daphne Irwin (whom he later married), in the city, as he did every Friday afternoon. He was working with Irwin on a book about the wine country. He was particularly alert for a photo opportunity that day, since a storm had just passed over and other recent winter rains had left the area especially green.[4] Driving along the Sonoma Highway (California State Route 12 and 121) he saw the hill, free of the vineyards that normally covered the area; they had been pulled out a few years earlier following a phylloxera infestation.[5] “There it was! My God, the grass is perfect! It’s green! The sun is out; there’s some clouds,” he remembered thinking. He stopped somewhere near the NapaSonomacounty line and pulled off the road to set his Mamiya RZ67 medium-format camera on a tripod, choosing Fujifilm‘s Velvia, a film often used among nature photographers and known to saturate some colors.[1][6] O’Rear credits that combination of camera and film for the success of the image. “It made the difference and, I think, helped the ‘Bliss’ photograph stand out even more,” he said. “I think that if I had shot it with 35 mm, it would not have nearly the same effect.”[7] While he was setting up his camera, he said it was possible that the clouds in the picture came in. “Everything was changing so quickly at that time.” He took four shots and got back into his truck.[4][8] According to O’Rear, the image was not digitally enhanced or manipulated in any way. [9

Over the next decade it has been claimed to be the most viewed photograph in the world during that time.[3] Other photographers have attempted to recreate the image, some of which have been included in art exhibitions. Wikipeidia

Paste copy of cease and desist order from Microsoft here.

 

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

Diseño courtesy Bancroft Library

2nd Agua Caliente map courtesy Jeff Gilbert

In 1924 we celebrated the opening of the newly paved highway. It was quite a grand event! Chairman of the State Highway Commission Harvey Toy is mentioned. There is a Toy Lane in Boyes Hot Springs.

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena

Waste Space

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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.

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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.

 

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Layout of the Hawthorne-Thomson stretch

This 300’ strip on the east side of the highway between Hawthorne and Thomson is a good example.

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October 2009, soon after construction was finished. Broadcast wildflower seeds are just sprouting.

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November 2016. Weeds and exotic grasses grow mixed with a few California poppies surviving from 2009.

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2019. Property owners have planted palm trees.

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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!

 

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century

A Short History, with a gap, of 18350 Sonoma Highway

How old does something have to be to be considered “historic?”

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Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

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.

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Thailand Thai took over from Golden Garden in 2008.

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The building was vacant in 2010 but Norm Owens was getting ready to open his Hot Box Grill that year.

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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.

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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.

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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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New Map:

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“Open water” is represented by the dotted brown line. The dark blue is the storm sewer which starts at Central and Verde Vista and ends in the Sonoma Mission Inn grounds. Map courtesy of Sonoma County.

 

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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After the rains, December 2019

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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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Addendum 2

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Courtesy Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46299918

 

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.

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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.

 

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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 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.

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