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.
Rozarios’ resort, the successor to Parente’s Villa, was located on Verano Avenue between the Highway and the bridge.
Louis Parente, a notorious bar owner, fight promoter and would-be politician, came to El Verano in 1906 from San Francisco. (Please see Jeff Elliot’s great santarosahistory.com for much more on Parente: http://santarosahistory.com/wordpress/2016/07/the-village-of-vice-in-the-valley-of-the-moon/
By 1925 he had built a “new” hotel.
According to the Index Tribune, “The 43 room hotel, hut, cottages and grounds were purchased by the Rozarios in 1943, and it was on January 1, 1944 that they opened it for business. The former San Francisco and Marin county residents had purchased the property from Joe Parente [actually Louis Parente], colorful Bay Area sports figure who brought many prize fighters here to train.”
Rozario’s was popular through the 1950s for wedding receptions, fashion shows, and formal dinners.
The Rozarios sold the resort to Carl Innskeep and Joe La Rango in 1955.
It later became known as the El Verano Inn.
The buildings were torn down in 1985 to make way for an extension of the Finnish American Home Association’s housing complex for retired people, which was located behind the old resort building. In that year, the editor of the FAHA Manor News explained in a letter to the editor of the Index Tribune that FAHA wanted to preserve the building, but “could not afford the very expensive improvements necessary…” Thus we lost another piece of our history.
Thomson Avenue, not Thompson Avenue, was named for Dr. Allen Thomson, who had been physician to General Vallejo, and who married one of his granddaughters. Thomson was president of the company that developed the subdivision known as Boyes Springs Park . Thomson Street is its southern border.
The building at the southeast corner was a Red Crown gas station circa 1930. It later became the Ferrando’s Plumbing building and now houses La Michoacana Ice Cream and Plain Janes. It was famously made over by Rico Martin in 2015.
Directly across Highway 12 from the end of Thomson (not East Thomson!) was Baker’s Drive In, established in 1957 (and open 24 hours per day!) In 1958 Norman Baker had big plans to build a truck stop on this property, but the county would not approve the project.
These photos from 1958, courtesy of the Sonoma County Library, were used in a court case, the nature of which is unknown, but could have been a suit over a traffic accident. In the photo of the highway looking south, a sign can be seen (below the Richfield sign) which proclaims Farrell’s Resort, which would have been on the property now partially occupied by Arroyo Vet Hospital.
In 1972, John Metallinos and family opened the Fruit Basket on Arnold Drive.
They opened their Boyes Springs branch sometime later, probably in the early 1980s, at the old Baker’s Drive In. On June 15, 1983, a fire destroyed that building.
Nearly a year later, the Boyes Springs Fruit Basket reopened, “in a flourish of live Greek music and dancing,” in its new building, which was designed by architect William Dimick.
The Fruit Basket in 2107. It really is a graceful building.
My thanks to Mark Maberly for information about Dr. Thomson, and his general enthusiasm for our history. As always, contributions of knowledge are welcomed. Please leave a comment.
We left off with Selig Rosenthal’s death in 1938. But the story of Rosenthal’s Resort did not end there.In June of 1939, Dora Rosenthal married Joe Winters, a well-known local tailor.
Joe Winters’ shop was for many years located next to the El Dorado Hotel. The red and white awning of the Raymond Real Estate office would not get past the Sonoma Design Review Commission now!
Winters was very involved with the rodeo in 1939. The rodeo was started in 1929 and ran through the 1950s, on the Millerick Ranch near Schellville.
In 1939, National Geographic amgazine came to Sonoma and photographed the Rodeo “Kangaroo Court,” which included Joe Winters.
Winters was a Polish citizen. He applied for dual citizenship in 1940. R.R. Emapran was one of his witnesses. Emparan was the grandson of General Mariano G. Vallejo.
In that year Harry Lyons was again partnering to run the resort.
In 1941, “the main building of the Winters resort near Boyes Springs, formerly Rosenthal’s hotel, is being remodeled by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Winters into seven apartments.”
Rental accommodations were in high demand for defense workers at Mare Island. In 1942, the IT reported that many other resorts were being converted for war housing: “Farrell’s, Parente’s, Rosenthal’s, and Maurel Villa used to be popular in the good old summer time, but are now rented to all year round tenants, cottages being especially in demand. Fetters Hot Springs has its share too.”
In 1945 the IT said the Winters had sold their resort and retired to San Francisco. They had actually sold the resort in 1943 to Mrs. Mary Kalivoda, who ran it as Acacia Grove Resort until 1955, when it was sold to A. R. Wilson of El Cerrito.
Here is another example of the serendipity that happens when you search newspaper archives. On the same page as the item about the new Acacia Grove owners is this photo of Charlie Peluffo’s house being moved. Peluffo was the developer of the Plaza Center Building at the old Boyes plaza site. The house stood where shopping center at Verano Avenue is, and was move to a lot on Lomita Avenue. Is it still there?
The building that houses the Thai restaurant now (2016) was originally a store.
Photo from 2008 of the Rosenthal Store building, housing E Sann Thai restaurant.
The building was the home of Lee and Lia Chinese restaurant from 1976 to 1987.
As with the Springs in general, the economic downturn that came with the end of the resort era, brought a certain amount of crime associated with Acacia Grove.
However, positive things were happening also. In 1966 contractro R.A. Lof added a new laundry room and showers.
Jack Weiler bought Acacia Grove in 1971 and his family still owns it in 2017.
Interesting buildings from the Rosenthal days:The chicken coop. Poultry husbandry was common and popular in the Springs in the early 20th Century.
The resort was served by a well. The water was stored in the tank house, which is a residence today.This building was La Salette Restaurant for a few years, but has been vacant a long time. What function did it serve in the heyday of the resort?
The Grange Hall in the 1930s, 2008, and 2012.
A sampling of the history of the Food Center, as told by the Index Tribune. Included are surrounding articles and advertisements, to give some sense of the life in the Springs in 1949. That year was indeed a special one in this area, and deserves and article of its own.
1956. Presidential politics anybody?
Architect Hugh Duffy designed the Plaza Center building also.
One of Zan Stark’s wonderful photographs of the building, and more. 1950s.2008. The tiled awning was still in place.