Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Uncategorized

The Olive Grove Tract

The Olive Grove Tract: Where was it? What is the history of the trees? And where did the church go?

According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat article from 1942, “Edwin P. Thomson, who many years ago owned the site of Fetters Springs…in 1887, planted the olive grove that now borders the highway between Fetters and Boyes Springs.” In 1946, the PD tells us that “Twenty-five acres of olive grove property fronting the state highway in Boyes Hot Springs and extending down to the ballpark, will soon be made available as an exclusive business and residential subdivision…” the owners were Bill Johnson and Rudy Lichtenberg, who also owned and managed the Boyes Bath House. Both men have streets named after them in that area.

Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson at the Boyes Bath House

(Courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society)

This map, from the website 321, shows an area which they call “Olive Grove.”



This is part of an aerial photograph from 1961, with a few street names superimposed. At that time, Bokman Avenue did not exist. Bokman approximately follows the outfield fence of the Boyes Springs Ball Park, which can be seen left center of the photo.

According to an IT article from 1988, the trees covered an area of 12.5 acres at that time. The trees were bulldozed in 1988, much to the dismay of local residents. See below.

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Zan Stark photo showing olive grove behind the ball park (to the east.) Courtesy, Stanford University Library, Special Collections.

At various times, various people have made the claim that the trees in the Olive Grove tract were planted by M. G. Vallejo. This was asserted and denied in 1988 when the trees were removed. Real estate agents and B + B proprietors still use this “information.”OliveGroveTrees988

(Copy from online advertisment, below)

Property Details for 17600 Johnson Ave

This property is no longer available to rent or buy. This description is from May 03, 2010

Experience this darling 1949 Turn-Key home in the heart of the Wine Country! This meticulous 2 bedroom, 1 bath home features a spacious vintage kitchen, and a light and bright living room. The private back yard is a gardener’s delight that includes a patio, a deck and plenty of shade provided by two mighty olive trees that were once part of General Vallejo’s olive grove. Minutes from the Sonoma Plaza, restaurants and wineries.

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 12.10.32 PM copy

”The area where this home is located was once part of General Vallejo’s personal olive grove.”

As mentioned above, the remaining trees were removed in 1988.


Olive trees on DeChene Ave. in 2017. (Author’s photos) Many of the existing trees in the area seem very old. They could be survivors from Thomson’s orchard.

The Valley of the Moon Community Church.

The Valley of the Moon Community Church was located in the Olive Grove tract.



In September of 1951, the foundations were poured. Fourteen months later, “The handsome church building is slowly but surely nearing completion.” In August of 1953, the church building was in use.


This Chamber of Commerce map, courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, from the 1955 shows the VOM Community church approximately where Lichtenberg St. comes into DeChene Ave.


This is the last mention of the Church in the IT. What happened to the congregation? What happened to the church building?


Many thanks to Joanna Kolosov of the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library for information from the Press Democrat and other sources.


Regrettably, we have lost track of the name of the gentleman who loaned the 1961 aerial photograph. The photograph was provided to him by Sonoma County.

Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Uncategorized

Valley Watch Repair

Antonio Juan, who took over Johnny Mazza’s barber shop in 2017, found this clock in the back of the shop.


Valley Watch Repair was started in 1954 by George R. Trueman, who previously ran a jewelry store in Sacramento. The shop was located in the Kinucan building, at first. This building, once called the Central building, was located on the highway, on the land that now features the Sonoma Mission Inn employee parking lot. At the time Trueman moved in, part of the building was used for the Boyes Springs Variety Store, run by the Polidori family.ValleyWatch1954


In this post card photo by Zan Stark, the Variety Store is at left. The cars date the scene to 1954.ValleyWatchad1954ValleyWatchBusinessAssoc1955

George Trueman became active in the business community. In 1955 he was elected vice president of the newly formed Boyes Springs Merchants Association. President was Tom Polidori. Zan Stark and Babe Gallo were directors.

(The photo caption on the same page tells of the former A.B. Peluffo house being moved from the site of the new shopping center at the corner of the highway and Verano Avenue. Pellufo was the developer of the Plaza Center building which houses the post office in Boyes Hot Springs.)


In 1956 Trueman moved his business to the former Saul Becker real estate office adjacent to Gallo’s Service station on the east side of the highway, near Arroyo Road. (Gaye Notely left for Berkeley a few days later, as we ;earn on the same page of the Index Tribune. Much later she would become Gaye Le Baron.)iValleydrugValleyWatchMrsTruemanShop1958

Mrs. Trueman opened her yardage and clothing store next to the Valley Watch Repair, “opposite the Mission Inn entrance on Highway 12…” in 1958. ZanE47SMIEntrance

The indispensable Zan Stark provides a view of the Mission Inn entrance.

In 1961, the Truemans sold their businesses and embarked on a cross-country road trip, saying they would return to Sonoma Valley. And return they did, in 1962, and set up business in Frank’s Hardware.ValleyWatchTruyemanSell1961


Photographs courtesy of Michael Acker

Architecture, El Verano, History, mid-century, Resorts, Uncategorized


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 for much more on Parente:

By 1925 he had built a “new” hotel.


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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.


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The Rozarios sold the resort to Carl Innskeep and Joe La Rango in 1955.

It later became known as the El Verano Inn.ElVeranoInnweb

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.RozariosTornDown1985clip



Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Photographs, Uncategorized

The Corner of Thomson Avenue and Highway 12


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.BHSSubDivBweb

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.


The caption says “Questerman/Churchill Garage.” Note the misspelling of the street name and the designation “east.”

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!)Baker'sArticleAd In 1958 Norman Baker had big plans to build a truck stop on this property, but the county would not approve the project.BakerTruckStopweb


Looking South, Farrell’s sign at left, Baker’s Drive In at right.


Looking at Bakers’ Drive In on Hwy 12, from Thomson. Red Crown building seen at left.


Looking North

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.FruitBasketFireweb

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.

History, mid-century

Mendel Cader

Mendel Cader was Sam Ganos’ step-son. Lillian Cader, Mendel’s mother, married Sam in the 1930s. Mendel married in 1944.

Sam Ganos emigrated from Greece in 1907. Making his way from New York to Sonoma Valley, he opened Sam’s Grill in 1916, in the building that still stands on the Highway, opposite Central Ave. It now houses La Hacienda Taqueria (2016.) This means there has been a restaurant in that building for 100 years. (See the post about Sam).

According to Todd Ganos, Sam’s grandson, Sam brought Mendel into the business in the late 40s, eventually turning it over to him, renaming it Mendel’s Café. In the early 1950s, the Café moved around the corner to the building on Boyes Blvd. These buildings later came to known as the “Uncle Patty’s” block.

bhs1950ssnapshots1-copyAn article in the Index Tribune of June 1, 1951, tells us the café would be open every day but Tuesday, starting Memorial Day. On the same page we learn that, “14,000 swam at Boyes Over the Weekend.” Also on the same page was an ad for Bob and Edith Lanning’s Resort Club, offering “Fun, Friendship and Fine Drinks…. Blue Pacific Strings are playing Saturday night.”nathansThe building next to Mendel’s, housing Nelson’s Delicatessen in the 50s, is thought to be the former Nathan’s, dating from circa 1910. (Photo courtesy of the California State Library.)mendelsopensnotelyRather than just citing newspaper stories, sometimes it’s interesting to look at the whole page, or part of a page, to give context. The above clipping is from the Index Tribune, November 14, 1952. It’s interesting that the “local boy” witnessing the H bomb test was permitted to write home about it! The Hot Springs Happenings columnist later became Gaye LeBaron who is well known as a journalist and historian of Sonoma County. Visit to find out about the Gaye Lebaron Collection at the Sonoma State University Library. (Reading newspaper archives is similar to reading the dictionary: all kinds of unexpected information and associations pop up.)

In March, 1955 Mendel sold the café to Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sterling. Cader had been running the café for eight years. The same year, Mendel was apparently managing the restaurant at the Sonoma Golf and Country Club. That New Years Eve he offered “dancing, favors, surprises” and a deluxe steak dinner for $7.50. In 1958, Mendel was hosting at the Broadway Café, located at #536 Broadway. The same year, he closed the Broadway Café and opened a bar in San Francisco, “with an uncle.”it1958mendelbroadwaycafecropSome time after the SF venture he again opened Mendel’s Café in Boyes, which had become “Millie’s.” He then sold it in 1963 and went on to operate Diamond Lil’s Restaurant in Petaluma with his brother Dave.diamondlilfrontandbackLillian Cader Ganos had inherited Sam Gano’s substantial estate, which she lavished on Mendel and his brother, who proceeded to go bankrupt in the 1970s.


Architecture, History, mid-century, Uncategorized

The Boyes Springs Food Center

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?it1956foodcenterpolitics

Architect Hugh Duffy designed the Plaza Center building also.it1960bigthreearchitect-copy

One of Zan Stark’s wonderful photographs of the building, and more. 1950s.zane64lookingnorth2008. The tiled awning was still in place.foodcenter2008


New to the Springs Historic Photo Database


The Valley of the Moon Daily Review


The street scene by Zan Stark shows, at left, offices of the Valley of the Moon Daily Review, of which he was publisher in the late 50s and early 60s. The paper is from 1956.

Zan was prolific photographer and publisher of post cards from the 30s through the 50s. Copies of the newspaper are rare. They are valuable historical records of life in the Springs in the mid twentieth century. If you have one or two, consider giving them to this Museum, or the Depot Park Museum. Thank you!

Postcard image used Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries.