The building now know as 18135 Highway 12, in Boyes Hot Springs, is one of the oldest commercial buildings in the community. The original business, Kramer’s Inn, goes back at least to 1918. That building was destroyed in the great fire of September 1923 and the current one dates from that year.
1938, 1950s, 1960s, 2021. Valley Hardware was in a building where the glass company (blue awnings, top photo) is now. It was right next to Gallo Bros. car dealership. This composite shows the building after it was sold to Esposito. Read on.
The sign says “Kramer’s Inn, Stage Depot.” Before or after the fire of 1923? The top of the façade looks like the later building, but we don’t know that he didn’t rebuild to duplicate the one that was destroyed. Anyway, what an interesting bunch of folks. All men but two. I particularly like the two guys in the center, one draping his arms over the other.What occasioned this group photo?
Immediately after the fire there was great determination to rebuild. Kramer set up his temporary store right away.
“The ashes at Boyes Springs were hardly cold before many of the enterprising property owners and business people began to re-establish themselves and put up buildings. Kramer, the grocer is doing business in a tent and will rebuild at once.” Index Tribune September 1923. October 20, 1923: “The Kramer store is nearing completion and many other improvements are contemplated as soon as the new state highway grade is authoritatively established.” Yes, this is incredibly fast construction! Remember, no permits were required.
In 1924, Kramer improved the store with a stucco front. In 1930, he became Greyhound agent for the Springs.
Noble Kramer was born in 1878 in Ohio. He came to California with his wife Luisa and daughter Lucille sometime before 1920. He had some political ambitions. In 1942 he ran for judge but was not elected. He ran for judge and county clerk several times without success, and applied to become the postmaster of Boyes Hot springs in the year the job was awarded to Marion Greene, of the Woodleaf Market.
In 1938 Kramer sold to A. Desposito who renamed it the Boyes Springs Store.
Noble Kramer Died 1948.
In 1942 Mike and Rose Gitti took over and ran the store as Mike and Rose’s Market. They retired in 1959. At that point (in 1959)the IT says “The store is now being remodeled and will be the new location of the Ammann’s Boutique women’s shop, which in the future will also carry a line of men’s clothing. The Gittis came to the Springs area in 1941 from San Rafael and Mike, who has been in the butcher trade since 1933, was employed at the Woodleaf Market until the couple opened their own store.” IT Jan 22, 1959
Zan Stark photo showing Mike and Roses’ Market across the street from the Sonoma Mission Inn and next door to Valley Hardware and Gallo’s. It’s difficult to see but the hardware store has a Sherwin Williams “Cover the Earth” sign.
After 1959 there is a blank in the record.
We pick up the trail again in 1973. In June of that year the building housed The Bookworm used bookstore.
In August of 1975 we find Pam’s Professional Grooming in residence.
July 1977 finds Crafty’s, a store selling dolls, dollhouses, and little bitty furniture.
February, 1978 Better Homes Realty takes over the space. They remain until December of 1979, when Bill Coombs, real estate agent, puts his franchise up for sale for $6,000.
Apparently that did’t work out because Coombs transitioned into the used record business using his former realty office. In March of 1981 he transferred that business to Jared Simpson who operated it as “Love Me Two Times” (obviously he was a Doors fan.)
The next mention in the IT is in 1991, when it was listed as a residence in a crime report.
It was again vacant of businesses, as far as we know, during the years-1990-2005.
In the 21st Century
Mas por Menos, an all-purpose business catering to Spanish speaking people took the space in 2009. They cashed checks, provided email, fax and Internet services, sold phone cards, provided “envois de dinero” and even sold airline tickets. Unfortunately they lasted only a year, but they did do some much needed maintenance to the facade.
In 2010 Lonesome Cowboy Ranch, purveyors of vintage Western wear and memorabilia set up shop and did well until 2020, when they closed.
Today we are lucky to have Heritage Furniture. They make the classic Adirondack chair using high-tech laser cutting and CAD design. We wish them success and a long tenure at 18135 Sonoma Highway.
Photographs and Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and author’s collection.