Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, People

John W. Minges, the “mayor” of Boyes Springs

J.W. Minges was a prominent business man and property owner of the Boyes Hot Springs community from 1905 through 1927.

According to the 1920 census, John W. Minges was born in Arkansas in 1845, although his obituary says New Orleans. He came to California with his family by ox team in that year, over the southern route, to Los Angeles. They later moved to Merced,  then Stockton, where he lived for many years and operated the San Joaquin Hotel.

San Joaquin Hotel, Stockton, circa 1875. University of the Pacific Library.

In 1905 he moved to Boyes Hot Springs. There he invested in real estate and built many cottages for the summer trade. His cottages were equipped with “all the modern improvement, including electric lights, water, and sleeping porches,” according to a brochure.

His original restaurant (“meals at all hours”) was located at the corner of Central Avenue and the “Santa Rosa-Sonoma Road,” where the old fire station (Voltaire Electric) now stands.

The sign next to the entry arch for Woodleaf Park advertises Minges “Summer and Winter cottages”. circa 1910. Courtesy of Lloyd Cripps.

In 1922 Minges, as president of the Boyes Springs New Improvement Club, presided over a gala Mayday carnival, which featured a parade, athletics, an airplane exhibition, and a carnival ball.

Most of his property burned in the great fire of 1923, but he started to rebuild immediately. “Boyes will rise from the ashes again,” he said in the Index Tribune. “Fire cannot rob us of our mineral springs, our climate and the whole-souled people who abide here. No siree!”

He was such a booster of Boyes Springs that he was often called its “mayor” in the Index Tribune.

 Minges died in 1931 in Oakland.


UPDATE/AFTERTHOUGHT

This “auto court” at the corner of Highlands and Vallejo could have been built by Minges after the 1923 fire. Almost certainly it is not a fire survivor. The present-day Vallejo Ave. enters the Highway right at the site of the Arch (see map).


Photos  from author’s collection. Map courtesy Phil Danskin. Index Tribune courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People, Place Names/Street Names

The Larsons of Boyes Hot Springs

Keller’s opened in 1938. Photo by Art-Ray

In April of 1939 the Index Tribune reported “The Larson brothers of Hopland have leased “Keller’s” at Boyes Hot Springs.” The Larson family, including Oscar’s wife Ophelia, came to California from Wisconsin around 1939.

Oscar Larson  promptly changed “Keller’s” to the C.O.G. Club, for Cal, Oscar and Gary Larson. The club was located near the corner of Vallejo St. and Sonoma Highway in the current Barking Dog Roaster space. 

In 1942 they celebrated the fourth anniversary of the club with a Swedish smorgasbord.

Also in 1939, they bought a stucco house on property near the corner of Verde Vista and Arroyo Rd. in Boyes Hot Springs. The house was known by neighbors as “Larson’s Villa,” and by the Larson family as “Valhalla.” The house still stands in 2021, though the land was sold and subdivided in 1989 and new houses were built. The original stone walls and pillars, some fairly recently restored, still grace the street, and continue to cause curiosity. Other stone work has not survived.

Larson family members called this the “Sonoma Star.”
Entrance to “Larson Villa,” 1942. These gate pillars still stand.

Gary Larson via email, 2018:

I remember the house well. We visited it as late as 1989 and held a small family reunion there right before they sold it. I believe an article was written in the local paper. I will never forget as kids playing in the canals (See Lily Creek!) that ran under the driveway and the beautiful stone star at the bottom of the hill. There was one big tree that was on the edge of the property that they told us was a redwood. Ophelia’s home was warm. She played piano.

“MoMo” Larson with Gary and Danette Larson.

There was a bar in the corner of the living room for entertainment. There was a grill and huge outside patio and an apartment in the back. She always had a closet full of toys for us kids. We has a wonderful Christmas there one year in the 1960s.

Dad would put us to work raking and cleaning the yard when we would come to visit. Oh to be able to go back and visit my grandmother as an adult…I would have so much fun listening to the stories of their lives.


In 1949 Oscar and Ophelia Larson sold the club to Denny Coleman to concentrate on running  Larson’s Sporting Goods and Liquor store, which he had opened in 1945, next door to the club.

Oscar Larson was very involved in civic groups. In 1943 he was elected president of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce. Other board members included luminaries whose names are still known in the Valley: Rudy Licthenberg, Dr. Andrews, Vic Leveroni, I.S. Shainsky, and John Dowdall.

In 1945 the Valley of the Moon Recreation District was formed. Oscar Larson was appointed to establish the district. In 1951 the district acquired four acres along Sonoma Creek in Fetters Hot Springs for development as a park.  In 1955 the Lion’s Club erected a concrete block building for park use.

Larson Park building at the time of its dedication, 1955.

In 1959, what had been known as “Park #1,” was officially named Larson Park to honor Oscar Larson, who died in May of that year.


Iris Larson, Gary’s mother, 92 years old in 2019, told me via phone that Oscar bought war surplus houses from Mare Island and brought them to BHS. He installed them on lots he owned on Second Avenue. Some he joined together or stacked.

House on Second Avenue, Boyes Hot Springs, possibly brought from Mare Island by Oscar Larson.

UPDATE: The Larson stonework in 2021.

Photographs courtesy of Gary Larson and author’s collection. Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People

Marion Greene

Update: please also see https://springsmuseum.org/2018/11/07/the-woodleaf-store-big-three/ for the post about the Woodleaf Store.

Film magnates, fatal accidents and paved (!) highways share space with the beginning of Marion Greene’s career as postmaster.  (Stay tuned for the story about the film magnates.) And, yes, they called it the “Springs” in 1923.

Marion Greene was a businesswomen of Boyes Hot Springs in the mid-twentieth century.  Many women were prominent in business around this time. Mary  Fazio of Mary’s Pizza Shack, Pine Wagner, the pharmacist,  and Jerry Casson were her contemporaries. Emma Fetters was a few years earlier, Juanita Musson a bit later. In 1947 she became a founding member of the Sonoma Valley business and Professional Women’s club. 75 women attend the first meeting.

In November of 1923, Marion Lovett Greene, proprietor of the Woodleaf Store, was appointed acting post master of the Boyes Hot Springs post office and was waiting to take the exam to qualify as the permanent post master.  There as quite a bit of competition for the job among local grocers, the Index Tribune noted. ”Postage stamp sales lead to pork-and-bean sales and love letter inquiries increase pickles sales, so naturally the store keepers want to serve Uncle Sam’s patrons, even if the salary of post master itself is not very remunerative.”  She did become the regular post master and stayed in the job until at least 1939.

Marion Greene in 1925, in her original Woodleaf Market.

Her Woodleaf store was in the Kellar building in 1932, we are told. The same year she move “across the street” to the Putnam building, which presumably was the building at the corner of Boyes Blvd and Sonoma highway,  where the Woodleaf Store stayed as it later became the Big Three. In 1938 Ms. Greene was appointed the Greyhound Bus agent for the Springs as well.

Woodleaf Store, 1930s.
The Woodleaf in 1956, after Ms. Green’s tenure.

The interior of the Woodleaf Store in 1956. This would be in the Big Three building on the corner of Hwy 12 and Boyes Blvd. Mrs. Greene was no longer owner, but she would have approved of the modern appointments.

Mrs. Greene served as president of the Sonoma County Grocers Association and the state association, and was active in the California Post Masters Association.

She was named Outstanding citizen of the year 1948  by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 1949, as chair of the Travel and Recreation Committee, she spearheaded the effort to establish the Valley of the Moon Scenic Route along Highway 12. As part of her duties with the Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Greene appeared on Paul Marcucci’s radio show, broadcast from his resort.

Marion Greene, left, with Paul Marcucci, at Paul’s Resort, 1950s. Courtesy of Eve Marcucci. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/12/28/pauls-resort/

Marion Greene built two houses in Boyes Hot Springs in  the 1940s. In 2019 Marion’s grand- daughter came to Boyes Hot Springs to sell the houses that her grandmother built and gave us a tour. The interiors were all Ms. Greene’s design, and quite charming, featuring custom cabinets and many built-ins.

One of the houses was cited in the 1994 Design Guidelines for the Redevelopment Project for showing “eclectic charm” .

An artifact found in the out-buildings attested to Ms. Greene’s involvement with local development and business.

In 1949 local boosters celebrated the “centennial” of Boyes Hot Springs. This is puzzling since Captain Boyes did not arrive until 1885, however, they were dating from the arrival of T.M. Leavenworth, who bought hundreds of acres in the Rancho Agua Caliente from Vallejo in 1849. See Leavenworth’s House.

The commemorative tie features the image of a mule because that was the mascot of Boyes Springs at the time. Mules live long lives, but it’s doubtful Peskie was still there in 1949.

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Photographs by author and from author’s collection.

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El Verano, History, mid-century, People, Resorts

Dutil/French Cottages/Verdier’s

The “French Colony” of Sonoma Valley included the Dutil, Lounibos, and Verdier families. The Lounibos’ arrived from France in 1873, the Dutils and Verdiers in 1893. (A different Verdier family came from France to San Francisco in 1850. They founded the City of Paris department store.)

By 1900 Jean and Anna Dutil were running a boarding house in El Verano, and improving it. “J. Dutil received a carload of lumber here Monday with which he will build a five room annex to his private boarding house in this place,”  wrote the Index Tribune.  After construction was complete, “Doc Wilson is painting J. Dutil’s villa. The colors are red white and blue.”

In 1902 “Mons J. Dutil, mine host of the French Cottage [as it was now called] will commence the erection of a large hotel in this place in a few days.”

Mrs. Anna Dutil died in 1943. According to the IT, she was 80 years old and came from Lyon France “fifity years ago,” ie, 1893.  “she and her husband founded the French Cottage, one Sonoma Valley’s first summer resorts, now Verdier’s.”

Post marked 1912.

According to historian Joan Lounibos, the Verdiers, Paul and his wife, worked for the Dutils at the boarding house, and, by 1922, they were the proprietors. “Mr. and Mrs. P. Verdier of the popular resort, the French Cottage, are making many improvements about the grounds, laying out beautiful gardens, painting the different buildings and getting ready for the coming season.”

By 1929, the resort was called Verdier’s. In the spring of that year, the Young Ladies Institute “enjoyed a bounteous repast at Verdier’s French cottage. The tables were beautifully decorated with daffodils and smilax, and the menu was elaborate, with chicken, ravioli and French pastry.”

1930s

1939-Paul Verdier makes more improvements

Paul Verdier died in 1945. His daughter and her husband, John Piro, take over and manage the resort until 1962. During this period, the resort was extensively photographed by Zan Stark. Several elaborate brochures were produced also.

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Architecture, Fetters Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People

From Tripp’s to El Brinquito

The store at the corner of Highway 12 and Depot Road in Fetters Hot Springs has been important in that community since at least the 1950s. Fetters Food Mart is first mentioned in the Index Tribune in 1952. The owner at that time is not mentioned, but we know that changed in 1956 when Mr. and Mrs. Roger Cleland sold to Mr. and Mrs. Victor Frolich, “formerly of Lodi.”

In 1963 the Tripp family took over.

 

Sharon Williams via Facebook: “This great photo was in the Our Supporter’s section of the 1965 El Padre. It is Tripp’s Corner Grocery, on Hwy 12, and we have Shirleen (Tripp) Perry (class 1966,) her brothers, plus Robin Dodson (1966) holding the dog.” (Cecil Tripp, owner, is at right.) The Nasso’s building can be seen in the background.

In February, 1966 the Index Tribune informs “the store is now operated by Mrs. Fena Parise, of Santa Rosa.”

“Opposite Nasso’s Gift House”

And in June 1967, “George Raby has taken over the former Fena’s Grocery at 17380 Sonoma Hwy., Fetters Springs. To be known as George’s Grocery, the store is on the corner of the road that goes down to Flowery School and is directly opposite Mountain Avenue. Raby formerly operated a grocery store in Boyes Springs and prior to that had one at Hooker Oaks.”



From the 1980s until 2005 it was known as Mike’s Market.

2005 First mention of El Brinquito. Photo 2008, Nasso’s building still standing.
Photo 2008

Rico Martin’s whimsical albeit controversial designs were introduced in 2015.

The Nasso’s building was replaced by the Vialetti family’s new structure, which was completed in 2019.

Bonus: Nasso’s ad from 1963

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

Photographs by author. Yearbook photo from the “You Know you’re From Sonoma When” Facebook page.

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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.

Page 6

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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…”

Page 111959052800010200-2.pdf

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.”

Page 181959052800017200-1.pdf

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

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Art, Boyes Hot Springs, People, Photographs

Wing Young Huie

“My intent is to reveal not only what is hidden, but also what is plainly visible and seldom noticed.”

The Springs Museum concerns itself with “History, Art and Community.” Art has been somewhat neglected until now. Wing Young Huie is not a resident of the Springs, but the art he created here constitutes an important document of the place. It is an artistic achievement and a historical archive of Boyes Hot Springs in 2007.

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“I am the youngest of six and the only one in my family not born in China. For most of my life I’ve looked at my own Chinese-ness through a white, middle-class prism. Growing up in Duluth, Minnesota made it easy. After all, I was weaned on Snoopy, Mary Tyler Moore, and the Vikings. Mom made me pray to Buddha every New Year, but it was Jesus Christ Superstar who became my cultural touchstone. The result was that sometimes my own parents seemed exotic and even foreign to me.

They also were my first photographic subjects. I was twenty and living at home, experimenting with my new Minolta camera, when I made the first exposures of my dad in the kitchen. It was strange and exhilarating to look at someone so familiar so intently, and see something new. Now, some thirty years and hundreds of thousands of exposures later, I’m still trying to look at the world anew.

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Inside the Springs follows my many projects that attempt to reflect the dizzying mixture of socioeconomic and ethnic realities that encompass our changing cultural landscape. My first major exhibition in 1996 focused on Frogtown, a St. Paul neighborhood plagued with a dubious reputation driven in part by media stories. I spent two years photographing the complexities and mystery behind those headlines.

I continue to focus on submerged communities that exist on the periphery of the prevailing cultural radar. My intent is to reveal not only what is hidden, but also what is plainly visible and seldom noticed.

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I had never been to The Springs or Sonoma prior to my residency through the Sonoma Community Center. At the invitation of Shelly Willis, the former Artistic Director of the SCC, I spent one month photographing Boyes Hot Springs in October 2007. The process of photographing and interacting with people has remained, for the most part, the same since I photographed my own neighborhood in Duluth. I simply walk around, encountering people on the street, who then suggest or introduce others to photograph.

In this manner I meandered through the crooks and alleys of The Springs, photographing hundreds of citizens going about their daily lives. To describe a few: barbequing chickens, harvesting grapes at dawn, waiting for the school bus, a job, a blessing, a taco, dancing in the driveway, singing, jogging, mourning, celebrating, taking communion and pictures, aerobically swimming, tasting coffee and sweating communally.

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It’s difficult to sum up what I saw or learned. I photographed a fraction of what is there, but I feel I saw a lot. Sometimes I get asked what is the purpose of what I do and I’m never sure how to answer. In a way, making those first photographs of my dad may have been one of the most intimate things I ever did with a man who was not easy to know. Maybe that’s the reason.

There were many who helped me along the way, including Mario Castillo and the Vineyard Workers Services, Libby Hodgson, manager of the Barking Dog, Eric Holman, Abdul and Celeste Winders, formerly of the Valley of the Moon Teen Center, Juanita Brinkley, Tarja Beck and the Finnish American Heritage Association, Ellen LaBruce and the La Luz Center, Martha Parra, Ross Drulis Cusenbery Architects, and all the folks at the Sonoma Community Center.”

www.wingyounghuie.com

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El Verano, Entertainment, mid-century, People, Resorts

Paul’s Resort

Paul'sBrochurecover

PaulsPostcard

After the main building burned in 2013, the Press Democrat reported, “The resort was built in 1908 at the El Verano rail station 20 years after the Santa Rosa-Carquinez Railroad opened the way for visitors from San Francisco and elsewhere,”. Actually, the location was the Verano rail station. The El Verano depot was across Sonoma Creek. Two competing railroads served the valley at that time. (See map), the Northwest Pacific and the Southern Pacific.

PaulsLocationQuadMap

As there were two depots with the word Verano in their names, so there were two Pauls.; Paul Vannuchi founded the resort in 1908. Paul Marcuchi bought it in 1944.

As was common, Paul Vannuchi ran afoul of Prohibition laws. In 1920 he was accussed of conspiracy. At the time, he was also the propietor, with one J. Foppiano, of a roadhouse near San Bruno.

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You have to love the headline.

In 2016 we sat down with Eve Marcucci and her daughter Yvonne Marcucci Thibault to record some of their memories. As we talked, we paged through one of the many scrapbooks Eve kept of the resort and Paul’s career.

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Eve Marccuci in 1962

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Your host, “Dad” Marcucci.

Paul’s father, Paul Sr. (“your host” according to the flyer) was also a musician; he played the mandolin. The Marcuccis emigrated from Lucca, Italy around 1900. One branch of the family went to Argentina. We see some photos of them in the scrap book. Paul left home in Ohio at the age of sixteen with a band he formed. They toured the country backing a female impersonator who was popular at the time. Drag shows were a staple of the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Paul in his vaudeville days.

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Paul and female impersonators, 1920s

According to Eve and Yvonne, Paul’s Resort was place of laughter and good times, and the leader and instigator of the fun was Paul.

Paul and his pals, including Pete Mancuso, sang, played and performed skits in the dining room of the resort, where there was a stage.

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Paul and Pete Mancuso, center, merged their businesses some time in the 1950s. The photo shows their “shotgun wedding.”

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Paul played electric organ and the trumpet at the same time. Some times the revelries were broadcast on radio from that stage on station KVON. Yvonne recalls that, as a child, her parents would put her on a bar stool, so they always knew where she was.

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Paul certainly was a man of many talents. According to Eve, “Dad built the pool. He became a licensed contractor to get work done on the resort faster.” He was also a well known music teacher who worked for the public schools and taught privately. During WW2 he served in the Navy as a musician, and wrote the patriotic songs “Remember Pearl Harbor” and “Win the War in 44.” His coauthor on the former was Aub Brandon of Santa Rosa. According to the Healdsburg Tribune, the song was written in one hour. It was released on December 18, 1941, just twelve days after the cataclysmic Japanese bombing raid.

On top of all that, he became the manager of a young singer from Marin County by the name of Clairette Clemintino. Paul’s daughter Yvonne remembers trips to Los Angeles with her dad and Clairette, for recording sessions and publicity events. The scrap books contain photos of Yvonne with the likes of Danny Thomas, Chubby Checker and Shelly Fabre. Clairette’s career is documented at the website www.girlgroups.com.

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Clairette Clementino appearing with Gypsy Boots! “Hollywood talent scouts will be present.”

Paul died in 1981

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In the 1980s the main building of the resort became a Moose Lodge.

In the 1984 Historic Property Survey Report, prepared by architect Dan Peterson for the Redevelopment Agency, the resort is listed as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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As mentioned above, the main building burned in 2013, much to the dismay of the Marcucci family and a community that continues to have warm memories of the resort.

More images from Paul’s Resort:

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Sonoma County Fair “Hillbilly Band” 1933

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Paul used the stage name Paul Marc

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Paul Marc and his Jail Birds. City unknown.

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All photos courtesy of the Marcucci family.

Sonoma Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

 

 

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