Personal History, Place Names/Street Names, Wonders and Marvels

Shipley Street

On October 17, 1989, I was sitting in my studio in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, listening to the start of the World Series game taking place about a mile away at Candlestick Park. What came to be known as the Loma Prieta earthquake struck around 5pm.  I ran outside, just what you are NOT supposed to do, to see and feel the ground jumping up and down like I was on a trampoline.  As the concrete building next door developed an alarming crack, I heard someone say “como Ciudad Mexico.” I rushed home to Potrero Hill to find the only damage at our place was three broken wine glasses. Fortunately we had more glasses and a supply of wine.

In December of that year, I was working for a contractor in San Francisco. He got the job of putting a damaged building  at 280 Shipley Street, in the South of Market neighborhood, on a new foundation. Shipley runs from 3rd St. to 6th St. between Harrison and Folsom. Built in 1906, it was a two story place with four flats in it.  

Rumsey Collection

It was a dark and dreary fall and winter in the City. Everything seemed beaten down by the disaster. I had paid a brief visit to Tijuana the year before and I was struck by the polluted air and grime of the Avenida de la Revolution (I’m sure it’s very different now). Mission Street had that feeling to me in December of 1989. Yet I was full of energy and optimism. I had just finished my MFA at San Francisco State and I was beyond excited about making sculpture and having a brilliant career.

At first, the contractor, Dan, put me in the fallen building to erect some bracing to protect against further damage from after shocks. It was freaky being inside it. Everything leaned like the buildings at Confusion Hill, the venerable tourist trap in far northern California.

https://www.confusionhill.com/pictures

Confusion Hill postcards by Zan Stark.

That part of SOMA is built on bay fill, and the streets were bulk-headed and raised (like Pioneer Square in Seattle was in the 1880s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Underground) after the 1906 quake. Because of that, they all had basements, which used to be at street level, and half submerged doors and windows.

I was poking around down there and found some artifacts belonging to a Leslie M.

Some facts about Leslie M.

On Sunday, February 4, 1989, at 12:27AM, Leslie M. was booked for an alleged crime committed at 507 Cole, San Francisco. He was 18 years old at the time. Charges are listed as N/W 11377 H&S, and  11357b H&S.

He was working at a welding shop in SOMA in 1989.

In 1987 his Grandma wrote him from Wyoming expressing her confidence in his abilities.

Sometime between 1985 and 1987, he was arrested in Casper Wy. as part of a meth operation.

Inside the covers of a small address book he wrote the following:

“Party hardy Rock-n-Roll

Drink a fifth and smoke a bowl

Take a toke and make it last

Hope to hell it kicks your ass.

’88 Rules”

and

“what the fuck you doing reading my book asshole.”

and

“Fuck off bitch”

and

“Heavy Metal Rules AC & DC”


After initial bracing, the building was raised using hydraulic jacks and put on cribbing.

This looks a lot like where we worked under 280 Shipley St.

The building was raised and the cribbing placed by a house mover who lived in a compound out by Candlestick Point with a lot of dogs. His face was crisscrossed with scars from the explosion of one of his hydraulic lines, he told us. I only met him once, and that was probably enough.

Peter, the other carpenter, and I and some laborers worked digging out the basement by hand and with a jack hammer. The underside of the building was about ten feet over our heads. Freaky, when aftershocks hit. The design was to put a full height basement under it.

The ground was mostly sand, but when you got down a ways we hit jumbled brick that was dumped there after the ’06 quake. We found a lot of ceramic shards, pieces of glass, and other objects.

We eventually dug down to the little creek that still flowed under that part of SOMA. (Apparently part of Hayes Creek, which flows into Mission Creek.)

Ancient creeks of South of Market

As we dug, we filled five gallon buckets with sand and debris, carried them to the front wall, boosted them up to the sidewalk level, and then into a dumpster. Eventually, through some of the hardest physical labor I’ve ever done,  we got it excavated and filled with crushed rock, compacted, and concrete forms set. I used a builder’s level (for the first time) to level the forms.

Shipley really is an alley, and the back doors of buildings open on to it. Some of these buildings were full of women working at sewing machines. Clouds of industrial fragrance billowed out.

Every day at lunch time I would walk down Shipley to 5th and go to Harvey’s Café. Harvey’s was a famous hangout for bike messengers. Harvey Woo would loan them money or give them credit so they could eat when without funds. He had a big board behind his counter where he kept slips of paper with each person’s account.

Harvey’s Place, 2015

Leslie Guttman, SF Chronicle, September 10, 1989: (Quake: October 17)

“It is Friday night. And, like the rest of San Francisco’s workers, the bike messengers head to their hangout, a grimy South of Market alley off Fifth Street, where their paychecks are cashed by their guardian angel and their dreams of the future have a brilliance that only a Friday night can bring. At least a couple hundred of the city’s approximately 400 bike messengers swarm, like bees to a hive, to Shipley alley, a narrow corridor between Folsom and Harrison streets, to let off steam after a week of dodging double- parked trucks, cars barreling through yellow lights and jay-walking office workers, their faces buried in their watches. Here, next to the alley, lives the man they call the Patron Saint of the Bike Messengers. Harvey Woo is the 49-year-old owner of Harvey’s Place, a little grocery store/lunch counter. In an era of bland chain superstores, Harvey’s is a relic: a first-names-only, family-run joint. As they say in the alley, “If you’re about to starve, you go to Harv.”

Artist’s interpretation of work under 280 Shipley Street. Photo collage on water color paper, water color, 2021. 23″x24″

A dispatch from 2008 via Yelp:

The condos and other new buildings have proliferated on Shipley and all over the City, particularly South of Market, but a few of us remember Harvey’s.

Michael Acker, april 2021

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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, Now and Then, Place Names/Street Names

The Once and Future Boyes Boulevard Bridge

It was a different experience in 1955

On February 17, 1955, the Index Tribune reported

“A $12,987 contract for rebuilding the Boyes boulevard bridge across Sonoma Creek, near the Bath House in Boyes Hot Springs, was awarded by the county supervisors last week…The contractor will use existing abutments and piers for the bridge and will use but relocate existing steel stringer and add a reinforced concrete deck and sidewalks.”

Thursday, March 3, 1955. Work was “in high gear” on the new Boyes Blvd. bridge.The caption notes that motorist will be forced to use “Verano Drive or Santa Rosa Avenue” to cross the creek. Verano Drive is now Verano Blvd. and Santa Rosa Avenue is West Agua Caliente Road.

Work went fast: On April 17th we learn,

“New Boyes Bridge May Open to Traffic This Weekend.”

“Possibility that the brand new bridge across Sonoma Creek at Boyes Boulevard, near the Bath House, will be open to traffic on Saturday was seen this week.

Painting of the new steel barriers and upper portion was completed on Tuesday with only the sand blasting and painting of the steel sections beneath the bridge remaining.

Normally, twenty-one days is allowed for the concrete to set after the deck has been poured. If this procedure were followed, the bridge would not open until next Monday. However, due to the excellent weather and the fact that the Boyes Hot Springs Bath House and facilities will be open for the season on Saturday, this weekend may possibly see the new bridge in use.

The Fred Fedenburg firm of Temple City has been the contractor for the $12,987 project, which was stared the last week of February.”

The work was fast because they did not replace the abutments, unlike the current project for which massive new concrete supports were poured. Still, the end of February to the end of April is rapid!

Fast forward to the year 2000. It was proposed to widen the bridge to three lanes, but neighbors worried about increased traffic.

That project never came to pass.

In December 2020 the County sent this notice informing us of a big step in the construction of the NEW new bridge.

We first learned of the current bridge project in July of 2019, when the Sonoma County Department of Transportation told the Index Tribune that the Boyes Blvd. bridge was “functionally obsolete.”

“The new replacement bridge will comply with current roadway, drainage and bridge standards…; it will not increase vehicular capacity but will provide shoulders for bicycles and a five-foot wide sidewalk for pedestrians” the IT reported.

Engineering work started in 2013. The funds were allocated in July of 2019.

“The entire project is expected to cost $5.13 million, almost 13 percent higher than originally estimated. Additional costs are said to stem from the temporary pedestrian bridge which will also provide a structure for water, gas and electric relocations, and the water systems improvements by the Valley of the Moon Water District (VOMWD).”

“Commencement of construction of the project has been delayed due to, among other things, a lengthy negotiation with a neighboring homeowners’ association in 2018,” said the summary report.

The “other things” causing delay now include a world-wide pandemic and a bad fire season in 2020. Currently the bridge is scheduled to open in July of this year (2021).

The Bridge, looking west, March of 2019
Looking east, 2008

The photos below span November 2019 through April, 2021.

Bonus slideshow of arty construction images! You’re welcome.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names

Pine Avenue

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Pine Avenue is shown on a County recorder’s map “Hotel Grounds Subdivision” which dates to before 1923. On that map there is a canal, starting near the hotel, crossing Boyes Blvd., and running down Pine Avenue. It ends in a large pond adjacent to the entrance of the Bath House. The canal did not exist long, if at all. Photos of the Bath House entrance from the 1920s show no pond.

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The Boyes Bath House in 1910. The end of the canal would have been somehwere at the right. The entrance to the Bath House was on Pine Avenue.

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This pond was in front of the “Old Hotel,” which was located where the Sonoma Mission Inn is today. Possibly the origin of the Pine Avenue canal.

On the fourth of August, 1916, the Boyes Hot Springs corporation, which owned all the land around the hotel which is now the Sonoma Mission Inn, sold lot numbers 155 and 156 (actually on Northside St., parallet to Pine) of the Hotel Grounds subdivision to Mary O. Cookson. She was enjoined by the boiler plate language of the “indenture” (deed) not to drill for water and, in the overt racism typical of the day, not to allow the occupation of the property by “Asiatics or negroes.”

DataTree Order son For User stanley

The signers of the deed for the Corporation were Henry Trevor and R. G. Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg became a proprietor of the Boyes Bath House, and a street is named for him in that vicinity.

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Evergreencottges

The principle resort on Pine Avenue was the Evergreen Cottages, which dates from the early 1920s. The main building, housing a bar know variously as Mary’s or Leo’s was on Pine, but the resort extended to Northside St. In the center of the cottages was an open area said to have been a boxing ring. This is plausible as the training of fighters was common in the Springs in the era before WWII. Louis Parente was well known for hosting workouts at his place in El Verano.

BHSBoxers

In February of 1940 the Index Tribune and dozens of local businesses welcome the San Francisco Seals to the baseball grounds at Boyes Hot Springs for spring training. Among them was Mary’s Evergreen Cottages. Their boxed ad boasted “dancing, sulphur baths swimming.” The baths and swimming were courtesy of the Boyes Bath House at the end of Pine Avenue, and dancing might have been in the large square area in the center of the cottage cluster.

IT1940businessList

On September 16, 1949, William Johnson and Milton Gregor, proprietors of the Boyes Bath House, leased Leo’s Evergreen to Thomas Mayhew and Celanire Mayhew. The Mayhews gave notice, the same day, that they would engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages at the Evergreen.

In April of 1951, Ruby Coronas bought the Evergreen Resort from Johnson and Greger.In 1955 she celebrated the fourth anniversary with an ad in the IT.

. EvergreenAd1955

Joe, a native of Spain, died in Sonoma in 1971. Ruby died the same year, in Colusa.

In May of 1954, the Jack London Lodge of the American Legion hosted a candidates night at the Evergreen Resort. “Post commander Ed Reedy said that all candidates for federal, state, and county offices had been invited to be present, and that “most of them” had signified they will attend…” According to a June 3rd article in the IT, some of the candidates were Charles E. Greenfield, for state senator, 12th district, Oscar Larson for a Republican central committee post, and James J. Manning, of Boyes Hot Springs, unopposed for constable in the Sonoma judicial district. (Do we still have a constable?) Interestingly, among the polling places was Perkin’s Memorial Hall on Agua Caliente Rd., location unknown today. The Verano East polling place is listed as the Grange Hall on Highway 12, showing how notions of the boundaries between communities shifted over time as the (former) Grange Hall is now considered to be in Boyes Hot Springs. Archaic places names that had polling places included Cooper, Eaton, and San Luis.

The resort was for sale in 1996 for $449,000. It was said to be in “part of the up and coming area of Boyes Hot Springs.”EvergreeRealtyAd1996

Another resort on Pine was the Golden Oaks, which was on the corner of Pine and Northside, or Pine and Gregor, depending on which source you chose. In a 1968 article the Index Tribune gave the address as 130 Pine, which would put it at the Gregor end.

The first mention of the resort in the IT is in 1932. From 1938 to 1950 a Mr. and Mrs. Zinkulsen owned and operated it. In 1950 they sold to Bertha I. Donnelson. In the notice of the transaction the Golden Oaks was said to consist of eleven cottages and an owner’s residence.

Crime on Pine

Apparently Pine Avenue was a rough place in 1950. Around 11PM on September 8 of that year a street brawl broke out between seven young men, according to the IT headline. However, in the story it turned out that twelve youths were arrested and three were in the hospital, one with his “belly cut open.” He survived.PineAveBrawl1950.2

16 Pine Avenue was an interesting looking building. Apparently a store, it was in use as a residence up to 2009. It was boarded up in 2010 and demolished in 2019. In 1969, the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development was contacted by Boyes Springs Resort owner Luis Vela about a redevelopment program for the Springs. According to the IT, “Vela said he had conferred with HUD officials and others from San Francisco on the Boyes redevelopment plan. Preliminary proposals set this up on a three-stage basis. The first area to be upgraded under such a pilot project, said Vela, might be the section between the creek and Highway 12…”

16PineAve1969Photos

These photos, courtesy of Sonoma County Library, show an area, Pine Avenue, that could be included in the project. 16 Pine Avenue is shown. Redevelopment did no start in earnest until the late 1990s. We got sidewalks and street lights and some improvements to commercial buildings before Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment statewide in 2011. The sidewalk project was completed with county funds in 2016.

In 2004 a new development was built at Pine and Gregor. It consists of nine, small, two story homes plus an older home that was remodeled. Four of the units were meant to be “affordable.” John Bonfini was the developer. I believe the Bonfini development was built on the Golden Oaks site. Photo of the “older home,” possibly the Golden Oaks owner’s residence.

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Photo collage watercolor by Michael Acker of a section of Pine Ave.

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

 

 

 

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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.)

SonomaHwySpainSt

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

Hwy12CalsitogaSign

At Calistoga Rd. in Santa Rosa.

SantaRosaRd1887

  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.

ProHighway1917

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.

AguaCalienteMapSoCoJeff'sOldMapweb

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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HollywoodInnAd2

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.

Hwy12Celebration1924

 

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names, Trees

The Boyes Hot Springs Plaza

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.”

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The Boyes Hot Springs Plaza palm tree, 1943. courtesy Bruce Greiwe

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Aurthor’s collection

 

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.

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Plaza showing palm tree. The depot had been removed the previous year. Photo courtesy Bob Palmelee.

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.

BoyesSpringsSign

Courtesy Jerry Biers

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.

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The Plaza and palm looking north, 1930s.

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.

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

Sierra Drive/Meincke Road

At the corner of Highway 12 and Sierra Drive stands the building housing Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road, was probably renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way.

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Assessor’s Parcel Map showing Meincke Road/Seirra Drive

On July 15, 1942, a hearing by the Interstate Commerce Commision in Santa Rosa pitted the War Department and the Southern Pacific Company against the Sonoma Valley Chanber of Commerce, Sonoma State Hospital, and the Sonoma Vista Improvement Club in a debate about whether the rail line between Sonoma and Glen Ellen should be abandoned (passenger service had ended in 1935). The Feds claimed that the line was not needed for the war effort as almost all frieght was brought into the valley by truck, and the SP pointed out that the line had lost money for years. However, Dr. Fred Bultler of the State Home said that his institution had been designated the main hospital for the region should a coastal evacuation be necessary. The Home had been mandated to provide 500 beds on two hours notice and that the rail connection would be required to supply this additional population. The Home had 3200 “inmates”, as he called them, and 450 employees at the time.

Southern Pacific prevailed, however, and by January of 1943, the rails were gone, freeing the stretch between the Mission Inn and West Thomson Ave. to become a road.

The street was probably originally named for George Meincke, a school bus driver, chauffer for the Spreckles family, fire commissioner, and local property owner. However, two other Meinckes were prominent enough in the Springs, midcentury and before, to also be the namesake: Charles Meincke and H. Meincke.

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George Miencke with fellow Fire Commissioners at a fire station open house in 1954.

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Interestingly, the obituaries for George Meincke and Edith Waterman appeared next to each other in the January 30, 1969 edition of the IT. Both had streets named for them, or their family in Ms. Waterman’s case. The Waterman family goes back a little farther than Miencke’s. Her obit notes that “When she and her parents first started coming to this area many years ago, they were guests of Capt. H. E. Boyes…”

The Boyes Hot Springs Company was incorporated in 1902, with August Waterman as one of the directors.

 

Sierra Bank

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A very low key announcement of the proposed name change appeared in the IT in March of 1965.

Sierra Bank first opened in a storefront on Highway 12 in 1964. The address was 18006, now a liquor store (2018). It was front-page news in the Index Tribune. This was the first bank to open in Sonoma Valley outside of the town of Sonoma.

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The new bank building was also a major project for Boyes Hot Springs in 1965 when it was announced.

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Among the luminaries attending the groundbreaking were Bud Castner, and Tom Polidori, prominent Springs businessmen. (Notice the article at bottom left. In 1965 they were fund raising for a new swimming pool.)

 

 

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History, Place Names/Street Names

Valley of the Moon Map, 1962

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