History, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Caliente Villa


Courtesy Robert Palmelee

The resort was located on the east side of Sonoma Highway, near the corner of what was then known as Sonoma Avenue, now Marin Avenue. The Agua Caliente post office was reportedly located in one of the resort buildings.


Map courtesy of Jeff Gilbert

In a 1941 article, the Index Tribune located the resort across the road from (the old) Flowery School, which was at the corner of Vailetti Drive.

CalVillaFlowerySchoolScreen Shot 2018-05-18 at 5.38.41 PM


In this alarming article from 1972, the address is listed as 17127 Sonoma Highway.

The founders of Caliente Villa in Agua Caliente are not known, but we do know the resort was owned by A. Nevraumont by 1917. Nevraumont was an early resort owner in El Verano, having established El Verano Villa before the turn of the 20th century.




”My Great Uncle Joe Costa and My Great Uncle SFPD Officer Joe O’Rourke – Early 1930’s…Great Shot of Caliente Villa – Behind Them.” Jeff Gilbert via Facebook.

In 1923 the buildings changed hands.CalVilla1923Changeshands

CalienteVillaAdCourtesy Lynn Downey

In fact, the Villa went through many owners and managers. In 1920 Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were in charge. They…”have leased the (resort) and will conduct the popular springs resort on the apartment plan…” Along with “modern conveniences and comforts,” the new proprietors would provide “a long distance phone” and a “classy jazz orchestra!”

That same year, Lewis and Ross entertained “twenty four members of the Salt Lake City baseball team…Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were assisted by a number of young ladies…There was dancing, music and card playing…” and “everything was complimentary, including the smokes, and the boys report a swell time.”


Courtesy California State Library

Jack Valente (his name is seen under Caliente Villa in the sign) ran the resort as of 1940. The term “auto camp,” however, was in use at least from the early 1920s. Automobile tourism in Sonoma Valley started before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Note the dormers on the three buildings shown in the photo.

Several of the buildings were in existence in 1984 when Dan Peterson made his Historic Resource report for Redevelopment.




The development proposal in 1986 probably resulted in the demolition of 17127, and it looks like the 20 multifamily units were indeed built.

17101 was still there in 2008.



In 2018 only one survives (17123).

17111 Sonoma Hwy - Google Maps



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 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.


ParenteAlternateweb copyParente3

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



History, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Images of America, The Springs:Resort Towns of Sonoma Valley


Michael Acker’s book will be out on March 27. There will be a book signing at Reader’s Books in Sonoma on March 30, 7PM. Other events to follow including one at the Depot Park Museum, date TBD.

The book features 210 photographs of the Springs from 1885 to 2016. Part history, part nostalgia, part pride of place in the here and now, it is sure to interest and delight residents, visitors, and the curious alike.

Buy it here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467124300


El Verano, History, Resorts, Uncategorized

Crane’s Hotel/Our Resort/McNeilly’s

First, the confusion.

There was a Crane’s Hotel, and a Crane’s Sanitarium. Cranes Hotel was at the corner of Willow and Verano Avenue, and existed as early as 1908, according to an advertisement in the Press Democrat. Crane’s Sanitarium was “between Boyes Hot Springs and El Verano,” according to an ad they placed in the Index Tribune in 1921, and “Near Verano Station, between Boyes Hot Springs and Sonoma City. Just off the highway,” according to a tourist guidebook from around 1920.

Crane’s Sanitarium was the precursor to Sonoma Valley Hospital (Please see http://www.svh.com/the-evolution-of-sonoma-valley-hospital/.) Crane’s Hotel became Our Resort, then McNeilly’s Tavern. The two establishments, the sanitarium and the resort, were not one and the same.cranesshotelcraneshoteltrees1912Post marked 1912.

An Index Tribune archive search does not turn up much for Crane’s Hotel. The span of years between the first and last mention of Crane’s Hotel is 1908-1916. It became Our Resort sometime after 1916. Rose Pensar is listed as owner in 1924 and mentioned in 1938 as being “of Our Resort.” There is a 1924 Oakland Tribune ad for Our Resort.pressdemo1908craneshotel oaklandtrib1916craneshotelourresortoaklandtrib1924ourresort2webourresort1web

Baseball was very important in Sonoma Valley for many years. In May of 1935, Our Resort hosted The Greyhounds team from San Francisco. In later years, the resort sponsored a softball team that won many local championships.ourresortchampions

Notice that the ad says “Just West of the New Bridge.” The new bridge on Verano Avenue opened on September 17, 1950. The map shows the location of the old bridge and, at the time, proposed new one. After the new bridge was completed, the county tried to sell the old steel trusses, but there were no takers.oldevbridgemapelveranobridge

McNeilly’s opened in February, 1981, with a “new 25 inch color TV,” according to the Index Tribune. The pool table was replaced by a Space Invaders game. The Tavern was still in business, and still sponsoring sports teams, into the 2000s.After it closed, the building was vacant and derelict, and seemed headed for demolition. But, early in 2017, new owners had a new foundation installed, and it appears the structure will be saved, if not “restored.” Tearing off the siding revealed the old “Our Resort” sign. Perhaps that can be preserved as a memorial to the history of the building and the days of the resorts.ourresort2017February 2017


Architecture, History, Jewish History, Now and Then, Resorts, Uncategorized

Rosenthal’s Resort, Part Two

We left off with Selig Rosenthal’s death in 1938. But the story of Rosenthal’s Resort did not end there.doraswedding1939In June of 1939, Dora Rosenthal married Joe Winters, a well-known local tailor.

it1938wintersfirstmentionadwintersoldshop1956Joe 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. it1939wintersrodeophoto


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.winterspolish

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.


rosenthalstore-thaiPhoto 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:rosenthalchickencoopThe chicken coop. Poultry husbandry was common and popular in the Springs in the early 20th Century.rosenthaltankhouse

The resort was served by a well. The water was stored in the tank house, which is a residence today.rosenthallasalletteThis 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? grangehall1930swebgrange2008mural2012web

The Grange Hall in the 1930s, 2008, and 2012.

History, Jewish History, Resorts, Uncategorized

Rosenthal’s Resort, Cantor’s Resort, and Acacia Grove. Part One


There would be no reason for many people today to know the name Selig Rosenthal. I came across it because, as a Grange member, I got to look at the organization’s archives and saw the property plat. It didn’t take much digging to reveal the outlines of an interesting story, or several stories, one with a tragic ending. What spurred me to write was a conversation and walk around the property with its current owner, George Weiler, with whom I share an interest in the history of the site.

Dear Reader, please indulge me as I refine my style and methods in writing these articles. In the following I purposefully followed several digressions that begged for more information. This is interesting for me, but may make for pieces that are too long or hard to follow. If so, I apologize.

Rosenthal’s Resort was about ¼ mile south of the Boyes Springs depot, on the highway, on land bounded on the south by Agua Calliente Creek. In 2016 the property encompasses Acacia Grove Mobile Home park, E-Saan Thai restaurant, the old La Salette restaurant building, and surrounds the Sonoma Valley Grange property, which was carved out if the land in 1934.rosenthalsmaprosenthalsplot

As the inscription on this plat states, the land was sold to Selig Rosenthal by Nathan Cantor in 1920.

The first mention of Nathan Cantor in the Index Tribune is in 1912 when we learn that “George Grose (sp) is erecting a first class windmill on the Cantor place in Verano.” (Here again notice the flexibility in place names. Cantor was just across Agua Caliente Creek from the Verano depot of the Santa Rosa and Carquinez Railroad, but that locale is frequently called Boyes Hot Springs.)

In 1913 we learn from the I-T that…


The same year…


But in 1917, life was getting more dangerous…


And the resort business could become contentious.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1919, Nathan Cantor got into a “neighborhood feud” with two rival resort keepers, Tommy Farrell and J. Trahan. Cantor said the men attacked him and tore his clothes. His opponents said Cantor’s dog bit them. Cantor swore out a warrant and the assailants went before Judge Small. The results of that hearing were not reported by the Index Tribune.


In February of 1920, Nathan Cantor sold his resort to Dora and Selig Rosenthal.

The Index Tribune noted “the new owners are former popular and prominent residents of the metropolis and will no doubt continue to conduct the well-known resort with great success. Cantor’s Resort is one of the most popular in Sonoma Valley, and is crowded every season. Mr. Cantor and his partner, Jennie Boseck, will go to San Francisco.”

Rosenthal was off to a fast start, improving the resort, building some new cottages, some of which still stand in 2016, and planning a “$10,000 hotel.”



Cottage at the Acacia Grove Mobile home Park, formerly Rosenthal’s Resort, 2016.

By 1922 the improvements at the resort included the new dance hall which had a maple dance floor 36’x 60’. The dance hall building was sold to the Sonoma Valley Grange in 1934. The building still stands, and still has the maple floor.

it1922rosenthallargeadDancing every night to the “four Piece Syncho-Harmony Orchestra!”

Selig Rosenthal became quite involved in the Chamber of Commerce, which was advocating for a road to Petaluma in 1924. He was also prominent in the Sonoma Valley Improvement Club (office said to be located at the corner of State Highway and Park Ave. The building may still stand, though closer to Mountain Ave. and the Highway. See map below.) In 1925 he ran for president of the Boyes Springs contingent.





1956 Chamber of Commerce map (partial) showing Sonoma Valley Improvement Club building near the corner of Mountain Ave. (not Park Ave.) and Hwy 12.

In 1929, Selig Rosenthal was “preparing plans for converting the property into an up to date auto camp,” said the Index Tribune, (calling it the “former resort.”) The ascendancy of the automobile over train travel spurred many resort owners to do the same. In January of 1930, the IT tells us “Rosenthal’s new auto-camp cottages are nearing completion, Stevenson Brothers Sonoma Vista contractors, handling the big job.”

rosenthalautocampad19311931, Index Tribune


Jack Valente’s resort in Agua Caliente, near Marin St. The building no longer exists.

Selig Rosenthal was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Sonoma Valley.In 1932 a group of “Jewish capitalists” from San Francisco And Oakland came to the Valley looking for 100 acres on which to build a “model Jewish city,” to be run as a cooperative. Selig Rosenthal was one of the property owners they talked with. They also placed this ad in the Index Tribune:


jewishcity1More research into the Jewish cooperative movement in the Bay Area is warranted.

Newspaper archive wanderings sometimes produce interesting unexpected results. A short article under the second page ending to the Jewish City piece, appears this, a heart-rending vignette of hard times in 1932:



In March of 1933 Selig and Dora Rosenthal announced their partnership with Harry Lyons, who ran a resort in Sonoma Vista (across the Creek from Boyes Springs), in the opening of “a high-class kosher resort, the only one in California…Mr. Rosenthal states that a benefit will mark the opening of the resort, at which noted Rabbis will speak and to which congresswoman Florence Kahn will be invited.”

Florence Kahn was Congresswoman from the fourth district from 1925 to 1937. She was the first Jewish woman to serve in Congress, and the first woman on the House Military Affairs Committee. A San Francisco resident, she was a frequent visitor to Sonoma Valley. (It is unclear how she could represent the Fourth District, while living in the City, because San Francisco is not in the district.)


The Rosenthal-Lyons partnership lasted all of five months, dissolving in September of 1933.

In April of 1934, the Sonoma Valley Grange bought Rosenthal’s dance hall, an event apparently  overshadowed only by the opening of the Sebastiani Theater, according to the I-T.



In 1934 the Rosenthal’s opened a cafe in San Francisco.it1934rosenthalexchangeslots

In 1935 the Rosenthal’s tried to sell their resort, but the deal fell through.


In March of 1938., Rosenthal came under a doctor’s care.it1938rosenthalill

The beloved Dr. Andrews personally saved the Sonoma Grammar School from demolition and made it available as the home of the Sonoma Community Center. Andrews Hall is named for him.

Then, in June 1938…


According to the Index Tribune, Rosenthal had been in ill health since 1935, and this was cited as the reason for his attempt at suicide. The article says “Rosenthal is recovering,” but, curiously, speaks of him in the past tense in the final paragraph.

Rosenthal succumbed to his illness in December of 1938. He was buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Petaluma.rosenthalobitrosenthalgravemarker

“The B’nai Israel Cemetery and Home of Eternal Peace Interfaith Cemetery aka Petaluma Jewish Cemetery is located within the fenced boundary of Cypress Hill Memorial Park at 430 Magnolia Avenue, Petaluma. The B’nai Isreal cemetery was established in 1871 for the Congregation Society B’nai Israel of Petaluma.”

Courtesy of findagrave.com

To Be Continued…