This is the key historic building still standing in Agua Caliente. Apparently undergoing demolition-by-neglect, it has, in August 2018, gotten a set of new windows and a paint job. We can only hope that the structure behind the stucco still has integrity.
In the days of Liexner’s Resort.
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.
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.
Courtesy 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).
From the 1948 National Geographic article on “Hap Arnold’s Valley of the Moon.”
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.
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.
The Rozarios sold the resort to Carl Innskeep and Joe La Rango in 1955.
It later became known as the El Verano Inn.
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.
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.