Fences and trees: they have conversations, disputes, collaborations. Time is involved.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just south of the Sonoma Mission Inn, on the west side of Highway 12, Sierra Drive intersects.
At that corner stands one of our landmark oak trees. The tree is in front of the building that now houses Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road (more on that later), was renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former NWPRR right-of-way (the tracks were removed in 1942).
Our tree is a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata. According to the California Native Plant Society (http://calscape.org/), the Valley Oak ranges over the interior valleys of the State, and needs to be near a source of water (Lily Creek*, which flows down Arroyo Road, tunnels under the highway very near the tree.) It can grow to 100’ in height and live for as many as 500 years. The tree in question, which has three trunks, certainly could be 100 years old. We have a photograph of the tree (and building) from 1973, which shows it to be in pretty poor shape. In 2018 it appears to be much healthier.
*Thanks to Greg Larson for the creek name.
1973 top. 2018 bottom. Top photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
The tree may appear in some other historic photos.
Boyes Depot, 1930s, (approximately located in the parking lot behind the Plaza Center Building), looking north to Sonoma Mountain. The oak in the foreground is possibly the Sierra Drive tree.
Photo by Zan Stark, 1950s. The location is opposite Arroyo Road on the Highway.
Oaks are never more beautiful than in winter.
Next post: About Sierra Drive/Meincke Road.
The site at the corner of Vallejo and Highway 12, now in use as the employee parking lot for the Sonoma Mission Inn, has a long history.
This postcard, post marked 1913, shows the entry arch, to Woodleaf Park (in the middle of the lot), which was one of the early subdivisions in Boyes Hot Springs. The sign at left reads “Desirable Summer and Winter Cottages for rent. J. W. Minges.” Minges was a prominent land owner and businessman in early twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs and was often referred to as the “mayor” of Boyes Springs.
This is part of a full page ad (above) from 1925 promoting Boyes Hot Springs. It reads, in part, “In place of the frame building and barber shop that was located next to the original post Office at Boyes, the enterprising business man (Bob Liaros) let the contract for a handsome hollow-tile building with concrete floors and fireproof throughout.”
The view from the 1930s (below) shows the building mentioned above. Lairos was another Boyes booster and long-time business owner. Beyond the Liaros building are the ice plant and Sam Agnew’s service station at Vallejo St.
Liaros sold part of his land to the proprietor of the ice plant.
The building changed hands in 1949.
This article mentions that Jim’s Lunchroom is located in the building. If only we could get the Embalmers to come back! Perhaps they could “frolic?”
The above mentioned variety store, operated at one time by the Polidori family.
The building was demolished as an eyesore in 1992. Progress!?
In 1997, a lone California Bay tree stood on the lot, but it was dying.
The merely functional parking lot in 2008.
Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Stanford University Library Special Collections, and Mr. Lloyd Cripps.
Document describing the land in Woodleaf Park that Bob Liaros bought in 1931, including the ornamental arch.
At the corner of Central and Highlands in Boyes Springs, these trees had been “influencing” the fence for many years, in a wonderful display of found sculpture. In April of 2017, big changes happened.
The trees, which had been menacing the house’s foundation, were removed and a new fence was built. It’s sad to see trees go, but they don’t live forever, just like people.