In June of 1945, Bob and Edith Lanning were granted a license to sell alcoholic beverages at their B&E Café in Boyes Hot Springs. By 1949 they had changed the name to The Resort Club.
Bob Lanning was also a photographer. Many of his photos appeared in the pages of the Index Tribune.
Bob was elected to the board of the Valley of the Moon Water district in the 1960s, but his activity on water issues started earlier.
Edith was active in the Sonoma Valley Grange for decades.
In 1965 the Lannings sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Leonard F. Bruhn. After selling the club, Bob opened Bob’s Fixit Shop in building on the same property.
In 1969, Pete Mancuso took over and opened his Melody Club.
Pete retired in 1983. He sold the club to Doug Graham, but it didn’t last long after that. Lanning Construction moved in in 1984.
“In 1984 Lanning Structures (Dean Lanning) converted the Melody Club into offices a while after Pete closed. Lanning Structures closed in 1996 and Steve Lanning Construction took over the offices. Both metal buildiing contractors, Father and Son.” Winnie Lanning (married to Dean Lanning), 2019, via email.
Dean Lanning died in 2006.
Bob Lanning died in 1995, Edith in 2013.
Lanning Structures, 2001, 2008, and 2009.
After the demolition, 2019.
Index Tribune and Grange photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Other photos by author and from author’s collection.
The history of railroads in Sonoma Valley is complicated and confusing. It started in the 1860s and included at least 15 different companies, but by 1889 there we just two: the Santa Rosa and North Pacific, and the Northern Railway. The SR and NP became the Northwestern Pacific in 1907, and Southern Pacific subsumed the Northern in 1898. The NWP tracks were on the east side of Sonoma Creek, with a depot in Boyes Hot Springs, and SP on the west, stopping at El Verano. The old rights-of-way can be glimpsed in some places. Sierra Drive in Boyes is one location. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/03/29/sierra-drive-meincke-road/
A precursor to the NWP, the Sonoma Valley Railroad, existed until 1889. In this schedule we see that it visited a stop called Pioneer Grove. This was the name used before Boyes Springs was used.
The railroads served the populace of San Francisco, primarily, who wished to spend warm summer days at the resorts. They came in their thousands by rail. But as early as 1920, the railroads were challenged by bus lines and automobiles. (The “auto-camp,” precursor to the motel, originated in the 1920s.) The Index Tribune reported in 1921 that executives of the NWP were considering new, modern electric cars on the Santa Rosa-San Rafael line to counter the competition from buses. To no avail. In 1930, the Glen Ellen depot was eliminated.
The editorial comment in the IT was prophetic. Rail service was gone by 1942.
Following is a collection of images of depots in Sonoma Valley, with some maps, which are courtesy of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
Southern Pacific depots:
Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paul died in 1981
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.
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:
All photos courtesy of the Marcucci family.
Sonoma Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
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.