Hansen House’s Future Looks Promising

Since 1997 I've advocated for the preservation of the Hansen House at 718 North McDowell Blvd. The first time I learned of the house was when a developer proposed demolishing the house and replacing it with a medical office building. At the time I was working for the City of Petaluma Planning Department (when they still had one) and was asked to evaluate the property for its signifance. I did a fair amount of research and discovered that the house was associated with Anna Marie and Hans Hansen, Danish immigrants who came to the United States in May of 1903 aboard the "S.S. Ultonia".

The first stop on the West Coast was Los Angeles. From there they headed north to Fresno and finally Petaluma.

Anna Marie and Hans located temporarily in a house on Bridge Street and Main Street (now Lakeville Road and Petaluma Boulevard North). Shortly after that they moved to Sunnyslope Avenue and by 1906, with help from Anna's family, the Iversens, the house on North McDowell was constructed. An interesting feature of the house is the integrated tank house.

According to a history of the Iver-Joergensen family that we have here at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library, Anna Iverson was born August 27, 1865, in Gamst Vestermark, Denmark and married Hans Hansen in December 21, 1886. They had eight children, but only six lived to adulthood: Christine, Marinus, Thorwald, Hans, Jr., Tony and Joe. The family engaged in chicken ranching and Anna served as a midwife to many in the community including Emma Sonksen who was born in the Hansen House in 1911. Emma died in 2001, but up until at least 1997 she was living across the street from the Hansen House in the Capri Creek Mobile Home Park.

Although approved, the medical office project never occured. Several other proposals came up over the years – each time the first priority for the developer was demolition. After the Historic and Cultural Preservation committee determined that the house had historic significance, a residential developer proposed moving the house, but before the details could be worked about the house mysteriously caught on fire. Within a few days that developer was in the Planning Department requesting a demolition permit which was denied.

Years have gone by and it looked as though the house would go the way of so many others – demolition by neglect, but then last night at the City of Petaluma Planning Commission meeting a vote was taken to recommend to the City Council that the house be officially designated a local landmark. The Commissioners approved a development proposal by Hugh Futrell to rehabiliate the house in place and construct eight single family dwellings and 13 duplexes that are modest in price and size - on the property that are designed in a manner that respects the historic character of the Hansen House. It's a happy day for preservationists in Petaluma. Let's make sure this project get's our support as it moves forward.

About Katherine J. Rinehart

Katherine J. Rinehart received a MA in History from Sonoma State University in 1994. For the past 19 years, Ms. Rinehart has worked in various positions within the fields of Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation and is currently employed by the Sonoma County Library where she has worked in the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Department since 2002. Katherine is the author of Petaluma: A History in Architecture, a contributor to Celebrating Petaluma published by the Petaluma Sesquicentennial Committee and the Petaluma Visitors Program. Ms. Rinehart is an occasional contributor to the Press Democrat and is proud to be a Petaluma Good Egg.
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