A Visit to Cypress Hill Memorial Park on Veterans Day 2013

Last Monday I walked to Cypress Hill Memorial Park for no particular reason other than it is a great destination walk and only about a mile and a half from my house.

I enjoy checking out the different styles of tombstones and reading the inscriptions. One of these days I’d like to organize a tour that highlights not only the history of the cemetery and those buried there, but the architecture and symbolism of the grave markers themselves. The Sonoma County Library has a great book on the subject called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written by Douglas Keister that I’d reference.

This tour might include the grave of Albert Frederick Adams which caught my eye on Monday, perhaps because it was Veterans Day.

At first glance one might think that since the year of death on this headstone is 1924 that that is when the stone was made. Not true.

Jess E. Dabner of the American Legion, Post 28, applied to the War Department for the headstone on January 24, 1939. It was shipped to the cemetery on March 16, 1939.

Born on February 16, 1896, Albert was a Petaluma native. His parents were Robert S. and Amelia Adams. Robert Adams was Petaluma’s fire chief at the time of his son’s death. Albert and his brother, Robert, Jr. grew up in the family home at 2 Keller Street, which was located where a portion of the A Street parking lot is today.

Prior to enlisting in the United States Navy, in July of 1917, Albert worked for Jack Morris on Western Avenue as a shoe maker.

Albert was discharged from the Navy on October 2, 1919, having served as a Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class.

Despite his medical training, Albert continued in the shoe business when he returned to Petaluma. According to the Census, he worked as a salesman at a shoe store in 1920.

The California Death Index states that Albert died in San Francisco where he may have been living. San Francisco city directories do list an Albert Adams, shoemaker, residing at 3551 24th Street in 1921 and 1923.

On July 17, 1924, the Petaluma Argus reported that “all of the city offices of this city will close at noon tomorrow as a token of respect to Fire Chief Robert S. Adams so long and so prominently connected with city affairs and the flag at city hall will fly at half mast out of respect to Albert Adams. The young man’s father has been for many years the efficient chief of the fire department and the dead youth was born and reared within the shadow of the city hall.”

The funeral took place at the John C. Mount parlors under the auspices of the Odd Fellows.

No cause of death is specified in any of Albert’s obituaries. A death certificate would provide that information and because Albert died in San Francisco, that is where I’d need to go.

For $16, and a visit to the San Francisco County Clerk, I could discover what took the life of this young World War I veteran. In the meantime, I’m happy to have learned a bit more about those who occupy Petaluma’s past.

Research for this article provided by Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library volunteer, Barbara McFarland.







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Beautification Project at 330 Western Avenue, Petaluma, CA

Plans are underway to spruce up the old gas station at the corner of Western Avenue and Howard Street that was most recently occupied by the Cotija Restaurant.

I’ve often dreamed of purchasing this building and fixing it up. I think it would make a great spot to operate an ice cream shop, sell pizza by the slice and the like. Such a perfect location being across from the very active St. Vincent’s Parish Hall and just down the street from City Hall.

Apparently I am not the only one with a vision for this site. Marla Pedersen, a St. Vincent’s High School art teacher, has already begun working with her students to beautify the gas station that has sadly become an eye sore and graffiti magnet as it sits year after year vacant and waiting to be purchased.

Ms. Pedersen’s students are painting murals and doing a bit of landscaping. The Howard Street façade will include a tribute to the history of the building as a gas station which as far as I can tell dates back to the late 1940s when it was first operated by brothers, Clyde and Ted Zimmerman, as a 76 station. Later, Harry Park established a Richfield Service Station and then an Arco Station at this location.

The gas station was converted to a restaurant around 1979 when Pete’s Steak Sandwich moved in. Later there was the Rib Station and then of course Cotija Restaurant (sources: 2008 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment prepared by ECON, obit for Clyde Zimmerman, PAC 1/25/60, obit for Harry G. Park, PAC 7/19/82).

The work being conducted by the St. Vincent’s students is terrific and if you’d like to support their efforts please contact Marla Pedersen at mpedersen@svhs-pet.org.

With improved curb appeal the chances of a sale will hopefully increase. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that someone with a lot of spare cash will be inspired to invest in the property and follow the example of Brian Noyes who converted a 1921 Esso filling station located in Warrenton, Virginia into the Red Truck Bakery.

Meanwhile I’ll keep buying those lottery tickets!

Posted in Architecture, Historic Buildings, Petaluma, Photos | Leave a comment