The Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library received a wonderful donation last week from John Schubert, local historian and Guerneville Regional Library Advisory Board member. John was the winning E bay bidder on this beautiful photograph. The only identification given was that of the photographers: Downing, Rea & Rauscher. In 1875, John Henry Downing, Thomas L. Rea, and Henry Rauscher formed their Santa Rosa partnership by taking over a business established by E. Kraft. The studio and gallery was located on Third Street in downtown Santa Rosa.
It was a sketch in Gorman's Santa Rosa Directory for 1887 that tipped me off that John's photograph was of the Pacific Methodist College that once stood on College Avenue at King Street.
According to the directory, the Pacific Methodist College had its beginnings at Vacaville, Solano County, California in the year 1861. During that year Rev. W.T. Lucky was President, a position he held until 1865. From 1865 to 1871, Rev. J.R. Thomas, D.D. was president of the College. In 1871, the College moved to Santa Rosa where "the citizens of that town had presented the institution with grounds and a building."
In March of 1887, the faculty consisted of J.S. Austin, A.M., President, and Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy; Rev. S.M. Godbey, A.M., Professor of Natural Sciences; Ferdinand Kenyon, Professor of Mathematics; Rev. George B. Winton, A.M., Professor of Latin and Greek; E. Lerch, Instructor in Instrumental Music; and Miss Callie Brook, Instructor of Vocal Music.
Dan and Geraldine Peterson, in their book Santa Rosa's Architectural Heritage, speculate that A.P. Petit was the architect of the Pacific Methodist College.
The Sonoma County History Index, which is accessed via the Sonoma County Library's online catalog, has several references to the College making it quite easy to learn more about this substantial structure as well as A.P. Petit. In the meantime, we are happy to be able to include this treasure in the Library's collection of photographs and make it available to the public. As it turns out we do have other images of the College, but none quite as impressive. Knowing the names of the photographers is significant too. Their works show up in a number of special collections around the San Francisco Bay Area.