Local History and Genealogy Notes

Treasures in the Library Basement

Visiting the basement or what we call the closed stacks is one of many things I like about my job here at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library.

The closed stacks are located in the basement of the Santa Rosa Central Library which is next door to the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library. While hunting for an old copy of the Kenwood Press newspaper for a patron doing reseach on someone who is buried at the Santa Rosa Rural Cementery I came across two shelves containing several volumes of News Notes of California Libraries - the earliest being from 1906 and latest from 1993.


I pulled out the 1906 volume and looked up Petaluma and here is what is written:

"Petaluma Free Public Library. Miss Sara Frances Cassiday, Librarian. Established 1878. Total no. of vols., 9636 (June 30, 1905). Report from June 1906 not received.

The Petaluma Argus of May 11th states that the books, magazines and all reading matter of the Petaluma Free Public Library have been removed from the old building in the third story of the City Hall to the new Carnegie library buiding at Fourth and B Streets, where they will be stored until the new building is formally opened in a short time hence.


Owns lot 100 x 100, valued at $6,000, the money for which was partly ($3,500) received in private donations. Owns building, which cost $16,000; built in 1905; $12,500 of money for building was received from Andrew Carnegie, the balance from the city. Architect of building Brainerd Jones, Petaluma; style of architecture colonial; constructive materials brick and stone; two stories, four rooms."

Great information. Nearly every semester we get at least one San Jose State University library science student researching the history of a library - usually Petaluma or Santa Rosa. Now we have another resource for them to check out. Of particular interest to these students will be total number of volumes held by a library during a specific time period.

I can see that there is much more information to be gleaned from the News Notes of California Libraries. If this is a subject of interest to you, stop on by - you might even get a tour of the basement if you play your cards right!

The Other Goldman D Street Residence

On May 29, 2013, I gave a talk at the Petaluma Library called The Genealogy of a House: A Case Study. We had 82+ attendees. It was great to see so many people interested in Petaluma history, genealogy and architecture.

The focus of the case study was a Dutch Colonial Revival styled house built in 1927 and located at 517 Oak Street, Petaluma.

As part of the presentation I showed images of other homes built during the same period including a Spanish Revival bungalow at 1014 D Street that was built by Walter Singleton, the same contractor who built 517 Oak Street.

According to a Petaluma Daily Courier article, Mose Goldman, a local department store owner, hired Singleton in June of 1927 to build a new house on his (Goldman's) D Street property situated just east of Laurel Avenue.


This home was to be a much more modest affair than Goldman's previous residence located at 831 D Street which was designed by San Francisco architect Sylvain Schnaittacher in 1924.


Mose and his wife Lena sold 831 D Street to Leo Bourke, owner of the Must Hatch Hatchery before moving into 1014 D Street which may have been more modest in size than 831 D Street, but it clearly lacked nothing when it came to craftsmanship and character which can be seen up close this Saturday, June 15th when an open house is scheduled from 1 PM and 4 PM. Yes, this jem is for sale!

The listing agent is Christine Jones of Century 21 Bundesen. For more information check out the web site she's created http://www.century21.com/property/1014-d-street-petaluma-ca-94952-C2120722074

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.

Historic Petaluma Hansen House To Be Rehabiliated

An item in the Petaluma Argus Courier public notice section caught my eye the other day. Mixed in with all the notice of trustee’s sales in the sports section I saw a notice of public hearing for a project that involves the historic Hansen House at 718 North McDowell Boulevard – a property that I’ve been closely associated with since 1997 when I worked for the City of Petaluma and was asked to provide an historic evaluation of the residence when there was a plan to demolish the house and build a medical office building. Several projects have come and gone since then and the house was damaged by a fire in December of 2003, five months after Petaluma’s Historic and Cultural Preservation Committee declared the Hansen House to be historically significant. This photo and article appeared in the Press Democrat on June 4, 2004.Jeff Kan Lee's photo020

The current proposal, according to the public notice, calls for having the Hansen House officially designated as a landmark and rehabilitated by developer Hugh Futrell. Mr. Futrell proposes to build 34 two-story residential units, including 8 detached single family homes and 26 duets (duplexes). The Planning Commission will review all of this Tuesday, May 28th at 7 PM. First part of Janet's story018

For more information and/or to provide comments, contact Heather Hines, Planning Manager at (707) 778-4316 or send an email hhines@ci.petaluma.ca.us

second part of Janet's story019

The notice states that the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration was released for a 20 day public review from May 9th thru May 28th and that the document is available at the Community Development Department at 11 English Street and on the City’s web site http://cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/planning.html

McKinley School Has a Birthday

In this week's Petaluma Argus Courier there was a story about McKinley Elementary School celebrating it's 100th birthday in style. I read with interest all the great things that are taking place under the leadership of Principal Matthew Harris. It wasn't until a few days later that something occured to me - where did the 100 years come from?


There have been three McKinley Schools. First there was a one room school house which was replaced by a larger building designed by Brainerd Jones (the blueprints are on file at the Sonoma County Archives which is managed by Tony Hoskins of the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library) and constructed by Frederick Cullen in 1911according to Thomas Gregory's History of Sonoma County.


Both of these buildings were located on East Washington and Vallejo Streets - where Whole Foods is today. The second school was demolished in November of 1955. Construction of the current McKinley Elementary School on Ellis Street began in April of 1949. The architect was Robert Stanton of San Francisco and the builders were our very own Midstate Construction who are presently working across the street from the McKinley Elementary School on the East Washington Place Shopping Center.


Whatever starting year you choose, none add up to 100 years. I bet several of McKinley students - past and present have figured this out, but heck acknowledging the educational accomplishments of today is what's really important here. Check it out for yourself by attending the celebration at the school on May 9th. For more information, please call Matthew Harris at (707) 778-4750.