Local History and Genealogy Notes

Sonoma Marin Fair Photos

Photo No. 7


The Sonoma County Library has approximately 40,000 photographs in its collection. Often times photos are given to the Library with little or  no identifications such as these taken at the Sonoma Marin Fair in Petaluma. If you see anyone you recognize please let us know. Thank you! 

Photo No. 1


Photo No. 6 Judy Herrerias and unidentified man circa 1973

Photo No. 7

Photo No. 8

Photo No. 3

Photo No. 5 Fred Jorgensen (right)

Photo No. 2



From Grain Elevators to Hatcheries

An estimated 65 people turned out for a talk on Petaluma's agricultural history and architecture presented by yours truly at the Petauma Arts Center on May 10th. This was the second of four lectures offered by the Arts Center as a way to celebrate May being National Historic Preservation Month thanks to sponsors: Century 21 Bundesen, Heritage Homes of Petaluma and Callie and Mircea Kindrish.

Photo courtesy of Lee Torliatt

On May 20th at 4 PM Bill Wolpert, AIA will be talking about the rehabilition plans for the old livery stable at Steamer Landing Park. It was a fun evening and a very appreciative crowd. As is often the case when I make a presentation there was way more material than time. One thing that I had hoped to share with the audience are the titles of some of the books I referred to as part of my preparation for the talk. For instance, Historical Buildings of Sonoma County: A Pictorial Story of Yesterday's Rural Structures by Jack Withington. For those interested specifically in Petaluma's poultry history Thea Lowry's Empty Shells: The Story of Petaluma, American Chicken City. Of course a must read for anyone interested in Petaluma's history in general is History of Petaluma, A California River Town by Adair Heig. Although I didn't talk about tank houses, barns or other out buildings one finds throughout Petaluma's landscape (subject for another talk I'm sure) I did want to let people know about Tom Cooper's book Tank House California's Redwood Water Towers from a Bygone Era and the work of Sue Abbott who wrote The Changing Landscape of Sonoma County Dairies: An Interpretative Guide.

Photo taken by Katherine J. Rinehart 2001

There are many buildings I would have liked to have included in my presention including the former Small's Scale that stood at the corner of C and Second Streets until about 2001. Jack Withington describes this property as having been one of the busiest public scales in Sonoma County with every load of poultry or other animal going to market and every shipment of hay or grain being bought or sold in Petaluma having to be weighed.  Confusion was the order of the early morning writes Jack, stating that "a madhouse rush to get the trucks weighed empty, then out to farms to be loaded, and back to the scales to be weighed in full." According to a report prepared by Susan M. Clark of Clark Historic Resource Consultants that is on file at the History and Genealogy Library, the scales were opened by Alvin Moretti in 1940. Moretti had a trucking business and hauled feed for Hunt & Behrens, M. Vonsen and G.P. McNear. When Basin Street built a parking garage on the block bound by Second, C, D and First Streets Small's Scales was moved to Petaluma Boulevard South and I'm told the building currently sits behind Van Bebber Steel next to the Petaluma River.

Holm Tractor & Equipment Company 1958 SCL Photo No. 13696

Another building I might have included is the former Holm Tractor & Equipment Company which is now home to the Petaluma School of Ballet and Pangea Silkscreen at 110 Howard Street.

Arolo Dairy Supply at 833 Petaluma Blvd South circa 1957 SCL Photo No. 10706

When you take a minute to consider all the different types of businesses that existed to support Petaluma's rich agricultural past and those still with us today it is really quite amazing the number of buildings that come to mind. Everything from the auction yard to hardware stores to pump and well specialists like Arolo Company and Jerry and Don Yager Pump and Well which is operating in the old Petaluma Co-Operative Hatchery on Bodega Avenue. The list goes on as does my interest of Petaluma's agricultural past and present. Given the positive feed back I've received it is likely that I'll be giving From Grain Elevators to Hatcheries presentation again. So stay tuned!

Oral History Workshop

Thanks to the Friends of the Santa Rosa Libraries we are pleased to offer a free oral history workshop on June 16th in the Forum Room at the Santa Rosa Main Library. For more information please see Oral History Workshop Flyer

Sonoma County Hospital Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

The Sonoma County Hospital was designed by Santa Rosa architect, John I. Easterly (1885-1974) in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Construction began in 1936 and the hospital was completed and dedicated on April 24, 1937. The cost was approximately $300,000 of which $137,000 (45%) was supplied by the National Public Works Administration (PWA), and the remainder was supplied by Sonoma County with only a slight increase in taxes during 1936 and 1937.

Postcard of Sonoma County Hospital

Postcard of Sonoma County Hospital

The  Hospital is one of several architectural gems that were undertaken during the New Deal Era that can be found throughout Sonoma County.

For more on the subject of California's New Deal art and architecture be sure to check out the web site for California's Living New Deal Project.

National Library Week

SR Carnegie Library 1903 SCL Photo No 4834

Better late than never!  Last Sunday (4/15/12) marked the end National Library Week which seems like a good opportunity to talk about the Santa Rosa Carnegie Library that once stood at Fourth and E Streets.

The library was designed by Ernest M. Hoen of Sacramento and constructed by William Peacock of San Francisco. The cornerstone was laid on April 14, 1903 and the doors opened on March 10, 1904.

SR Carnegie Library Cornerstone and Box of Contents SCL Photo No 2618

Lucy Kortum, in her SSU Master’s thesis: California Carnegie Libraries 1899-1921, describes the building as an example of the Romanesque style characterized by round arches, rock-faced masonry, lintels and other structural features emphasized by the use of a variety of stone. Romanesque buildings might contain both arched and straight topped windows, with stone mullions and transoms, and towers were frequent.

Demolition of SR Carnegie Library SCL Photo No 4983

The Santa Rosa Carnegie Library included most of these features. Complex in construction, there appears to have been a large cross gable wing, with another gable to the front next to a tower with parapets, and low round arched entrance topped with a fenestrated parapet. Roof lines were hipped, gable, and at the tower, pyramid. Main floor windows were tall and narrow and deeply recessed, windows high in gable end and tower were much smaller, and grade level basement windows wider and rectangular. The building was constructed of locally quaried basalt blocks, with the same material used for lintels, arches, sills and course lines.

The Santa Rosa Carnegie Library was demolished in 1964 and the “new” library was completed in 1967.

New Santa Rosa Library Completed in 1967 SCL Photo No 7632