Local History and Genealogy Notes

  • New Labor Temple at Western Avenue and Liberty Street, Petaluma circa 1924. Courtesy of the Sonoma County Library

    Back when the Petaluma Argus Courier was publishing the Petaluma Magazine I was lucky enough to contribute a regular feature called Changing Landscape where I'd provide a historic photo of a building, park, etc. with 500 words of background information. Terry Hankins, Argus photographer at the time, would take a current picture of the same site. I always planned to include this photo of New Labor Temple. The Temple was located at the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Liberty Streets.

From Church to Labor Temple

Back when the Petaluma Argus Courier was publishing the Petaluma Magazine I was lucky enough to contribute a regular feature called Changing Landscape where I'd provide a historic photo of a building, park, etc. with 500 words of background information. Terry Hankins, Argus photographer at the time, would take a current picture of the same site. I always planned to include this photo of the New Labor Temple. The Temple was located at the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Liberty Streets. The building was a remodel of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Local builder, H.P. Vogensen, was responsible for the transformation from church to labor hall that occurred in the early 1920s. Ione "Sissy" Vogensen donated this photograph to the Sonoma County Library. Ione's husband was Richard Vogensen who was a grandson of H.P. Vogensen.

The building was torn down in the 1960s, and today the site is occupied by the Alphabet Soup Thrift Shop. For those who have been around for a bit, you'll remember this building as also being the former home of Plum Tuckered.

  • Bill Albert and Wendy Entz exchange marriage vows at the Sonoma County Fair on July 16, 1980. Photo taken by Chris Dawson for the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.) photo

    Bill Albert and Wendy Entz exchange marriage vows at the Sonoma County Fair on July 16, 1980. Photo taken by Chris Dawson for the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

Marriage - Sonoma County Fair Style

I understand that today at the Sonoma County Fair it was Valentine's Day and that couples were invited to get married or renew their vows on Butler Amusements' Majestic Giant Wheel. In 2011, while researching in preparation for the Sonoma County Fair's 75th-anniversary museum exhibit, I came across this photo taken by Chris Dawson for the Press Democrat. Shown are Bill Albert and Wendy Entz getting married at the Fair in July 1980.

Instead of a ferris wheel, Bill and Wendy chose the Artic Flyer as their wedding "chapel." I checked Ancestry.com and found that their marriage is officially recorded in the California Marriage Index. William L. Albert, Jr. was 30, and Wendy D. Entz was 19 at the time.

According to the caption in a July 17, 1980, Press Democrat, Bill was a long time employee of Foley & Burke. For years Foley and Burke had the carnival contract at the Sonoma County Fair. The Artic Flyer was one of their rides. Wendy worked in a glass pitch booth. The Reverand Susan Bostick of Santa Rosa Psychic Institute officiated. Mike Smylie, Stockton, was best man. Fred Zertanna, a friend from the area, gave away the bride.

  • Howard Gilkey with Mrs. Kraft and Mrs. Parson in Santa Rosa - October 23, 1949 photo

    Howard Gilkey with Mrs. Kraft and Mrs. Parson in Santa Rosa - October 23, 1949

Juilliard Park and the Landscape Architect Who Designed It

The Historical Society of Santa Rosa recently informed its members by way of a Face Book post that the City of Santa Rosa's Recreation and Parks Department is conducting a pond resurfacing project at Juilliard Park. Many likely know that property upon which the park sits was given to the City of Santa Rosa by Frederic A. Juilliard in 1931. If you've been to the park it's hard to miss the large boulder with the plaque stating this.

At the time, the 9-acre parcel contained the  Juilliard home,  built in 1872, outbuildings, fruit and shade trees. A condition of the gift was that the City of Santa Rosa remove the residence and other structures and develop the property for use as a public park. Planning for the park began in 1932 and completed in 1938 - although I have yet to find an exact dedication date.

Funding for the park came from the City of Santa Rosa Relief Fund and at least two federal programs: the Civil Works Administration and Works Progress Administration.  What people are probably less familiar with is the landscape architect who designed the park - Howard Gilkey.

Although Howard Gilkey (1890-1972) was born in Iowa, he spent his teens living in Santa Rosa on Morgan Street with his parents, Barton and Laura Gilkey, his sister Esther and grandmother, Harriett Wetmore. While attending Santa Rosa High School, Howard worked for Luther Burbank. After graduating he attended UC Berkeley where he had the unique opportunity to serve as an assistant to a landscape designer who was superintendent of horticulture for the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1914. Gilkey would later be hired to work on the 1939/40 Golden Gate International  Exposition at Treasure Island.

Gilkey graduated from Berkeley in 1916 and took a job at Mills College where he taught landscape gardening. In 1921 and 1922, he was city park engineer and acting city planning engineer for the City of Oakland.  One of Gilkey's most notable projects completed while with the City of Oakland is the Cleveland Cascade project near Lake Merritt. To learn more about this amazing historic site check out Adrienne Schell's blog post "Oakland Landscape . . . Gilkey's Vertical Grandeur

Other examples of Gilkey's work during the 1920s include designs for Mills College, St. Mary's College and the Woodside Estate of Mortimer Fleishhacker. In the early 1930s, Gilkey served as a work-relief employee of the WPA and supervised 3,500 people engaged in the renovation of Golden Gate Park.

It was also during the 1930s that Gilkey returns to Santa Rosa where he designed Burbank Park at the Santa Rosa Junior College as well as Fremont and Doyle Parks and of course Juilliard Park.

An impressive Wikipedia entry exists for  Howard Gilkey which I drew upon for this story. However, the contributor makes no mention of Gilkey's work in Santa Rosa. For that, I relied on back issues of the Press Democrat as well other sources such as Bill Montgomery.

Bill Montgomery, retired Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks deputy director, has completed quite a bit of research on Gilkey and is known to take on the persona of Howard Gilkey while leading tours of Juilliard Park. Gilkey is just one of many "characters" played by Bill who is a volunteer member of the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Preservation Committee.

As Santa Rosa's 2018 sesquicentennial approaches, there is an opportunity to celebrate Howard Gilkey and the parks he designed which are such an important part of the city's identity. As for Juilliard Park specifically,  it may too be celebrating an anniversary in 2018 - it's 80th birthday!

  • Three Petaluma Women Stand in Front of a National Business Women's Week Poster - 1958 photo

    Three Petaluma Women Stand in Front of a National Business Women's Week Poster - 1958

A Photo of Three Petaluma Women and So Much More

In honor of International Women's Day I'm posting a photo from the Sonoma County Library's collection. According to the cataloging notes this picture was taken in 1958 and shows Ruth Snodgrass, Jessie Mitchell and Betsy McLaughlin. 

Additional notes include that Ruth Snodgrass was secretary to cattle dealer Chris Beck. Ruth, and her husband Harold, lived at 856 B Street, Petaluma. Jessie Mitchell owned Petaluma Travel Agency on Kentucky Street in Petaluma and Betsy McLaughlin, and her husband Bob, owned McLaughlin's Jeweler's also on Kentucky Street. The women are standing in front of a National Business Women's Week poster. 

National Business Women’s Week began in 1928. The first annual observance was held in April 15-22, 1928. President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Lena Madesin Phillps, opened the week with a nationally broadcast speech from New York City. She stated that the purpose of the week was “to focus attention upon a better business woman for a better business world.” 

Nowadays, National Business Women’s Week occurs during the third week of October. Anything planned for 2017 involving Sonoma County women?

If it wasn’t for the photo of Ruth, Jessie and Betsy I might not have been prompted to research National Business Women’s Week which led me to learn more about the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club AND discovering who Lena Madesin Phillilps was. A fascinating and inspiring woman. That’s an understatement.

Google Lena’s name and you will be amazed at what you find. Sonoma State University Library has a copy of A Measure Filled: The Life of Lena Madesin Phillips drawn from her autobiography.The papers of Lena Madesin Phillps (1881-1955) are housed at the Harvard University Library.

Once again, I’ve been led astray all because of one photo. Astray might not be the right word – educated is more accurate. Lifelong learning on the job. Can’t beat that!

  • Santa Rosa City Hall on Hinton Street - Photo Scanned from Santa Rosa A Twentieth Century Town by Gaye LeBaron & Joann Mitchell photo

    Santa Rosa City Hall on Hinton Street - Photo Scanned from Santa Rosa A Twentieth Century Town by Gaye LeBaron & Joann Mitchell

Turton, Not Dolliver, Designed the 1913 Santa Rosa City Hall

For those of you who read my last blog "Interesting Discovery at the Sonoma County Archives" you know that I claimed that J.W. Dolliver designed Santa Rosa's City Hall. Not true. Dolliver did in fact bid on the project, but it was Napa architect, Luther Turton (1862-1925) who got the contract. This I learned from Jeff Elliott, a local historian and regular visitor to the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library. Jeff has his own history blog. Check out his latest post http://santarosahistory.com/wordpress/2017/01/our-forgotten-city-hall/ . A very interesting read!

Thank you Jeff. We will now up date our cataloging notes for the few photos in the Library's collection of the Santa Rosa City Hall, that stood on Hinton Avenue between 1913 and 1969.

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