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Springs Splash - February 2017 - Thomas Martin


Springs Splash - February 2017 - Thomas Martin

by Tom Martin

Since Sonoma County is developing a “Springs Specific Plan” (2018) to spruce up the area, it seems appropriate to reflect on the Springs in “the good old days.” To assist in this endeavor, two long time residents walked this writer around the Springs identifying buildings, vacant lots, and monuments that fostered a different lifestyle than we experience today. My walking guides were local artist Patrick McMurtry who was raised in the Springs and author and artist Michael Acker who has chronicled the changing history of Sonoma’s one-time central attraction, the warm natural springs waters.  

Michael Acker’s book on the history of the Springs will be published in March. Watch for it at Readers Books and the State Parks Barracks bookstores.

Before World War II the Springs drew tourists and vacationers from near and far. Stroll from Highway 12 and you find summer homes with multiple rooms complete with screen porches and wide verandas. While permanent homes today, in the pre-WWII eras they were summer rentals. 

These provide two points of interest. The building on the left is the former Valley Volunteer Fire Department. If one walks up to the building (now Voltaire Electric) the SVFD lettering is still visible just below the roofline. 

The picture on the right is the Woodleaf Store (1925), now the Mission Inn Big Three building. The Woodleaf once housed the Greyhound Bus Depot, a soda fountain, drug store, coffee shop, and liquor store. The Big Three closed months ago. A Mission Inn public relations spokesperson says plans for the building are still in flux. 

Patrick and Michael provided multiple narratives as we ambled along Hwy. 12. “Oh, the Barking Dog was Denny’s Bar in 1950, and the SMI parking lot was the Road House.” The Lanning building next door that recently sold to Ken and Stacy Mattson was owned by the Lanning family and operated by Pete Mancuso as the Resort Club and later The Melody Club. The site 

is destined to soon be Sondra’s “Noodle Springs.” The gents chuckled as they pointed towards the Mission Inn across the area designated to become the “Plaza.” “Before the spa was built it was the location of the Quonset House movie theater.” In its final days it became a porno theater. 

As viewing a kaleidoscope my guides transformed today’s sites into their former identities. Andy’s Liquors was a bank. In the 1930’s the Taqueria Hacienda was Sam’s Grill. Parson’s Hardware, once Valley Lumber, has existed since WWI. The Valley of the Moon Donut Shop, now Boost Mobile, was a gathering spot for both sheriffs and folks down on their luck. Nearby were a fortune teller and GD’s Gas Station. Today’s Carniceria La Favorita was an early home of Pet’s Lifeline. Sonoma Valley Fitness was an art gallery. Near the new affordable housing complex El Brinquito Mercado housed places with names like Tripp’s, Sam’s, and Mike’s. The original Mary’s Pizza was at the corner of Arroyo Road and Hwy 12. The Iniquez Market was the Arroyo Veterinarian, and before that a laundromat. 

At the base of Pine Avenue was the entrance to Boyes Springs Bathhouse that covered 25,000 square feet and housed a roller rink, two pools, a steam room, restaurant, penny arcade, and bar. Homes and gardens cover the site today. Nearby is the Creekside Lodge and Restaurant. Across from Creekside is the former Sycamore Lodge that was a bar and restaurant that served a wonderful gin and tonic. 

There will be more walks in the Springs. We have touched upon only a portion of the interesting places of yesteryear. While major changes are in the offing, remember the Springs for decades were the center of life in southern Sonoma County. The natural waters attracted people for health, fitness and fun. People traveled by ferry and train to use the pools and arcades, and find summer romance. The Springs shall flourish again!

Thank you Patrick and Michael. 

Springs Community Hall Pancake Breakfast – Saturday, February 5! The Grange Hall kitchen remodel has been completed. It has been renamed the Springs Community Hall. Mark your calendar!