The St. Rose Neighborhood includes a unique cross section of Santa Rosa’s residential building types as well as a number of fine institutional and commercial buildings.
The historic homes date from 1872 to the 1940’s. Many of the homes, Particularly the well-maintained bungalows along Lincoln Street, were built in the 1920’s for Santa Rosa’s small business owners such as bakers, druggists and salesmen as well as firemen, auto mechanics, foremen, farmers and the City’s Treasurer. In addition, the district includes seven of Santa Rosa’s grandest surviving nineteenth century homes.
The district grew up around the St. Rose Church, a Gothic Revival stone structure built by local Italian stone masons in 1900. The St. Rose neighborhood was not part of the originally mapped town of Santa Rosa, although it included the eastern terminus of the old Green Valley Road, now Ninth Street. The earliest known residents were Armstead and May Runyan, who moved from their prosperous Sacramento Valley orchard to Santa Rosa around 1871. They built 535 B Street and were benefactors of the Christian College, a school which preceded the St. Rose Church on the same site.
Many of Santa Rosa’s finest nineteenth century downtown homes were moved into the St. Rose neighborhood as the commercial areas of the city expanded. These include Dr. John Franklin Boyce’s house at 522 Third Street which was moved to 537 B Street in 1903, and the house of Oregon lumber baron Cornelious Shea which was moved from 537 Mendocino Ave to 625 B Street in the 1950’s. The Post Office (now the Sonoma County Museum) was moved from Fifth Street to it’s present site on Seventh Street in 1979.
Significant persons from Santa Rosa’s history represented in the St. Rose district include: the Runyans, Cornelius Shea, William Carithers, T.J. Ludwig, Frank Berka who sold lumber and building materials for four decades, and Dr. Boyce who was Santa Rosa’s first professional physician. There was also Julia Sweet who built a number of houses on Lincoln Street and was president of the Saturday Afternoon Club when its present building was constructed. John and Sarah Graycott developed a number of buildings in Santa Rosa as well as operating wineries and a ranch in Windsor. George Noon was a banker president of the Santa Rosa Board of Trustees in the 1870’s and a civic leader.
The City of Santa Rosa recognized the St. Rose neighborhood as the city’s first residential Historic District in 1990. The boundaries for the historic district are Seventh and Sixth Streets near the Santa Rosa Plaza Shopping Center to the south, Lincoln Street to the north, Mendocino Avenue to the east, and Highway 101 to the west.