Event Photos

Monthly Archives: December 2019

Santa Rosa’s Historic 1910 Post Office (now the Sonoma County Museum)

Originally housed in the old adobe home on Maria Carrillo’s Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa Post Office was later relocated in the Atheneum Theatre building on Fifth and D Streets. It was finally slated to be given a permanent home through a bill introduced in the House of Representatives on March 8, 1906. The legislation called for “the purchase of a site and erection of a public building at Santa Rosa, California . . . a suitable building with fireproof vaults therein, for the accommodation of the post-office and other government offices . . . ” with the entire amount of funding not to exceed “the sum of one hundred thousand dollars.” A month after the legislation was introduced, the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of downtown Santa Rosa. As a result, the Santa Rosa Post Office operated temporarily out of Jenkins Grocery, surrounded by wreckage and debris.
Local hop dealer, C.C. Donovan, wrote to James Knox Taylor, Supervising Architect of Federal Buildings, asking him to give priority to the construction of the new Post Office slated for Santa Rosa. Taylor (known as the national architect) designed a structure that linked architectural design to the history, environment, and culture of the community and its surroundings. The new Santa Rosa Post Office building was an example of Classic Federal Architecture in California, a design style greatly influenced by the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
Construction of the new Post Office located at Fifth and A Streets began in 1908. The building process was a community effort, exemplified by determination and superior craftsmanship. The Santa Rosa-based contracting firm of Hoyt Bros. hired local firms to complete the majority of the interior and exterior work. Henry Kroncke of the Santa Rosa Planing Mills did the interior woodwork. J. C. Mailer Hardware installed the building’s plumbing. Stone contractor, George Reilly, was responsible for the Bedford stone columns and marble terrazzo floors.
Technologically, the building was ahead of its time. Ray Oil Burner Company of San Francisco installed a new automatic oil burning system, which was not shown publicly in the Bay Area until the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. In addition to heating the building, the system provided hot showers for the mail carriers. On March 9, 1910, Post Master H. L. Tripp and his postal staff moved into the newly completed Santa Rosa Post Office.
Moving the Museum
The Santa Rosa Main Post Office was eventually relocated to 2nd Street and following the 1969 earthquake that ravaged much of downtown Santa Rosa, the historic post office was slated to be razed to make way for a mall. Architect Dan Peterson led the campaign to save the post office by proposing that it be moved out of the path of urban renewal. Starting in April 1979, workmen raised the great structure and lay before it a bed of rails and a network of pulleys and cables. The building moved, but almost imperceptibly — an average of 36 feet a day. The building was moved over 750 feet to its new home on 7th street, between A and B streets. Architect Dan Petersen restored it as a museum and placed the building onto the National Register of Historic Places. It reopened in 1985 as the Sonoma County Museum.

Block of St. Rose Preservation district with dark shading denotes areas proposed for highest density.

The City has initiated an update to their Downtown Station Area Specific Plan, which was originally adopted in 2007. The city’s position is a lack of vitality in the downtown is the result of  being too restrictive in terms of development standards such as density and height.

This plan affects our neighborhood. The plan to be presented to City Council this Tuesday, 12/2, includes the rezoning of an entire southern block of our historic district to allow for the highest density and height possible. This is clearly an attempt to remove this block from our historic district by catering to developers over historic preservation and sets a precedent that would endanger all historic districts in our city. If you have concerns about this, please email the City Council and Planning Commission members by end of day Monday, 12/1. citycouncil@srcity.org, planningcommission@srcity.org

From the city’s own documents provided with the above suggested plan: The purpose of the -H combining (Preservation) district in the City of Santa Rosa’s  is to recognize, preserve, and enhance Santa Rosa’s locally-designated historic resources.