New exhibit celebrates history of Duhring Building
REINER KELLER, architect for the Duhring Building restoration, speaks to a crowd of around 70 at the unveiling of a photography exhibit on the historic site and the logo for the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation.
Members and friends of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation gathered at the General Joseph Hooker House last Wednesday to recognize and celebrate one of Sonoma's best known landmarks and the league's efforts to protect and preserve it along with the Sonoma Valley's greater historic landscape.
"Today, we are honoring the past and looking toward increasing community awareness to protect and preserve the very special architectural and cultural resources of Sonoma through education and advocacy," said League President Loyce Haran.
The league celebrated the opening of the Duhring Building exhibit titled, "The Store on the Corner," to be displayed at the Hooker House through Aug. 1.
Organized by Bowers and league member Ginny Richardson, the exhibit traces the 150-year history of the site through a series of photos.
Among the photos are images of the original adobe building as it looked in 1860, the 1891 brick building with corner windows and cupola that replaced the original structure, the corner at the turn-of-the-century and finally the building as it was gutted by fire and rebuilt by the community and the league.
Frederick T. Duhring, whose parents arrived in California from Germany around the time of the Gold Rush, constructed the first section of the brick building capped by a cupola in 1891. A. C. Lutgens of San Francisco, who also designed and built Sonoma City Hall, came up with the plans for the structure. Duhring operated the store as a hardware business until 1932 when the enterprise was turned over to August Pinelli, who had started working there after school, years earlier.
The building housed "Mission Hardware" store for almost 60 years until the night of Sept. 19, 1990, when the structure was 90 percent destroyed and thought by some to be lost for good. A Sonoma city official at the time called for the building site to be cleared only to be stopped by outraged league members Donna Lewis and Kay Maynard, who cited California historic preservation guidelines.
Thanks to the commitment and dedication of league members, the Duhring family who attended the ceremony last Wednesday, and concerned residents of the community such as Robert Arnold, whose grandfather, Gen. Hap Arnold, used to frequent the store with his visiting guests, the building was painstakingly restored and brought back to life within two years.
The building's bricks were taken to the Sonoma City Corporation Yard. There, league members such as Maria Biasetto removed the mortar by hand from every brick, without work breaks, so that the original bricks could be used to rebuild the hardware store in the exact pattern they had been before, based on pictures taken prior to the fire by restoration architect and league member Reiner Keller. The League subsequently obtained a façade easement that guarantees the exterior could not be changed without its approval.
Playing off the Duhring Building, the league also unveiled a new league logo Wednesday that features a rendering of the building's cupola in red and black with the league's familiar logotype surrounded by the motto, "Honoring the Past, Imagining the Future."
Sonoma artist Barbara White Perry provided sketches and pictures to local graphics designer Tina Tovey, who came up with the logo and rendering working closely with Perry and league members Yvonne Bowers, Pat Pulvirenti, Micaelia Randolph and Gary Kozel.
To reach the league, call 938-0169 or e-mail email@example.com.