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Sonoma League for Historic Preservation honors seven projects


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Seven properties were honored Nov. 20, by the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation at its annual awards meeting.

Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center, the Holloway property and the Stone Barn at Glen Oaks Ranch received awards of merit while Two Palms Estate, the Quiet Little House, the Bohar Residence and the Fat Pilgrim received awards of excellence.

• The Stone Barn at Glen Oaks Ranch: The Sonoma Land Trust, Degenkoib Engineers and Treeline Construction were honored for preserving a historic 1859 stone barn at 13255 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen.

The ranch was once part of the El Rancho Agua Caliente, a land grant that was issued to Gen. Marino Vallejo in 1839. After a series of owners, Col. Charles and Ellen Stuart purchased it in 1859. Stuart built a stone house, stone smoke house and stone barn using local stone and Chinese labor. Stuart called the Ranch Glen Ellen.

Later the village of Glen Ellen used the name for the Post Office and in order to avoid confusion Stuart renamed the ranch Glen Oaks.

The stone barn is a two-story gabled-roofed building constructed in 1859. It was whitewashed before 1952 and is now painted white.

From 1896, the Ranch changed hands four times until 1952 when Roswell and Camille Cochran purchased the ranch. When Roswell and Camille died, their daughter, Joan Cochran, inherited the ranch and continued to maintain all buildings. The Stone Barn was painted white to avoid having to white wash the building every three years.

In 1994, Glen Oaks Ranch was officially accepted to the National Registry of Historic Places.

In 2001, Joan granted three easements over the property. When Joan died in 2002, she left the land to the Sonoma Land Trust which has since preserved the property.

In 2010, an anonymous donor offered to provide half of the cost of completing all work required for the stone barn, and the Land Trust committed to raising the balance of the funds. Degenkolb Engineers drafted the construction plans by the end of that same year. Treeline Construction worked closely with the Trust and Degenkolb to refine plan details over the next year while permits were being secured, and they provided key solutions to safeguard the integrity of the structure during construction. Treeline completed construction between June and December 2012.

Work on the barn included seismic reinforcing and rehabilitation installing a new shake roof; adding new rafters; replacing rotted gable end siding; installing a reinforced concrete beam at the top of the stone walls; anchoring the roof to the new beam; drilling and installing stainless steel rods every three feet throughout all walls to connect the two rock layers; replacing rotted joists and flooring; repointing cracks and fallen stones; and repairing doors and window shutters.

• The Fat Pilgrim, 20820 Broadway: Craig Miller was honored for a major reconstruction and preservation of a commercial building.

The 1.3-acre property was birthed in the early ’40s and by 1952, it was the Jackpot Gas Station, with the proprietors living in the very simple structure to the south of the gas station. Not much is known about those times or the family history but when Craig Miller purchased the property in 2010, its past was worn clearly on its face.

All of the buildings were in disrepair. Miller, a true aficionado of historic and vintage structures, took on the daunting task of renovation and restoring the buildings to usable and quaint condition, by repurposing, reusing or recycling materials from one derelict building to upgrade his retail shop or the buildings on either side.

The floors in the main building have their original wood flooring and is the same foot print as the 1950s gas station. All of the outdoor structures are in their original spot, no buildings were demolished or moved during this labor of love. He also removed a ton of debris and sometime a questionable cast of characters to be able to keep the original spirit of the property.

Any salvageable materials, doors, wood interior walls, floors, windows, from the property were saved and reused or repurposed to help maintain the original historic character on this unique property.

• Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center: Groups and individuals involved in preserving Andrews Hall includes Kathy Swett, Jack Lundgren, the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Theatre Alliance, Mark T. Perry, architect and Les Peterson, Peterson Mechanical.

The Sonoma Community Center was built in 1916 as a grammar school. Dr. Carroll B. Andrews bought the Sonoma Grammar School in February 1952 for the purpose of turning it into a community center. He paid $28,500. Its mission was, and still is, to be an ongoing source of education and cultural connectivity.

The aged facility had a history of deferred maintenance. In 2009, then-Executive Director Kathy Swett approached Sonoma’s City Manager, Linda Kelly and the City Council about the need for renovation of the building so that it would be able to address the needs of the community for the next 100 years.

The transformation of Andrews Hall from a multi-use hall to a Sonoma’s first and only performance venue was the second phase of work. To achieve improvements, the original hall was almost completely gutted. The work included installation of a new floor, all new acoustical treatments, new accessible restroom, a new box office, new marquee, a new electrical system to support state-of-the-art sound and light equipment, a new stage and window draperies. The renovated mezzanine provides better site-lines and improved seating.

The Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley issued a $100,000 Challenge Grant to the community, and Sonoma Theatre Alliance spent nearly three seasons fundraising to purchase the fixed seating for the hall.

Mark T. Perry, owner of MTP Architecture+Green Consultants, donated many hours of service to the center in the planning stages of the project. He created a facility master plan that helped the center prioritize construction goals, and provided cost estimating services to determine the scope of the project. Perry worked with the center’s building committee and the city’s redevelopment agency to write the proposal and make sure the necessary funds were allocated to restore and upgrade Andrews Hall.

After redevelopment money was awarded, MTP Architecture was contracted by the center to lead the design and construction document process.

• The Holloway Property, 20020 Seventh St. E. and its owners, Bette and Milton Holloway were honored as stewards of the land.

Bette and Milt Holloway bought their property on Seventh Street East in 1975. They started improvements even before they moved in.

In addition to their home, the Holloway’s property is comprised of seven outbuildings including buildings for the working turkey farm that used to be on the property. Their preservation and reuse of all these buildings and the objects left behind by former owners is remarkable. They used the outbuildings to keep their own infrequently used items and memorabilia in storage, but the result is to give a sense of a casual museum of household objects.

Milt has adapted the buildings for their own use (one turned into a greenhouse via the use of old windows) but the period incubators and metal egg storage remains. Just as unique was their approach to their gardens … the literal and figurative cultivation of the “spaces” between. An old mint green sink has become a planter. Scrap metal has been shaped and welded and turned into wall art and garden sculptures. An almost circular grove of trees has become a special seating area for friends and family to gather – perhaps to even sit on a tread of a metal spiral stairway that belonged to a friend. It “didn’t fit” its intended use but fits perfectly in the grove.

• Two Palms Estate at 131 Fourth St. E. Bill Jasper, owner; Robert Baumann, architect; Jon Curry, general contractor; Christine Curry, interior design; and Brett McPherson, landscape design, were honored for reconstruction, renovation and preservation of a historic 1910 home.

The house at 131 Fourth St. E., formerly known as the “Haunted House,” stood empty for more than 30 years. Its former owner, unhappy with the city over permits and other issues, left it abandoned and vacant.

Once overgrowth on the property was cleared, the great old craftsman-looking house appeared. The home has been completely renovated with an expansion to the rear of the house to add a new kitchen, family room and garage on the first floor and master bedroom, bath and den on the second floor.

Original stone-walls, fountains and well house were restored surrounded by new hardscape and landscaping. The result is a 1910 craftsman home that meets all current building codes in a palatial, peaceful setting with the feeling of a bygone era.

• The Bohar Residence, 299 First St. W.: James and Christine Bohar, owners; David Trachtenberg and Robert Nishimori, architects; Mike Frost, contractor; Dustin O’Brien, painter; and June King, landscape design were honored for reconstruction, renovation and preservation of a historic 1885 home.

The house and property at 299 First St. W. was owned by a number of leading families of Sonoma. It remained well maintained and historically intact, but lacked the conveniences and warmth of today’s homes. The home was completely renovated while restoring the exterior to its original form, but completely redoing the interior. A new barn-like garage with upstairs studio and new landscape and hardscape completed the project. The resulting home and landscape marries the two into a single, inviting living space. While the house retains its modest size, the openness of the design makes it feel larger than it is.

• The Quiet Little house, 787 Second St. E. Owners Bill Strid and Warren Bryant were honored for new construction compatible with an existing historic neighborhood.

The 1950s ranch-style was home to Virginia “Polly” Ehret who was a neighborhood favorite regularly hosting impromptu cocktail parties in her two-car garage and was the unofficial day-care provider for the neighborhood kids.

Strid and Bryant knew they wanted something different in lifestyle and home space. So in 2008, when they saw the for sale sign in front of 787 Second St. E., the search was over. They moved in with a desire to retain the single story house that Polly called home.

During the first year of living in the house, they observed the neighborhood’s street scape and prepared to do an extensive remodel to provide for more living space and less garage. After several tries at possible plans, it became obvious that modification was not feasible. The garage would still be the dominant feature of the house with the living area “somewhere in the back.”

So they launched into planning a complete new construction on the 50-foot-by-100-foot lot. The goal was to have a slight increase in living space with higher ceilings, less garage, and a more inviting street presence.

During the planning stage, they spoke and listened to neighbors opinions about their plans, and received neighbors support for the project before submitting it to the city.

The two-car garage became a one-car garage set 20 feet behind the house facade. The design of the home was to be compatible with the neighborhood’s historic and modern homes in mass, style and materials. The integrated lower roof over the porch and entry would keep the scale of the home inviting.

The result is a contemporary living space with a nod to traditional style, with suggestions of craftsman, industrial, recycled and repurposed elements. It is a small 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home with solar panels on the south slope of the roof and low water usage landscaping.

Demolition of the previous house was accomplished in accordance with the city requirements of recycle and reuse, after salvagers from the community were invited to help themselves. The side yard patio of the new house was constructed from remnants of the old broken concrete driveway, and the demolished fence became a garden shed.