Artist and historian Michael Acker has been enamored of the Springs since he moved to the Sonoma Valley 18 years ago. His appreciation for the area’s rich history has appeared in the form of artwork – mainly paintings constructed from historical photos – and through the many conversations he cheerful participates in whenever asked about the Springs.
And now, after more than a year spent combing through archives and libraries, Acker has completed his exhaustively-researched book, “The Springs: Resort Towns of Sonoma Valley,” to be published March 27 by Arcadia Publishing.
Part of the company’s “Images of America” series, the book highlights photos from the Springs’ history, some from more than a century ago. The book includes stories and pictures from the Gen. Vallejo period, with colorful tales of the “wild west” days and the many local rancheros, and continues up through the years when the Sonoma Valley was a popular spot for visitors seeking the healing and relaxation of the area’s many hot springs.
In researching the book, Acker sought out residents with their own photographs and memories, and spent time searching the history collections of the Sonoma County Library, the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the state Library of California, the Stanford Library, and the San Francisco Public Library. The artwork in the book includes postcards and newspaper clippings.
“They came to me,” Acker said last year, describing how he was approached by Arcadia to tackle the ambitious project. “I’m not sure how they found me, but I nearly turned the project down, because I knew how complicated it would be. But I definitely wanted to see this book done, and I’m the person to do it, so I finally said yes.”
His hope, he said, is that the book will demonstrate that the Springs is much more than just a series of shops and houses people pass through to get to someplace else.
“I hope the book will give people who live here a sense of pride in their home,” he said. “And, that it will increase the lens of history of the Springs, which has always been a bit in the shadow of the history of Sonoma. But the Springs has its own story, its own history. I want this book to be that story.”
Michael Acker will be presenting and signing copies of “The Springs: Resort Towns of the Sonoma Valley,” at Readers Books on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. 130 E. Napa St.
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