The locally famous but oft-overlooked Hooker House, nestled at the back of El Paseo alley off First Street East, will soon be getting a lot more foot traffic. Its owner, the League for Historic Preservation, has listed the quaint 1,160-square-foot house for lease, and local brokers are touting it as an ideal site for a tasting room. League President Prema Behan was out of the country at press time and not reachable for comment.

The house has been available for lease since the beginning of the year.

The wooden salt-box style house came pre-cut from Sweden and was erected in the 1850s by Joseph Hooker, an Army Lieutenant Colonel who was stationed in Sonoma at that time. He soon sold it to Catherine Vasquez, and her husband Pedro, who lived in it for the next 50 years.

According to Bill Lynch, former editor and publisher of the Index-Tribune, the Lynch family purchased the house in the 1960s and they donated it to the League in the mid-1970s, when it moved from First Street West to its present location, which is formally listed as 404 First St. E.

Reconstruction was undertaken by the League with donations of materials and labor from the community. The house opened as the Vasquez House in 1976 and housed both historic records and a public tea room. In 2009, the tea room was closed, and the name was changed to the General Joseph Hooker House. During its subsequent years as a small museum, the site welcomed 5,000 people annually.

Many locals believe the name of the house relates to a long-rumored past use of the building, and they are not entirely wrong. According to a past docent at the museum, Gen. Hooker had a reputation for soliciting ladies of the night.

The Hooker House leasing price is $4,500 per month for the historic building and its exterior patio. Offered concurrently but as part of a separate transaction is the former 407-square-foot space currently occupied by Himalayan Bazar, which is available for $2,400 month.

The land beneath both Hooker House and the other El Paseo properties is owned by privately held Mill Valley-based Redbird Investments, LLC. The League only owns the actual Hooker House structure, not the land it sits on.

The leasing agent is Ryan Snow of W Commercial Real Estate in Sonoma.

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.