Sonoma West Times and News Building - Downtown Sebastopol vintage

DOWNTOWN SEBASTOPOL — This photo, taken around 1970, shows the 100 block of South Main Street looking east with parked cars of various makes and years. At the far left is the Bank of Sonoma County with Sierra National Bank, The Sebastopol Times and Joe’s Budget Shop sit on the southeast side of street. The street still had two way traffic at that time.

The following snippets of history were prepared by volunteers at the Western Sonoma County Historical Society. For more information about local history, go to the WSCHS website at, or email comments or questions about this History Corner to Mary Dodgion at

100 Years Ago — 1919

Analy’s Potato Expert Received New Honors

From the Riverside convention of horticultural experts comes word that new honors have been conferred upon Mrs. Hilda B. Nielson of Sebastopol, who was acknowledged by the convention to be the greatest potato authority in eight western states. Production of potatoes in California has been decreasing with each year, and Mrs. Nielsen says the fault lies with poor seed.  By a system of hill selection in the field it is believed that standards can be built up and production greatly increased.  W.P. Allowelt from the Department of Agriculture said that this western regulation will be the basis for national action.

Analy Potato Bill Signed by Governor

The potato growers of the western Sonoma sections will be interested in the passing of the potato seed inspection measure, which was signed by Governor Stephen.  Mr. & Mrs. Nielsen of Sebastopol were among the persons present during the passage of the Bill.  Mrs. Nielsen made one of the principal talks for it.  It is hoped with inspection of seed and planting of good seed that the California spuds will again return to their own among the ranks of other tubers.

75 Years Ago — 1944

Publisher of ‘Times’ Buys Building

The Sebastopol Times has a new home.  A real estate transaction took place which made publishers Harlan H. Hoyt and Elmer O. Carlson owners of the building on South Main Street formerly known as the Wester Building.  The building now houses Heatley’s Shoe Shop and McClusky Realty Company office.  Constructed of brick, making it one of the best built structures in town, it offers ample space for the Times office and printing establishment, which will occupy the former bowling alley and McClusky’s.  The Times has been housed in its present location since 1928.  Its publishers feel that the post-war era will see Sebastopol grow both in agriculture and industry and in order to be ready for the period of growth they must be established in a building which will fulfill their needs.

50 Years Ago — 1969

Charter Members of Hessel Union Church Honored in 25th Anniversary

The Hessel Union Church has launched a 25th anniversary year celebration program.  It began with a float entry in the Apple Blossom parade.  The second event was a pot-luck dinner in Fellowship Hall.  More than 200 attended to honor charter members of the church.  Those who signed the charter 25 years ago were present at the dinner and included Eric Volkerts, Emma Haire, Anna Frazer, Lena Volkerts, Mrs. Joseph Hessel, William Davis, Mrs. E.M. French and Mr. and Mrs. Jens Sondergaard.  Though the Sunday school was organized 60 years ago, it has been a church for only 25 years.

Happenings at West County Museum:

The Western Sonoma County Historical Society is a wholly volunteer organization and includes West County Museum and the Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol. Our mission is to preserve the west county’s historic past. We are looking for old photos and stories of families, businesses, farms, etc. Do you have photos or stories to share? Call 829-6711, 823-0884 or 829-1757.

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