Bank of sonoma county 1970

1970 Photo taken during the demolition of the Bank of Sonoma County building, 105 N. Main St.  Skeleton of the famed arched windows of the lower floor are visible.  On the street are two unknown individuals, one clearing debris and one observing.  The debris was due to part of a wall collapsing onto the rear of a parked vehicle.  

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

September 1920

New county explored

The meeting of the Sebastopol Commercial Club, held at the Gravenstein Hotel, resolved itself into a protest meeting before the evening was over. Some residents expressed themselves over the attitude of county seat officials and residents in doing what they can to deter the building of highways in Sonoma County. As one member ably expressed the sentiment of those present, “The county officials forget that they are our servants and they are attempting to be our bosses and it is time that some action was taken to make them realize that they are sub-servant to our wishes.” The words were heartily applauded.

Requests for improvements have been ignored by the Board of Supervisors. Naturally in the face of these slights, the bond of friendship between Sebastopol and Petaluma has grown stronger. It is this attitude that has caused the Commercial Club and many residents of this section to seriously consider the establishment of the new county. The facts on the establishment of a new county were ably presented by J. Emmett Olmstead, Homer W. Wood, E.E. Drees, and J.W. Elder. Each speaker took a different phase of the subject and was very conversant with the facts. From the statements made by the speakers, taxes in the new county will be considerably less than those in the present county, figures are based on estimates from other small counties in the state.

While Petaluma was not asking the Gold Ridge to join at present, there would be no objection to annexation after the new county is formed. It would be safe to say that if a vote were taken, at present a 75% vote could be secured without difficulty.

Members of the Commercial Club express themselves as favorable to a county division. They suggested a boundary at the Laguna and advocated running the line right through the center of the present county. Resolving; that Petaluma being the natural outlet and gateway to our section gives a common sense for the division; that Petaluma is the most progressive city in the County; that the bond of friendship always has existed between the two communities; that a fairer representation in county government could be secured through a small county and that this section would be assured of decent roads and highways.

September 1945

New building will house bowling alley on Main Street

Mr. Max Benthall is erecting a new building on North Main Street in Sebastopol to house a modern, up to the minute bowling establishment, featuring four alleys and the latest in bowling equipment. The building will have a vitrolite front, a balcony above the street, and an inside mezzanine floor forty-five feet wide. This new recreation center, fountain, and bowling alley will be under the direct management of Mr. L.H. Barter of Richmond. Mr. Barter has been with the Speckles’ Sugar Company for twelve years, is well versed in the art of bowling and a capable instructor.

September 1970

Bank wall comes down

Demolition of the old Bank of Sonoma County building came to a crashing climax when the wall facing Sebastopol Avenue fell on a parked car. Partially buried under the rubble was a car owned by Berkey Photo Processing of San Francisco. The driver of the vehicle, a Berkey employee, was not in the car when the accident occurred. The vehicle was damaged on the top and right side, but not seriously enough to cause mechanical problems. As soon as the rubble was cleared, it was driven away. The bank was built shortly after the 1906 earthquake from locally quarried sandstone, which, along with the mortar, has deteriorated over the years.

September 2020 – West County Museum happenings

The museum exhibit, “Suffrage Headquarters” has been completed and is ready for business. That is as soon as the county releases museums and libraries from the restrictions due to COVID. In the meantime you can take a virtual tour by visiting our website. It should be live in just a couple of weeks. Also watch for future opportunities to visit the Museum for a closer look.

While you are at the website, look for a filmed interview with Frank Baumgardner. His latest book titled, “Golden Dreams: True Stories of Adventure in the California Gold Rush,” is available through Amazon and our museum gift shop.

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