The Murray House

The Murray House, Bodega Corners circ. 1890.  This two-story building, for a period of time, was used as a Hotel by the Murray Family.  Its current address is 17135 Bodega Highway, Bodega CA, and can be seen directly across the street from St. Theresa’s Church in Bodega.

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

April 1921

Court order signed establishing Mirabel pit

A court order signed this day, permits the estate of William C. Chisholm and Nettie B. Chisholm, owners of the Wohler Ranch, entering into a contract with the Mirabel Gravel Company to remove gravel from a certain portion of the ranch through which Mark West Creek flows, and for a right of way across the ranch to the gravel pit. A 10-year lease gives five cents a ton on all gravel extracted, but not less than $1,000 a year for the privilege.  The leasing contract also provides 7,500 tons free gravel for the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Electric Railroad company.

April 1946

Two landmarks, one old and one new disappear from Gravenstein Highway

The old landmark to disappear was the large former Joseph Davis dryer which was located at the corner of Bloomfield Road and the Gravenstein Highway.  The ancient structure is being torn down to make way for a proposed grocery store and service station which the new owner, Leonard J. DeVilbiss, intends to build in the future.  All that is left of what was once one of the biggest apple dehydrators in the county is a pile of kiln bricks left from the four large kilns which used to dry the apple crop in that section.  Members of the Davis family estimate that the dryer was built around the turn of the century.

The other landmark to disappear will be missed by flower lovers, is the famous Thompson Dahlia Gardens.  The grower of the beautiful blooms, Mortimore G. Thompson, intends to move to the mountains because of his health.  The two acres have been sold to Lee Wilson, who intends to build a garage, service station and, fruit stand on the property.

April 1971

Students off for a week at camp – who doesn’t remember Camp Caz

One hundred and twenty seventh and eighth graders and five teachers from Forestville School left Sunday afternoon for a week of camp in White Sulfur Springs.  Camp Director Curt Millar made the decision to hold the camp in White Sulphur Springs rather than Cazadero, where it has been held previously because the 8th graders would have been repeating their camp experiences from last year.  From now on, the school will alternate campsites each year, allowing students the opportunity of two camp curriculums. 

April 2021

West County Museum happenings

Archivist working from home

Volunteer Sally Morrison reports that the museum received a donation from Gary Smith of Anacortes, WA who donated 250+ photographs of his family ancestors whose names are Murray, Morris, Purrine, of Bodega, CA.  With the help of much has been learned of their ancestors and Bodega neighbors including immigrants from Ireland, England, Switzerland and Bavaria. The Murrays owned the Murray House hotel at Bodega Corners.  Mr. Smith also donated an antique stereograph photo holder and over 150 stereoscopic cards that were used at the Murray House hotel for the entertainment of guests.

And Mary Dodgion has been working on a small batch of images from the Sonoma West Times negative film collection, which the museum is the repository.  Last year, volunteer, Theresa Lynch began digitizing images from 1964 and was making great progress when the brakes were applied.  From home, Mary began looking at each image and used the Sebastopol Times newspaper to help get the story behind the image and to include people and places in them.  The community assisted, through the Facebook group “I Grew Up In Sebastopol in the 70s.”  One hundred and eighty-seven images have been completed, a small dent in the more than 10,000 images in this collection.  This is an area where volunteers are needed.

Mary also did a complete audit of the archives section of our museum software, making sure there were no spelling errors, that metadata was complete, and that all images were of good quality.  There is word that these files will be made available through the Sonoma County Library in the future.

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