Best in the League, Preservation Awards honor Sonoma’s character

In keeping with its mission to identify, preserve and promote the historic architectural character of the City of Sonoma and its surrounds, the Sonoma League for Historical Preservation celebrates outstanding people and projects with its annual Preservation Awards.

This year, seven awards were presented at the League’s November 20 event. Here, with comments from that presentation, are the 2013 Preservation Award Winners.

Stewards of the Land: Bette A. and Milton Holloway

When Bette and Milt Holloway bought their property on Seventh St. E. in 1975, they started improvements even before they moved in.  They are honored for not only what they’ve done to their property, but they haven’t done.

In addition to their home, Bette and Milt’s property is comprised of seven outbuildings including buildings for the working turkey farm that used to be on the property.  Their preservation and reuse of all these buildings, and the objects left behind by former owners, is remarkable.  They used the outbuildings to keep their own infrequently used items and memorabilia in storage but the result is to give a sense of a casual museum of household objects. Milt has adapted the buildings for their own use (one turned into a greenhouse via the use of old windows) but the period incubators and metal egg storage remains.

Just as unique was their approach to their gardens, and the literal and figurative cultivation of the “spaces” between:  an old mint green sink has become a planter; scrap metal has been shaped and welded and turned into wall art and garden sculptures; an almost circular grove of trees has become a special seating area for friends and family to gather -– perhaps to even sit on a tread of a metal spiral stairway that belonged to a friend.  It “didn’t fit” its intended use, but fits perfectly in the grove. We thank them for sharing the delights of their property.

Award of Excellence: Bohar Residence

For Reconstruction, Renovation and Preservation of an Historic 1885 Home, the league honored owners Christine and Jim Bohar, architects David Trachtenberg and Robert Nishimori of Trachtenberg Architects, contractor Mike Frost of Scout Construction, painter Dustin O’Brien and landscape designer June King.

The house and property at 299 First Street West was owned by a number of leading families of Sonoma. It remained well maintained and historically intact, but lacked the conveniences and warmth of today’s homes. The Bohar home was completely renovated while restoring the exterior to its original form, but completely redoing the interior. A new barn-like garage with upstairs studio and new landscape and hardscape completed the project. The resulting home and landscape marries the two into a single, inviting living space. While the house retains its modest size, the openness of the design makes it feel larger that it is.

After several tries at possible plans it became obvious that modification was not feasible. So they launched into planning a complete new construction on the 50’ by 100’ lot.  The goal was to have a slight increase in living space with higher ceilings, less garage, and a more inviting street presence. During the planning stage they spoke and listened to neighbor’s opinions about their plans, and received neighbors’ support for the project before submitting it to the City of Sonoma.

The result is a contemporary living space with a nod to traditional style, with suggestions of craftsman, industrial, recycled and repurposed elements. The south-facing patio of the new house was constructed from remnants of the old broken concrete driveway and is used for outdoor living and dining. The front landscape incorporates artichokes, persimmon, citrus and fig trees. Included in the mix are drought resistant ornamentals.

With spaces for entertaining, along with a private retreat, the home is just … a Quiet Little House.

Award of Excellence: Two Palms Estate

The house at 131 Fourth Street East, formerly known as the “Haunted House”, stood empty for over 30 years. Its former owner, unhappy with the city over permits and other issues, left it abandoned and vacant. Once overgrowth on the property was cleared the great old craftsman-looking house appeared.

For Reconstruction, Renovation and Preservation of an Historic 1910 Home, the League honors: Bill Jasper, owner; Robert Baumann, architect; Jon Curry, general contractor; Christine Curry, interior design; and Brett McPherson, landscape design.

The home has been completely renovated with an expansion to the rear of the house to add a new kitchen, family room and garage on the first floor and master bedroom, bath and den on the second floor. Original stone walls, fountains and well house were restored surrounded by new hardscape and landscaping. The result is a 1910 craftsman home which meets all current building codes in a palatial, peaceful setting with the feeling of a bygone era.

Award of Excellence: Fat Pilgrim

For his improvements to the retail property at 20820 Broadway, owner Craig Miller was honored in the category for Major Reconstruction and Preservation of a Commercial Building.

The 1.3 acre property was first developed in the 40s, and by 1952, it was the Jackpot Gas Station, with the proprietors living in the very simple structure to the south of the property. Not much is known about those times or the family history, but when Craig Miller purchased the property in 2010, its past was worn clearly on its’ face.

The most recent manifestations of the two main buildings have been as an art gallery, antique shop, a junk-tique shop, and the Visitor’s Center. After standing empty for some time, the buildings were in incredible disrepair, and only the brave-hearted Miller would tackle such a project. A true aficionado of historic and vintage structures. he took on the daunting task of renovation and restoring the buildings to usable and quaint condition, by repurposing, reusing or recycling materials from one derelict building to upgrade his retail shop or the buildings on either side.

The floors in the main building have their original wood flooring on what is the same foot print as the 50s gas station. All of the outdoor structures are in their original spot; no buildings were demolished or moved during this labor of love. Any salvageable materials, doors, wood interior walls, floors, windows, from the property were saved and reused or repurposed to help maintain the original historic character on this unique property.

Award of Excellence: A Quiet Little House

Owners Bill Strid and Warrant Bryant were honored For New Construction Compatible with an Existing Historic Neighborhood for their 287 Second Street East home.

The 1950’s ranch-style was home to Virginia “Polly” Ehret who was a neighborhood favorite regularly hosting impromptu cocktail parties in her two-car garage and was the unofficial day-care provider for the neighborhood kids. Bill Strid and Warren Bryant moved in with a desire to retain the single story house that Polly called home.

Award of Merit: Andrews Hall

In the category of Groups and Individuals Providing Leadership in Preservation, the award recognizes Kathy Swett, Jack Lundgren, Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Theatre Alliance, architect Mark T. Perry, and Les Peterson of Peterson Mechanical

The Sonoma Community Center (SCC) was built in 1916 and originally was used as a grammar school.  Dr. Carroll B. Andrews bought the structure in February of 1952 for the purpose of turning it into a Community Center. He paid $28,500. Its mission was and still is, to be an ongoing source of education and cultural connectivity.

That required extensive renovation, including the transformation of Andrews Hall from a multi-use hall to a Sonoma’s first and only performance venue. To achieve improvements the original hall was almost completely gutted. The work included installation of a new floor, all new acoustical treatments, new accessible restroom, a new box office, new marquee, a new electrical system to support state of the art sound and light equipment, a new stage and window draperies. The renovated mezzanine with provides better site-lines and improved seating.

The Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley issued a $100,000 Challenge Grant to the community, and Sonoma Theatre Alliance (STA) spent nearly three seasons fundraising to purchase the fixed seating for the hall. Mark T. Perry, owner of MTP Architecture + Green Consultants, donated many hours of service to the Center in the planning stages of this project.

The Stone Barn at Glen Oaks Ranch

Glen Oaks Ranch. located on Highway 12 just outside of Glen Ellen, was once a part of a land grant issued to General Vallejo in 1839. When one of its early owners, Colonel Charles Stuart, the ranch was one of the largest wine producers in the state.  His wife, Ellen, then began managing the winery and became one of California’s first woman winemakers.

In 1994, after several more changes in ownership, the property was accepted into the National Registry of Historic Places. In 2002, the land was bequeathed to the Sonoma Land Trust. In 2010, an anonymous donor offered to provide half of the cost of completing all of the seismic retrofitting and preservation needed for the stone barn, and the Land Trust committed to raising the balance of the funds.

Degenkolb Engineers drafted the construction plans by the end of that same year. Treeline Construction worked closely with the Land Trust and the engineers to refine plan details while permits were being secured.  During construction, Treeline provided key solutions to safeguard the integrity of the structure.

Due to the efforts of the Sonoma Land Trust and Treeline Construction, the Stone Barn at Glen Oaks Ranch will stand strong for many years to come on the gentle hillside near Stuart Creek


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