Five years ago (2012), Liz and I came to Sonoma County to blend and bottle Malbec wine with the Cache Valley Reserve team at J. Rickard’s Winery. The first year, we stayed in Geyserville at a B n B just a mile or two from the winery. It was an old Victorian turn of the century mansion. The second year, we stayed at another B n B in Healdsburg on Dry Creek Road called the Irish Rose Inn. It too was an old early 1900’s home converted into a bed and breakfast. What we learned was that we really didn’t care much for B and B’s. We wanted our own place with cooking facilities. By year 3, Airbnb had taken off and we found Susan and Todd’s Little House on the Hill (you’ve seen pics in previous posts) in Cloverdale, California. This is our third season in the small studio cabin with a view over the Russian River Alexander Valley area.
People always ask us, “Why Cloverdale and not Healdsburg?” (Healdsburg is the very cool, very trendy center of all things Sonoma Wine Country) I reply, why not? Cloverdale is a town of 8000 of folks who live and work in the area. It is much more affordable in just about every way. It is only about 5 minutes from the closest winery, and 10 minutes to Rickards winery and about 100 other wineries. Cloverdale is earthy but up and coming. There is a performing arts center and hall that seats a few hundred patrons , some good restaurants, an easy walk from one end to other and a community all natural grocery store. Did I mention super unleaded is $2.89? Compare that to 3.19 in Healdsburg and 3.49 in Sausalito.
Many of you know that I love homes. Homes of all styles and time periods. Although I only care to live in modern structures, I am fascinated by Victorians, English tudors, 40’s bungalows, turn of the century craftsman homes and just about every other type and style. So, with that in mind, let’s walk Cloverdale (settled in the mid 1800’s – at least non natives) and have a look at a few of the structures. Keep in mind that there are dozens of homes similar to the ones shown below. These are just a few of my faves.
Let’s start with the Congregational Church on “main street” which is actually Cloverdale Blvd. This is the old highway, before the 101 was built, and Main Street proper is one block over (and uneventful). The church was built in 1869 and the organ was powered by a wheel connected to the city water system. in 1979 it became the Congregational Church:
Just two doors or so down is the Victorian built in 1903, built by a local drug store owner. After that, it served as a Doctor’s residence until the 1960’s. For a short while, 1920’s, the upstairs served as a hospital.
Next to the above is a Dutch Colonial, built in the 1920’s. My brother Bruce would like this house, so I include it here:
Same street, the main drag through Cloverdale, is this turn of the century gem. Doctors occupied this home as well:
Around the corner on Third Street, a circa 1880’s home for nurses during the 1920’s. Note the door set back, in the front, on the left. It was used for coffins, so that the dead would not need to be transported through the front door:
Finally, the last home of interest on the main drag, the oldest home in Cloverdale built in 1862. It is the oldest documented building in Cloverdale and is a rare example of Gothic Revival style characterized by steeply pitched roofs, pointed arch windows, high dormers and elaborate trim at the roof line:
There are few interesting commercial buildings along the main drag as well. The performing arts center refurbished and reopened 10 years ago. This past TH, we went and saw the play Agnes of God (movie version 1985, Jane Fonda), a dark tale of a young pregnant nun….
The Druids Building, 1923, replaced the imposing 2 story Union Hall (1884) which burned down in 1915 wiping out the entire block including the Humbert’s Opera House and the Cloverdale Hotel. The current building houses a few shops, an eatery and a mom and pop convenience store. The redwood is in the middle of the street:
This 1907 Italianate structure housed the Bank of Cloverdale, organized in 1884 by one of the town’s leading merchants. It became the First National Bank of Cloverdale and occupied this space for 43 years. It is currently vacant:
Pick’s Drive In started out in the 1920’s and by some accounts, is the oldest still operating Drive in burger joint in the US. They serve wine, beer, shakes, ice cream, root beer and every kind of burger and dog you can imagine. The place is always packed.
We were lucky to snap the pic right before they opened for lunch on Saturday morning.
At the other end of town, Cloverdale resurrected and reassembled the old train station. It is now a great little bar and grill. This first pic is for Jack. Apparently, in some other life, he lived right here at the train station:
Of course the sign is lit up at night. Here’s the whole station:
Off the beaten path is the turn of the century hotel/brothel which now houses the scankiest bar in town called Dante’s:
For some reason, Episcopal churches are often the cutest in town. Cloverdale is no exception sporting this 1886 Gothic style church, made from California redwood and square nails manufactured right on site:
And finally, along with the church above, is a Queen Anne Victorian on Main Street proper. This dwelling is listed on the National Historic Register and was built in 1901 by a wealthy merchant and mining executive. It is now a beautifully restored bread and breakfast, complete with front yard vineyard. The owners also make wine from the several acres of vineyards nearby, and even supply the performing arts center with libations for their productions.
Across the street is a craftsman home built in 1914, on two adjacent lots that cost $10. The family continuously occupied the home until 1985.
So there you have it; a partial walking tour of Cloverdale Blvd and Main Street. The side streets sport many more old homes mixed in with pads built from the 20’s til today.
This gives you a taste of where we’ve been hanging out for the past month. We have one week to go and plan to hit a few more wineries, attend the Twomey (owned by Silver Oak, but better) spring release party, and stop by to say good bye to Jim and Eliza Rickards and their crew. I will blog again as we head toward Oregon Pinot Noir land, just South of Portland. There is no rest for the weary!