A long road lay ahead for James Wyatt Oates in 1909, and he was determined to drive every last mile of it.

Santa Rosa was quite the car-crazy town that year. Someone’s purchase of a new auto merited an item in the Press Democrat, the same as for a birth announcement; when the latest models arrived for sale it was important enough for a full article (it probably didn’t hurt that the downtown dealerships were increasingly buying large ads in the paper). And for years to come, Santa Rosans would still be talking about the 1909 California Grand Prize Race, which drew thousands of visitors to town and was won by local hero Ben Noonan. But probably no one here was burning with auto fever more than the 59 year-old attorney with the fine house on Mendocino Avenue.

Prior to his buying a car, Mattie and Wyatt Oates could be counted upon to host spectacular parties at their home. In 1908, two hundred guests showed up for an engagement party, and there were at least four major parties at (what would become known as) Comstock House in 1907. But in 1909 there was only a small dinner party and a couple of weekends with house guests. Mattie Oates and her mother did host a debutante party for a trio of young women, but it was held at the Saturday Afternoon Club and not at the Oates’ home, as in years past.

Although their social calendar was nearly blank that year, Oates’ name appeared in the papers far more than before, as the “Colonel” took family and friends daytripping. Off to the Petrified Forest, Healdsburg, Inverness, Mendocino County. Their house guests “were taken on a number of excellent auto trips in Judge Oates’ splendid machine” and always, “the Colonel’s fine touring car ran like a charm.”

Thanks to Oates’ weakness for bragging, we know exactly the make and model of his ride: It was a 1909 Chalmers-Detroit “30” touring car, with a top speed of about 50 MPH and boasted about 25 miles per gallon. (Pictured below is the 1910 model, which differed only slightly.) The surprise here is that Oates chose a mid-price, mid-performance vehicle – even Chalmers-Detroit offered models that were faster, larger, or more luxe in other ways. The “30” was, however, reliable; the roadster version won a race that year for being the only car that crossed the finish line without problems. Still, one might have expected Oates to pick something flashier; it’s a bit like discovering your teenage son, who just won’t shut up about the latest and greatest ends up passing by a tricked-out Corvette for a sensible Honda SUV.

The new car brought entry into a new social circle, most prominently friendship with 43 year-old widow Dorothy Farmer (think Farmer’s Lane). That summer Mrs. Farmer purchased a Packard in Los Angeles and drove all the way to Santa Rosa with her 22 year-old daughter, Hazel. No easy feat, that, in the day when roads were horse trails; expect to find more about the remarkable Dorothy Farmer in future pages.

It was also probably gratifying that Oates, an outsider by nature, was elected president of the Sonoma County Automobile Association that year. As the primary aim of the group was to lobby for better roads, Oates finally had the opportunity to follow his famous brother into politicking, albeit in a small way.

The Association’s meeting was held at a redwood grove easily reachable by autos (natch) and the highlight was a surprise drop-in by Ben Noonan in his race car. “When Noonan stepped from his machine he was immediately surrounded by a band of the younger element present,” the PD reported. There under the “glorious shade of stately redwoods and alongside a sparkling, babbling brook,” three generations shared their madness for motorcars and the bright future for same.

Col. and Mrs. Oates have received their new automobile. They anticipate enjoying my much pleasure out of the machine.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat,  October 3, 1908

Colonel J. W. Oates is just longing for sunshine so that he can get out his Chalmers-Detroit touring car. He is promising himself all kinds of good rides.

– “Autos and Drivers and Other Notes” Press Democrat,  January 24, 1909

Colonel James W. Oates and a party of ladies drove to Healdsburg on Thursday in Mr. Oates’ Chalmers-Detroit.

– “Auto Notes” Santa Rosa Republican, March 19, 1909

Colonel James W. Oates and party spent Sunday at the Petrified Forest and on Porter Creek. They drove in the Colonel’s handsome touring car.

– “Busy Times With Automobiles” Press Democrat,  April 27, 1909

Several days ago Colonel and Mrs. James W. Oates and Mrs. M. S. Solomon enjoyed a drive and outing in their fine touring car, visiting the Petrified Forest and other places of interest in that section. The Oates’ take much pleasure out of their machine.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat,  May 2, 1909


Judge and Mrs. James W. Oates are entertaining Captain and Mrs. John B. Milton, of Mare Island, the visitors having come to the City of Roses to view the pretty Rose Carnival. Captain Milton is commander of the “Independent,” the receiving ship at Mare Island, and a man prominent in naval affairs. He and Judge Oates are friends of many years’ standing, and are linked together by peculiar circumstances which cements this friendship the more firmly. They became particular friends back in 1879, when Captain Milton first came to the Pacific coast from Annapolis, and Judge Oates was then residing in the metropolis. Mrs. Oates, then Miss Mattie Solomon, introduced Captain Milton to Miss Hattie Steele, and he wooed and won the heart and hand of that lady. She is the granddaughter of Commander Steele. Captain Milton, in turn, introduced Judge Oates to Miss Mattie Solomon, and the gallant judge lost no time in wooing Miss Solomon and asking her to be the partner of his joys for life. The reunion of these four people here at the Oates home is one of the joyous occasions of their lives and they are enjoying it right merrily. Captain Milton and his wife are affable people, and are making friends of all they meet in the City of Roses.

–  Santa Rosa Republican, May 8, 1909

Colonel Oates and the Rev. George T. Baker enjoyed a drive to Healdsburg the other night in the Colonel’s fine touring car.

– “Busy Times With Automobiles” Press Democrat, May 29, 1909

Colonel and Mrs. James W. Oates and Mr. And Mrs. Shirley Burris had a very delightful trip into Lake and Mendocino counties last Saturday and Sunday. There was not the slightest hitch to and the pleasure and the Colonel’s fine touring car ran like a charm.

– “Busy Times With Automobiles” Press Democrat, June 5, 1909

Talk about feeling good, then Colonel James W. Oates was the man after the wires had flashed the news that the Chalmers-Detroit car had won the great Indiana trophy race. Colonel Oates has a Chalmers-Detroit of exactly the same make an model of the one that carried off the honors.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat,  June 20, 1909


Judge and Mrs. James W. Oates entertained some friends at a week-end party at their handsome home on Mendocino avenue last week. Miss Madge Fairman of San Francisco, Miss Sadie Morrell of Duncan’s Mills, and Charles H. S. Rule of Duncan’s Mills were the guests. They had a delightful time in the City of Roses with their charming hosts, and besides the hospitable entertainment at the Oates home, were taken on a number of excellent auto trips in Judge Oates’ splendid machine. The guests spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Oates home.

–  Santa Rosa Republican, July 12, 1909

At their picturesque home on Mendocino avenue Saturday night Colonel and Mrs. James Wyatt Oates had a very charming and unique affair. If was very informal, too, and was in the nature of a “Bohemian Evening.” One feature was a Spanish supper. The menu was composed of many dainties and the idea of the party was carried out down to the colors, very cleverly by Mrs. Oates, who is always equal to any occasion when it comes to delightful entertaining. Her gusts on this occasion were loud in their praises of her hospitality. The decorations were also in keeping with the general scheme. Mrs. Rogers of San Francisco, wife of an army officer, who has been here for a visit with Mrs. Edward F. Woodward, and also with Mrs. Dorothy Farmer and Mr. Spitz of Los Angeles, were the guests of honor. The guests lingered long at the tables enjoying the good things and the entertaining conversation. Then the remainder of the evening was devoted to music and other forms of entertainment.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat,  August 9, 1909

Colonel and Mrs. James W. Oates and Mr. And Mrs. Shirley Burris will drive in the Colonel’s big touring car to Inverness today. They will return this evening.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat,  August 15, 1909

Mrs. Oates and Mrs. Solomon Entertain in Honor of Three Popular Young Ladies

At the Clubhouse on Tenth street last night there was a large and brilliant party given by Mrs. James W. Oates and her mother, Mrs. M. S. Solomon.

The function was in honor of Miss Catherine Rockwell, Miss Margaret Metcalf and Miss Hazel Farmer, and they certainly must have felt much complimented at the attention shown them.

The hospitality shown by the hostesses was very delightful, and all their guests spent a very enjoyable evening. Dancing was the principal feature of entertainment.

– Press Democrat,  August 27, 1909

Hon. James W. Oates Elected President-Basket Picnic Enjoyed

Sunday was a bid day for the autoists from all over the county, as the annual election of officers and a basket picnic was held by the Sonoma County Automobile Association at Bice’s redwood grove, three milse southeast of Healdsburg, and to it came automobiles from every part of the county…


…After luncheon had been served the business meeting was called to order by Dr. J. H. Seawell of Healdsburg, vice president of the association. Attorney J. Rollo Leppo is on a vacation and was not able to be in attendance. Secretary Don Prentiss had the top of a large rock for his table and sat on the ground. Hon. James W. Oates was the only nominee for president for the ensuing year, being nominated by Dr. S. S. Bogle and seconded by Attorney Edward M. Norton of Healdsburg. Dr. Harry Leppo  moved the nominations be closed and the motion was seconded by Sheriff John K. Smith. The question being put, it was unanimously carried and the secretary was instructed to cast a ballot to elect Judge Oates unanimously.

Answering a general call from the members for a speech, Judge Oates spoke to those assembled with a few well chose words, admonishing them that it is the duty of all to co-ojerate [sic] for the betterment of good roads. He stated that California has reached that point where the question of good roads is the paramount issue of our time. He said the question was of as much concern to the farmer as any one else, and in fast more than to the autoist, as the automobile could go where the good roads are, while the farmer must travel the road in his immediate vicinity. The speaker called attention to the bill that passed the last legislature, providing for the people to vote on the question of bonding the state for $18,000,000, with which to build connecting highways between all county seats in the state…


…Great satisfaction was fe;t and expressed by the members that Judge Oates accepted the office tendered him and all feel that he will inject much interest into the good road question during his term in office.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 30, 1909

Annual Meeting of the Sonoma County Association

Beneath the glorious shade of stately redwoods and alongside a sparkling, babbling brook, in a dell replete with natural embellishments to make it an ideal picnic ground, the Sonoma County Automobile Association met on Sunday morning to hold its annual meeting [to] name its new officers…


…Colonel Oates, the new president, was called upon for a speech. His reply was brief and well chosen. He told of the important factor the Association had been and would be in the promulgation of the doctrine of good roads and in bringing a successful outcome of it all. He thanked the Association for the honor done him in electing him president, and asked the hearty co-operation of all the members, and interest that would increase the membership and bring together all in one common aim for the betterment of good roads, and the accomplishment of legislation that would be for the benefit of all concerned…


…Ben Noonan drove a party of friends to the picnic grounds in his great racing Stoddard-Dayton “No. 12.” When Noonan stepped from his machine he was immediately surrounded by a band of the younger element present, headed by Harrison Leppo. They immediately took possession of Mr. Noonan and he was soon answering many questions propounded by Leppo, Jr. Not foolish questions either. It is doubtful if a more intelligent lad for his years on the matter of auto mechanism can be found anywhere. He and Louis Norton, son of the Healdsburg attorney, share honors.

– Press Democrat, August 31, 1909

Colonel and Mrs. James W. Oates and Mrs. Solomon drove to the suburban home of Mr. and Mrs. Blitz W. Paxton, near Healdsburg, the other day. They were much interested in watching the harvesting of the hop crop.

– “Society Gossip” Press Democrat, September 12, 1909

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 If Comstock House was haunted, I expect it would be the ghost of Mattie Oates. This was first and foremost her home; she was clearly the client that architect  Brainerd Jones’ had to please, even though husband James Wyatt wrote the checks (his main concern was “there will not be a parlor in the whole house and there will not be a room in which I can’t smoke,” he repeatedly said). Yet of all the 20th century owners, she had the shortest time to enjoy living here – just nine years, with about a third of her tenure confined as a invalid.

Such little of her remains aside from the house itself. She left no immediate family. We have a blurry picture of her in a group photo of the Saturday Afternoon Club. She once said she wanted Virginia creeper to “run in profusion over the trees,” and the vine still climbs the great oak behind her old home. The only physical artifact is her nearly worn-to-dust copy of the Jewel Cook Book, which we found on a bookshelf in the study (interestingly, none of the Comstocks recalled seeing it before).

Even her presence in that book is tenuous; her name is softly written on an endpage, and there are pencilled notes on a single recipe for drawn butter. Other than that, it appears the book was rarely used, except a dog-eared page for apple dumplings and a recipe for corn muffins torn from a San Francisco (?) newspaper. The book falls open to the page on making pancakes. All basic stuff that suggests the kitchen was somewhat uncharted territory for Mrs. Oates. Which makes it even more surprising to find an item in the April 25, 1909 Press Democrat “Society Gossip” column that she gave a presentation to the Saturday Afternoon Club on “Economics of Modern Cookery.” As the first section of the Jewel Cook Book discusses how to shop wisely and prepare meals economically, it’s a safe bet that these very pages were used to prepare her speech.

Aside from the remarkable fact that a 120-year-old personal book of hers has even survived, it’s not unusual to discover she had such a volume. Probably every home in Victorian America had a copy of this book or another like it; they were often given as wedding presents to new brides (not in this case however; the Jewel Cook Book was published in 1890, and Mattie and Wyatt married in 1881). These books showed you how to prepare hearty grub for the hard-working family, and also served as a reference on how to take care of your household. They offered recipes for gravy and how to remove gravy stains; how to cure bacon and how to cure a headache.

The Jewel Cook Book – or more properly, “Jewel Cook Book: A Compendium of Useful Information Pertaining to Every Branch of Domestic Economy. A Manual for Every Household, Also a Book of Knowledge and Guide to Rapid Wealth” – is a bit more interesting than other housekeeping/cookbooks from that era.* One of the three co-authors was chemist, and there is a lengthy section with recipes for cure-alls, ointments, perfume, toothpaste and whatnot. But what really gave the Jewel Cook Book added value was its section on how to make all kinds of brewed and distilled liquor.

The book also offers many examples of hilariously bad advice. Douse your family in kerosene as a mosquito repellent (“the odor is not noticed after a few minutes, and children especially are much relieved by its use”). If someone is struck by lightning, “shower with cold water for two hours; if the patient does not show signs of life, put salt in the water, and continue to shower an hour longer.” And then there’s the contradictory instructions about treating a bite from a rabid animal: “The only safe remedy in case of a bite from a dog suspected of madness is to burn out the wound thoroughly with red-hot iron,” the authors suggest on page 272. Then in the “Book of Knowledge” section, it’s stated “Spirits of Hartshorn is said to be a certain remedy for the bite of a mad dog…an old friend and physician tried it in cases of Hydrophobia and always with success.”

Alas, the book is not specific about its “Guide to Rapid Wealth,” unless that was a wink towards the section on cooking up moonshine. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine how anyone would get rich quick by peddling homemade cosmetics or writing ink. Yet they did offer one interesting idea for a home business – I wonder why it never caught on?

New Method of Embalming–Mix together five pounds dry sulphate of alumine, one quart of warm water, and one hundred grains of arsenious acid. Inject three or four quarts of this mixture into all the vessels of the human body. This applies as well to all animals, birds, fishes, &c. This process supersedes the old and revolting mode, and has been introduced into the great anatomical schools of Paris.

* Victorian American housekeeping/cookbooks are hard to find today, despite the immense numbers that were sold. These books were printed on cheap paper and poorly bound; with regular use, it’s likely most fell apart in the lifetime of their original owners. A digital copy of the Jewel Cook Book is available for online reading via Utah State University, but I am unable to find another paper copy for sale anywhere. This 1890 book is not to be confused with the “Jewel Cook Book Containing Choice Cooking Recipes” published in 1900 by a stove company or “Jewel Cook Book: Recipes for Good Eating” published in 1940 by the Jewel Tea Co.

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It was an unusual sight, that foggy morning in mid-August, 1908. Dozens of women, most of them elderly and all of them clearly well-to-do, judging by their fine clothes and elaborate hats, were standing together in a vacant lot. More unusual was that this group of women jointly owned the property – or rather, it belonged to the corporation they had formed to buy it. And more remarkable still, one of the few men on hand that morning was a noted architect with building plans for a meeting house designed under the direction of these same women. None of this might have been noteworthy in San Francisco, Berkeley, or other places where emergent voices for women’s rights and suffrage were loudly heard; but this was taking place in little Santa Rosa, California. It was the ground breaking for the Saturday Afternoon Club.

The day must have been deeply gratifying for Mattie Oates, who is seen over the shoulder of architect Brainerd Jones in the only known surviving photograph of her. It was almost four years to the day since construction had started on her fine new home up the street, and here she was again working closely with Jones in her role as chairman of the building committee. Husband James Wyatt Oates had drawn up the papers of incorporation that had made this all possible.

The event must have been memorable for Brainerd Jones as well. From where he stood for the photographer, he could see three of his best creations lined up in a row: The Lumsden House (now the Belvedere), the Paxton House, and Mattie’s home, which would become known as Comstock House. For the Lumsdens he had built a very pretty Queen Anne – but for the Paxton and Oates families he had created what were probably the most adventurous designs of his career. These homes were in the Eastern Shingle Style/First Bay Region Tradition that strived to be simultaneously rustic and elegant. And now with the similarly brown-shingle clad Saturday Afternoon Club, he made a final statement in an architectural style that he apparently never used again. A few years later in 1913, Jones would design a building for the Petaluma Woman’s Club that had similar dimensions, but was rendered in a far more conservative style.

(RIGHT: Brainerd Jones’ drawing of the Saturday Afternoon Club appeared in both newspapers. A different sketch also appeared in the August 13 Santa Rosa Republican, but the microfilm is such poor quality that it’s not included here. CLICK or TAP any image to enlarge)

Only the Saturday Afternoon Club could have built such a place. The town was awash in “ladies’ clubs” in that era, most with the sole function of planning afternoon card parties and get-togethers held at member’s homes; a Press Democrat columnist guessed there were about 100 women’s clubs, lodges and societies then in Santa Rosa. But no cards were shuffled at meetings of the Saturday Afternoon Club, where women might discuss a member’s report on military tensions in Asia or listen to an amateur soprano from the club’s Etude section warble through a program of Schubert lieder. One of the few personal details we know about Mattie Oates concerns a witty presentation on “The Laws of California as related to Women and Children.”

The Saturday Afternoon Club was a group firmly in the traditions of the club movement, which was founded after the Civil War and took off around the turn of the century. Members were typically older women from the leisure class who sought intellectual challenge and culture. Such lofty aspirations made them easy targets for satirists and jokesters; think of the scene in “The Music Man” where the mayor’s insufferable wife and her dowdy friends clumsily pranced and posed in an ode to a Grecian urn.

The Club was founded in 1894 under the leadership of Jeanette Cochrane, a farmer’s wife who found Santa Rosa to be a cultural sinkhole under the sway of dullards, at least as compared to her former home of Santa Barbara. There she belonged to a small “woman’s club” that discussed literature and lobbied for civic improvements. The Club here certainly pursued literary matters with gusto, but until WWI it was not very active in civic affairs, perhaps because Santa Rosa had a busy “Woman’s Improvement Club” that was tirelessly working for the town’s betterment, such as coordinating with the S.P.C.A. to raise watering troughs to make them more humane for thirsty horses and cleaning up the Rural Cemetery. Rarely were members of that group singled out by the newspapers, but the names that did appear were almost always prominent members of the Saturday Afternoon Club, suggesting there was substantial overlap between the groups.

Central to the success of the Saturday Afternoon Club was its clubhouse, and that almost wasn’t built, according to a 1994 Gaye LeBaron column. After the land was purchased from Mark McDonald Jr. for $800, all the banks in town refused to give them a construction loan, saying it was “crazy” to to take a risk on a social club, even one that included the wives of every prominent man in town. A wealthy aunt of club member Laura Cragin finally put up the entire $4,375, with another $100 tossed in for architect Brainerd Jones. Yet curiously, none of those interesting details were mentioned in either Santa Rosa paper at the time, which together printed over three dozen approving items about the Saturday Afternoon Club’s mission to establish a clubhouse. Nor is Mrs. Cragin seen in the group photograph at the ground breaking. For having brokered a deal that saved the club’s bacon, you’d think that she’d at least be rewarded by a snapshot of her throwing a shovelful of dirt.

LEFT: The Saturday Afternoon Club in the late 1940s, still with the original cedar shingles
RIGHT: The clubhouse in 1962, following the remodel that destroyed most of Brainerd Jones’ design. Photograph by Don Meacham
(Photographs courtesy Sonoma County Library Collection)

Pretty Scene Thursday Evening at Handsome Structure

The opening of the pretty club home of the Saturday Afternoon Club last evening marks an epoch and a decided step in advance for the City of Roses. The new home will be the center of intellectual and social development, and the scene of many pretty parties and entertainments in the future, as well as the place where splendid musical talent will be heard…

…Mrs. James S. Sweet, the president of the club, made the address of welcome to the assembled guests, and told of the beginning and completion of the work, of the sweet resignation of Architect Brainerd Jones when the ladies proceeded to “prune” his plans, of the painstaking work of Contractor J. B. Durand and his corps of subcontractors….

…Mrs. Robert Potter Hill, former president of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, and Judge James W. Oates made addresses during the evening. Each of the speakers made a talented address, the ladies bringing greetings from the organizations which they represent, and speaking of the pleasures which they had at being present on so auspicious occasion and of the beneficial influence the erection of the Saturday Afternoon Club structure would have on other cities.

Judge Oates was happy in his remarks, and his advice to the ladies on getting rid of the pest known as “knockers” touched a responsive chord in the audience. Judge Oates has been the legal light who has piloted the ladies through the shoals on which they might have wrecked their enterprise, and to him especial credit is due, and which was mentioned by Mrs. Sweet in her opening address. Judge Oates is always heard with pleasure by the people of this city, with whom he is a great favorite, and his well modulated voice was heard to advantage last evening. The speaker suggested that all the members of the male persuasion of the audience should assist the ladies in every way to make their laudable endeavors all the more successful and brilliant. The achievement of the energetic ladies followed the crashing blow which devastated this city less than three years ago, he remarked, was all the more pronounced because of its accomplishments in the face of such an adversity and calamity. Never in the history of the world, declared Judge Oates, had such a blow fallen on a city as Santa Rosa had suffered…

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 18, 1908

Architect Brainerd Jonea was here from Petaluma yesterday looking after the Saturday Afternoon Club’s new club house on Tenth street. He expressed himself as well pleased with the manner in which the work is progressing and of the work being done by the contractor. The brick work in the terrace was also commented upon favorably by the architect.

Contractor J. B. Durand has the club house under cover so that the rain will not interfere with the force of men engaged on the job. He sees no reason now why the contract will not be completed well within the specified time limit.

– Press Democrat, October 18, 1908

Ladies Pleased with New Structure Being Erected

The new structure being erected for the Saturday Afternoon Club on Tenth street is rapidly being pushed to completion. Contractor J. B. Durand has a force of men busy shingling the sides of the structure, and it will soon be enclosed. Some delay has been occasioned in the structure of the roof, as the heavy timbers for that portion of the structure have been ordered direct from Oregon. They will be here at once, and it is expected to have the roof on the structure before the rains set in.

The ladies of the club frequently visit the new structure and are well pleased with what is being done there. The club house, when completed, will fill a long felt want on the part of the ladies of Santa Rosa, and will give them a place where their musicals and other high class entertainments can be staged with proper effect.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 18, 1908
Saturday Afternoon Members Start Building

An exceedingly pretty and impressive, tho’ informal ceremony took place at 8 o’clock this morning at the site of the Saturday Afternoon Club House on Tenth street near Mendocino Avenue. The building contractors began work at that hour and the members of the club assembled to break ground. The ceremony was begun by the presidents of the organization, Mrs. Finlaw, the “mother president,” turning the first shovelful of earth, and starting the work that will go on till a beautiful and artistic club home is completed. Mrs. Finlaw made a short and appropriate address to her sister members and co-laborers and relinquished the shovel to her successor in office. This was followed down the line presidents, who are Mrs. J. W. Oates, Mrs. A. C. McMeans, Mrs. Mark McDonald, Jr., Miss Lulu Leppo, Mrs. T. J. Geary, Mrs. W. E. McConnell, Mrs. James R. Edwards and Mrs. J. S. Sweet, the present presiding officer. Then the vice presidents took a hand, and this finished the official list and the members–the high privates–did their allotted part in preparing for the foundations.

There were present Judge James W. Oates and Professor J. S. Sweet, also Contractor J. B. Durand and Architect Brainerd Jones. John Ross, the photographer, posed the lady builders in an attractive bunch and took several pictures. The shovel will be preserved as a thing sacred in the club house.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 17, 1908
Saturday Afternoon Club’s Handsome Home on Tenth Street Will Soon Be Under Way

The contract for the erection of the handsome club house on Tenth street for the Saturday Afternoon Club, has been finally awarded to Contractor J. B. Durand of this city. Work will be commenced at once and will be finished as rapidly as possible.

A description of the building and the sketch of the same by Brainerd Jones, the architect, was published in the Press Democrat some weeks ago. The building will cost in the neighborhood of $5,000. An application for a building permit has been filed with the City Council, and will of course be granted.

The chairman of the building board is Mrs. James W. Oates. The members of the club will be glad to know that the work of construction is to be commenced and will be delighted when the building is ready for occupancy. Mrs. James S. Sweet is the president of the Saturday Afternoon Club.

– Press Democrat, August 14, 1908

After some delay incident to certain alterations in the original plans, on Thursday morning the contract was signed with J. B. Durand to erect the elegant new home for the Saturday Afternoon Club on Tenth street, near Mendocino avenue.

This building is the first to be devoted exclusively to club purposes in this city and marks an epoch in the history of Santa Rosa. The ladies of the Building Committee have displayed much energy and business ability in their efforts toward providing the Club with suitable quarters, and they are to be congratulated on the consummation of their undertaking.

The plans, which were drawn by Brainerd Jones, are in the Chalet style of architecture. The exterior is to be wholly in shingles and with its spacious port-cochere, pergolas and porches, forms a very pleasing picture.

The large auditorium, lighted by electricity, will be floored with polished maple. Opposite the stage is a large fireplace and over this is a gallery thirty-six feet in length. From the stage open two dressing rooms provided with all conveniences. The kitchen is to be furnished with a gas range, instantaneous water heater, etc. The auditorium will be wainscoted to the height of seven feet to the plaster line. A unique feature of the finish is the use of stained shakes to ceil the roof under the main rafters.

The acoustic properties have been carefully considered by the architect and the building is admirably adapted to lectures and threatening, while the dancing floor will be unsurpassed in the city. All in all, the new building will be an ornament to Santa Rosa and a credit to the enterprising members of the Saturday Afternoon Club.


– Santa Rosa Republican, August 13, 1908

When the ladies of the Saturday Afternoon Club elect which set of the several plans they are wrinkling their fair brows over, they will begin to build a club home that will be an ornament to Santa Rosa and a joy forever to club women who will dwell therein. The idea uppermost in the minds of the members of the organization is a pretty and commodious club house. It will not be costly nor elaborate in its adornments, but will be simple, artistic and genteel. Club homes are now considered necessary in social and fraternal organizations. The Elks in this city built themselves a splendid place where the cultured members of the order meet and enjoy the social features of their order. It is their rallying point and their home. The local Native Sons are now building a costly temple and it will be their fraternal and social home. Finely equipped club rooms will be a part of construction where the members will gather.

The Saturday Afternoon club house may be a rustic bungalow, wide eves, ornamental galleries, French windows, giving onto grace 11 balconies and terraces, approached by a broad driveway, sweeping in a half circle up through a porte cochere or roofed entrance at the front. The interior will be a large club room, capable of seating several hundred persons, elevated gallery at one end, with ornamental balcony where one may sit and enjoy refreshments and the literary menu from the floor below at the same time. Piano and other musical instruments will be provided for the Etude Section. Flowers and greenery will grow around and over this artistic structure and it will be a home indeed to the Saturday Afternoon Club of Santa Rosa. At the next meeting, the club will choose the plan and the building will begin.

– “Pencil Gatherings Among the Social and Other People” Santa Rosa Republican, June 1, 1908

The Saturday Afternoon Club filed its articles of incorporation with the county clerk Thursday afternoon. The ladies are enthusiastic over their project and there were many signers of the club’s roll, each taking one share of stock in the proposition. The club is capitalized at $10,000 and the stock is valued at ten dollars per share…

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 15, 1907

…A big step in the advancement of club life in our little city was taken on last Monday afternoon, at a special meeting of the Saturday Afternoon Club, held at the home of Mrs. Dr. C. H. Thompson. The object of the meeting was to discuss and decide upon the advisability of purchasing a lot and erecting a modern, up-to-date club house that would not only afford a great deal of pleasure to the members of the club, but would also yield them a good revenue by being rented to other clubs and individuals for social functions and various other purposes. The meeting was largely attended in spite of the inclement weather and the ladies were most enthusiastic and earnest in discussing the proposed plan, and after carefully considering the important question and looking at it from all sides, a vote was taken upon it that resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of building a club house as soon as possible and also an order to file articles at once and incorporate the club under the name of “The Saturday Afternoon Club.” Judge J. W. Oates has kindly offered his legal advice and assistance in their future business transactions and the ladies appreciate this generous offer and realize how valuable and helpful Judge Oates can be to them in carrying out such a big undertaking.

– “Our Social Affairs, by Madam Trice”, Santa Rosa Republican, March 9, 1907
Saturday Afternoon Club Will Have Handsome Home

At the meeting of the Saturday Afternoon Club held Monday evening, the members determined to incorporate, purchase the proposed site for their handsome club rooms and erect a large and commodious structure thereon, The meeting was one of the most enthusiastic ever held by the ladies and when it came to a vote on the proposition there was a unanimity of sentiment favoring the club house. Mrs. James R. Edwards, president of the club, presided at the meeting.

The lot which will be purchased by the ladies is one owned by Mark L. McDonald, Jr. It is located on Tenth street facing Joe Davis street, and location for their club house [sic]. The close to Mendocino avenue [sic], and the members believe it will be an ideal election of directors [sic] resulted in the selection of the following to serve in that capacity [sic]…

…The club has decided to incorporate under the name of “The Saturday Afternoon Club,” and the articles will be prepared at once and filed. At subsequent meetings of the club the arrangements for the building will be undertaken and architects will be asked to submit plans for the structure. The members can be depended on to erect one of the most beautiful and cozy structures for their occupance that is contained in the City of Roses.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 5, 1907

Special Meeting of the Saturday Afternoon Club to Be Held on Monday Afternoon

There is to be an important meeting of the Saturday Afternoon Club, both sections, on Monday afternoon at the residence of Mrs. Dr. C. H. Thompson, on Mendocino avenue, for the purpose of discussing incorporation, for the purchase of a lot at Tenth and Joe Davis streets, and the erection of a club house. It is hoped that all the members will be present and take part in the discussion. Most of the members are very enthusiastic over the probable purchase of the lot and owning their own club house. Mrs. James R. Edwards is the president of the Saturday Afternoon Club. While many lots have been considered it is certain that the club house will be located in or near the location mentioned, which is the locality in which the Saturday Afternoon Club had its origin and development.


– Press Democrat, March 3, 1907

How Saturday Afternoon Club Came Into Existence

The Saturday Afternoon Club, Santa Rosa’s foremost organization in music and literature, whose handsome club house was dedicated Thursday evening, was founded by five prominent ladies of this vicinity. Many years ago a meeting was held at the resident [sic] of Dr. William Finlaw, on Mendocino avenue, the ladies present being guests Mrs. Dr. Wylie, on McDonald avenue. The idea of forming the club was broached and discussed by these ladies, and from that inception the stately edifice has arisen to crown their splendit efforts.

The ladies were Mrs. Martin Cochrane of Kenwood, Mrs. William Finlaw, Mrs. A. C. McMeans, Mrs. Mark L. McDonald, Sr., and Mrs. J. G. Wylie.

The first officers of the club were Mrs. Finlaw, president; Miss Nellie Porter, vice president; Mrs. McMeans, secretary; Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Wylie and Mrs. Cochrane, committee on constitution and by-laws. At the next meeting of the ladies, which was held at the residence of Mrs. Finlaw, the constitution and by-laws of the club were presented and adopted.

Miss Nellie Porter, who was chosen vice president of the club, was to have been president of the club, was to have been present at the original meeting, but was unavoidably detained. She was chosen an officer in her absence.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 18, 1908

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