It’s the “last building” many times over, including being one of the last buildings you would ever think was notable. It was the last work in the North Bay of a great architect, and likely one of his last completed designs. It is the last remaining grand lodge hall in Santa Rosa, a survivor from a time when anyone downtown was only a few steps away from the imposing home of Elks or Eagles or other. It is the last building tied to Santa Rosa’s culture during the early Twentieth Century, when most everyone flocked to weekend dances and big parties. It is still there at 404 Mendocino Avenue, and its doors opened on February 25, 1909.

William H. Willcox was an esteemed architect (introduced here) who created quite a storm in the months before the 1906 earthquake. He presented a vision where Santa Rosa might leapfrog San Jose and other up-and-coming Bay Area communities and become a showcase for modern urban development. Santa Rosa Creek was to be transformed into a waterfront park that would be the centerpiece of an expanded downtown that included a convention auditorium large enough to host statewide and even national events. Investors lined up and he was only weeks (days?) away from having enough funding to break ground for the big pavilion when the quake struck. Money immediately dried up as the bankers and speculators concentrated on rebuilding their downtown holdings. The earthquake and fires not only took 77 lives, but also killed off Santa Rosa’s brightest possible future.

He served as Santa Rosa’s building inspector immediately after the quake, a time when a dozen or so architects in San Francisco and Berkeley were winning contracts to design the town’s new hotels and office buildings. As far is known, Willcox received none of this work (although one building appeared to rip off his convention hall design). It’s possible he had jobs in San Francisco, or was too busy because so much on-site supervision was required of him to enlarge and modernize Hood Mansion at Los Guilicos, which was completed in 1908.

Willcox appeared destined to leave no legacy in Santa Rosa at all, so it was surprising to find in the 1909 newspapers that one of his pre-quake designs was actually built and about to open. The building was the lodge hall for the Native Sons of the Golden West (NSGW, to its friends).

Construction of the building apparently began in late 1907, per the medallion on the wall. It could have started much sooner, had the fraternal society not welcomed Santa Rosa to use their vacant lot as the temporary site of a shantytown for city hall and the rest of the civic center in the sixteen months after the quake. During this time gap Willcox modified the design of the building in several ways, and we’re lucky to have a copy of his original drawing as well as his revision.

All versions of the front face – including what was actually built – were equal parts California Mission Revival Style and Romanesque. With its overhanging tile eaves and Spanish-baroque parapet, the roofline was strongly Mission, particularly when there still was a north tower to showcase more tile. Everything below that is Romanesque, but not busy; even today, the archtop ribbon windows against the smooth stucco wall looks clean and modern-ish. Few architects could blend these very different styles so successfully. “Masterpiece” might be going too far, but it’s truly damned impressive.

TOP: Drawing published 1906 (Mar. 4 Press Democrat)
MIDDLE: Drawing
published 1909 (May 6 Republican)
BOTTOM: Circa 1935 postcard

The roof design evolved the most. Originally Willcox plopped a cupola on the north end to be the base for a flagpole. He did much the same in his convention center design, and those two 1906 drawings even show U.S. and state flags fluttering in the same way over the buildings. In the later NSGW drawing, the cupola became a steep pinnacle over columns suggesting a tower with turrets. The California motto, “EUREKA”, was now in framed relief as part of the wall. In the finished version, the pinnacle became squat and more conventional while the turrets became taller and heavier. If you isolated the profile of the northwest corner as shown in the 1935 postcard, it could be the bell tower of a nice Methodist church. Today the north tower is completely gone and as a result, you can’t look at the building from the other side of the street without thinking how strangely lopsided it seems.

On the south end of the roof, design changes were less dramatic. The parapet was simplified and lost its flagpole. Instead, there was a “brilliant electric star that burned on top of the turret outside,” according to the description below. Solomon’s Seal (not a Star of David; the NSGW wasn’t a Jewish group) remained unchanged through all the versions. On the second floor, the Palladian windows at either end of the building became single windows framed by engaged columns, which nicely complimented the entranceway.

With its large upstairs ballroom and banquet facilities, the hall was an immediate hit with the social set, accommodating parties too large – and maybe, too boisterous – for the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, which was about Santa Rosa’s only other venue for rent. If you danced before 1940, you danced here. Hardly a week went by in following decades without the papers announcing one or two doings down at Native Sons’ hall, and according to “Santa Rosa’s Architectural Heritage,” the Native Sons of the Golden West only sold the place after it was declared unsafe to continue hosting large gatherings.

Sadly, the only interior view we have shows just the lodge room (besides the large image below, the Sonoma County Library supposedly has a partial view taken from another angle, but the details don’t match). While Willcox went through multiple revisions of the exterior until he elegantly simplified the design, this photo shows a Beaux-Arts mess. Under a breathtaking stained glass skylight were walls smothered with fussy ornament, from swags to thick entablature to oversized corbels to ribbon molding over arches interrupted with band molding. There was an architrave in the arch behind the dais, although that’s the sort of detail you normally only find above the doorway of cathedrals.

In sum: It looked like a wedding cake where the baker kept larding on more layers of mascarpone decorations just to jack up the bill. Except for the skylight, maybe it’s not such a tragedy that the interior has been since remodeled to death and apparently retains no original details (some interior views are available via the leasing agent).

Even while Willcox was collecting Santa Rosa’s praise, he wasn’t collecting money from the City Council that he thought was his due. His lawyer threatened suit over $1,630: $1,000 for plans drawn up before the earthquake for the E street bridge, and $630 for a firehouse design. Whether he was paid or even had a legitimate case is unknown, but Empire Building architect John Galen Howard had also submitted plans for a new fire station, so Willcox probably had cause to believe the city was soliciting designs (the City Council decided to go on the cheap and just build a replica of the old 19th century building). As for the bridge, Willcox had already demanded $300 for the blueprints in 1907, which is probably why the Press Democrat dryly noted, “Mr. Willcox’s claims have been heard from before.”

Willcox probably didn’t work again in the North Bay (although he died twenty years later at the Veteran’s Home in Yountville), but the PD had another little item about him in 1909, noting that he had a commission to design the Elks Hall/office building in Stockton. That turned out to be a nice but undistinguished design in a restrained Beaux Arts style (picture here). He stayed active as an architect through at least part of the 1910s, but it’s unknown if he actually built anything after Stockton. If not, the Native Sons’ hall in Santa Rosa will stand as his last great work.

New Structure on Mendocino Street for Which the Plans Have Just Been Adopted

One of the finest structures to be built in Santa Rosa this year is the handsome Native Sons’ Hall which is to occupy a conspicuous lot within half a block of the Courthouse, on Mendocino street adjoining the Riley property. It will be a building worthy of the advancement and progress of the City of Roses and one that will be redound with credit to Santa Rosa Parlor of Native of Sons of the Golden West [sic], whose home it will be, and an attractive ornament to the city.

As stated in this paper the plans for the building were finally adopted at a meeting of the directors of the Santa Rosa Native Sons’ Hall Association  incorporated, and the accepted design is reproduced in the picture above.

Judge Emmet Seawell is the president of the Board of Directors of the Hall Association. The plans were accepted after very careful consideration, the object being to have a structure that would meet all requirements.

Santa Rosa Parlor has a large and growing membership and the securing of such a commodious and comfortable home, with the additional attraction of the social features that the possession of clubrooms will afford is sure to prove advantageous in an increase of membership. While the social and fraternal sides were considered it was also deemed advisable to see that the building should be made a good financial [illegible microfilm] has been given that it will be so.

The plans adopted call for a two story building, modified Mission style, with handsome entrance and wide stairway to the upper floor. The lower floor will be divided into four stores, 20 feet wide in the clear, with modern plate glass fronts and marble base. The upper floor will include the largest and handsomest lodge room in the city, commodious ante-rooms, handsome club rooms, large banquet hall, with kitchen, pantries, and all necessary conveniences. There will be a stage in the banquet room and a fine floor in the hall for dancing. The estimated cost of the building with the furnishings is $30,000. The plans accepted were those prepared by Architect William H. Willcox of this city.

– Press Democrat, March 4, 1906

Santa Rosa Parlor Officers Are Installed

Santa Rosa Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West took formal possession of their fine hall and clubrooms on Thursday night, and right proud are the members over the completion and acquisition of their handsome new home. They have a right to be. The City of Roses is also particularly pleased over the addition of such a noble structure to her newer and greater self.

Thursday night’s installation of the new officers of the Parlor in the new hall was the first regular meeting, for the previous meeting of the parlor held there, was a special one. There was a large gathering of the members present, and they entered heartily into the occasion and its attendant significance. The brilliant electric star that burned on top of the turret outside furnished a suggestion of the welcome inside, and the idea was admired by many who looked up at the lights and were informed of the importance of the gathering within.

Inside and outside the Native Sons’ building presents an attractive appearance. Many citizens have been privileged with an inspection of the building, and have come away expressing their admiration for it. The entrance, with its marble finish, broad stairs and clusters of lights, is very imposing, and a fitting introduction to the fine equipment of the building. The reception hall at the top of the stairs is very neat and right here it can be truthfully said that Architect William H. Willcox planned very cleverly in the arrangement of the building throughout, and is certainly entitled to congratulations. He is personally proud of the successful completion of his plans.

From the hall entrance is gained to the main lodge room, the clubrooms and the dance hall. The lodge room is a beauty. It presents a very attractive picture, particularly with the arch and and dome effects that have been carried out in its construction. The lighting, by stained glass skylight by day, and by a myriad of electric globes by night, is most effective.

The lodge room furnishing is also very tasteful. The mahogany furniture and chairs upholstered in Spanish leather. and the fine Brussels carpet on the floor add a finish that is very pleasing.

Mention has already been made of the dance hall. This will be a thing of beauty and a joy to devotees of the fascinating pastime for years to come. When all is completed and the bevelled mirrors adorn the walls and other artistic furnishings are seen in all their radiance there is no doubt of the popularity of the place for dances and parties. The orchestra will be stationed in the northeast corner of the room.

The same style of elegance that is noted in the other rooms applies to the clubrooms. There is a home-like appearance at once gives the rooms by the large fireplace and its African marble finish. In these rooms there will be billiard tables and other accessories for the pleasure of the members. The possession of this notable home should be the means of bringing into the fold of Santa Rosa Parlor all the available membership.

The banquet room must not be lost sight of, either. It is in the third story, and when fully equipped will be as nice a place for its purpose as could be found anywhere. Then there are the dressing rooms and the other offices, all complete in their details, and designed with the idea of comfort and convenience uppermost.

There is no doubt but that Santa Rosa has one of the finest homes the order has in the Golden West, and there are very few fraternal buildings of the kind to be found anywhere in the state that excell [sic] it.


– Press Democrat, February 26, 1909
Willcox’s Claims

Attorney G. W. Barlett of San Francisco sent a letter stating that W. H. Willcox, the architect, had referred to him his claim for $630 for plans which Willcox says he once furnished to the city for a fire department station, and $1,000 for plans for the E street bridge. The letter was referred to City Attorney Allison B. Ware for consideration. Mr. Willcox’s claims have been heard from before. Bartlett threatened a suit.

– City Council notes, Press Democrat, September 22, 1909

Wm. H. Willcox’s Plans for Stockton Elks Hall are Accepted

The plans for the new $100,000 Elks hall and building in the city of Stockton prepared by William H. Willcox, the well known architect of this city, have been accepted and naturally Mr. Willcox and his friends here are very much pleased at the recognition given. Mr. Willcox has a fine record as an architect and has designed many large and important buildings in this and other states. The building in Stockton is to be a magnificent structure and will be modern and unique in many respects.

Mr. Willcox’s friends among the members of Santa Rosa Elks lodge are very much pleased over the fact that his plans have been accepted. Mr. Willcox is one of the “baby Elks” of Santa Rosa lodge, that is he was one of the last of the new members to be initiated.

– Press Democrat, February 1, 1909

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About 15 minutes from downtown Santa Rosa is a mansion that’s not a mansion, and a treasure that’s hasn’t been particularly treasured at times. It’s the William Hood House (AKA Hood Mansion).

Now tucked behind the county’s Juvenile Justice Center, the old house has lost the commanding view of northern Sonoma Valley that it possessed when it was built in 1858. The talking points (PDF) prepared for an open house a few years ago provide the best overview of the history of the building: Hood, a house builder and grape grower, bought a half interest in the nearly 19,000 acre Rancho Los Guilicos in 1850, obtaining complete ownership a few years later. In 1858 he married and began construction.

(ABOVE: The William Hood House c. 1898, courtesy the Sonoma County Library/Sherman Boivin Collection

BELOW: Hood Mansion today, from approximately the same viewpoint)

Most of Hood’s original house is architecturally unremarkable; it’s a nice Victorian-era farmhouse, as seen in the historic photo. Most notable is that it’s made of brick, even including the downstairs interior walls, which are finished with plaster. The talking points explain why this was unusual:

At the time, brick was a very expensive building material. Very few manufacturing kilns had been established in the area, and their weight made them costly to transport. Therefore, most brick buildings from this period were made from clay deposits found nearby and fired on site. The somewhat uneven appearance of the bricks on Hood Mansion are a testament to the handiwork of the local craftsmen. In all likelihood, the bricks were manufactured on site by Native American workers.

The Hood family lost the property through foreclosure, as also happened to the wine-making family that followed. In 1905 the lender sold it to Thomas Kearns, a Utah silver tycoon and former U.S. Senator. Kearns had an opulent home in Salt Lake City and hobnobbed with the rich and powerful, including President Teddy Roosevelt. For him, a simple farmhouse would not do, so he hired someone to enlarge and modernize the building. Thanks to a small item in the Press Democrat, we now know that someone was architect William H. Willcox.(Another article with greater depth about Kearns and his years of ownership is available here.)

Willcox has been mentioned several times in this journal (read an introduction here) and had been an nationally-esteemed architect since the 1880s. In Santa Rosa, he was planning to build a auditorium large enough to host state and national conventions, as well as providing a civic center; he also proposed creating a water park between Main and E street, which would have transformed the town’s focus. Alas, the 1906 earthquake struck when he was apparently just weeks away from having enough funding to begin the big pavilion, and in the disaster’s aftermath, the money men were interested in rebuilding what they had personally lost, not investing in their mutual future.

Willcox was really the only logical man for Kearns to hire. The scope of the project went beyond what could be entrusted to a carpenter-builder, and Willcox was about the only experienced architect who could keep an eye on the construction. Other qualified architects working around Santa Rosa at that time lived farther away. Brainerd Jones was busy in Petaluma, John Galen Howard (who designed the Empire Building) was in Berkeley, and J. W. Doliver (the new county courthouse) and Victor Dunkerly (a Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator who built the Overton Hotel) were in San Francisco. While Willcox mainly lived and worked in San Francisco, he kept an office in Santa Rosa that he shared with a civil engineer (another bonus, considering that the project involved a unreinforced brick building in the Santa Rosa Plain, where the occasional aftershock still made people twitchy).

Sadly, the Hood House modifications are the only works of Willcox (currently known) to survive in Sonoma County. (UPDATE) Some of the additions were quite modern; other work blended so well with the pre-Civil War building that there are questions about what details were part of the original construction. Thanks to the county Facilities Department, myself and a handful of architects and historians were given a chance to examine the building. Here’s my guess on what Willcox completed in 1908:

Viewing the front (Hood House faces west) it’s immediately apparent that the building was widened by about 30 feet, as seen by comparing the historic and current photos above. (CLICK or TAP on any photo to enlarge.) The seams between old and new brickwork are easily noticed in person. To expand the house on the north side, Willcox had to only add a second floor to the original one-story extension of the main house, which might have been Hood’s dining room.

LEFT: North view, with the original roof line visible above the ground floor windows. The single story section with the three doors was likely a utility room (a boiler for the heating system, a boiler for hot faucets, and probably a backup electric generator) added by Willcox

MIDDLE: East view, with the Kearns-era kitchen at the south (green door), directly behind the new dining room. The northern section of the utility building with the door closest to the camera was added, and its proximity to the boiler room suggests it was a laundry room

RIGHT: South view, with the new formal entrance into the dining room

Willcox gets credit for the entire south side of the house, which he turned into the new formal entrance. The roof of the portico is supported by the same cornice brackets as found on the front of the house. Thankfully the county left its original brown shingle when a new roof was put on the rest of the house; these shingles were a favorite material of the Bay Area Arts & Craft movement, and serve to introduce visitors to the spectacular dining room behind the door.

Nearly everything in the dining room is oak: The enormous table, floor, beamed ceiling, paneled walls, and the huge sideboard that nearly fills the inside wall. Above the table, an array of lights illuminate the room as well as the ceiling beams, all fixtures in the Craftsman style. In 1908, this room would have been considered ultra-modern design.

LEFT: Upper shades of the elaborate center fixture point towards the simple ceiling rose

MIDDLE: Along the sides of the room are pendant lanterns, suspended from an ornamental post and chain

RIGHT: The underside of a lantern reveals that each could hold four candles on the exterior, plus one inside. Only very narrow candles could be used in these holders, suggesting they were used only for decoration

The dining room commands half of Willcox’s addition on the southern ground floor; the southwest side is an equally large reception room. The modern touch here is the cove ceiling; the rest of the room is unadorned, except for a nice fireplace with a Roman-themed break front portraying a woman’s head and grape leaves. Willcox also placed fireplaces in each pair of upstairs bedrooms on the north and south walls as well as in the dining room, giving the house a total of eight fireplaces (I think).

LEFT: Fireplace in the reception room

MIDDLE: Fireplace in the northeast bedroom

RIGHT: One of the fireplaces in the original part of the house

Where else did Willcox leave his fingerprints on the William Hood House? An architect on our tour proposed that fancy moldings in some of the old rooms were too opulent for a mid-19th century farmhouse, and suggested that Willcox made a pass through the entire home to update details and unify the design. I disagree; the trim work upstairs is modest, particularly in the rooms Willcox created. But I agree that these downstairs moldings probably were not part of the original construction and were added sometime during the late Victorian era. Perhaps the investor who owned the property between the 1893 Hood foreclosure and the 1905 purchase by Kearns brought in a contractor to put some lipstick on his white elephant.

LEFT: Several of the rooms in the original house have extremely elaborate crown molding-picture rail

MIDDLE: Many downstairs door jambs, unusually thick because of the interior brick walls, have moldings on all sides

RIGHT: Multipart crown moldings are even found on storage cabinets

The history of the house after the Willcox changes is detailed in the talking points linked above. Briefly: Kearns sold it after WWI, and the property was subdivided. The home became part of a compound owned by a men’s organization, then the state, then finally Sonoma County. The house is lucky to have enjoyed good stewardship: Had the Fates been unkind, the bricks of Hood Mansion could just as easily be melting back into the local mud from which they came (see: Carrillo Adobe). The county deserves full props for its earthquake retrofit and stabilization of the building in recent years.

(RIGHT: Something awful lurks in the dark rooms of Hood House)

The county does, however, deserve shame for the darkest moment of Hood House: Turning the place over to a clique of interior decorators for a Bicentennial Decorators’ Showcase (“a display of more than 20 historic rooms decorated by leading designers!”) that left many interiors in the esteemed old building defaced – and possibly, damaged – with mid-1970s crap-ola. Woodwork was painted in trendy colors; avocado green linoleum was glued to antique counter tops and cabinets; room after room has wallpaper competing for the most frenetic design and clashing colors, some of which can be glimpsed in the photos above. One interior room has a wall covered in wood shingles, with other walls (and ceiling!) papered in a cartoon-y floral orgy that looks a plea for help from someone who’s watched way too many episodes of the Partridge Family.

Most of the damage done by the showcase can be undone, but that The Ugly is still around more than three decades later attests that the work won’t be easy or cheap – it’s another big project in a house that has a list of big projects crying for attention. There’s a measure of irony that Willcox was available to accept the Hood House project because post-quake Santa Rosa was too distracted to see the best interests for its future. Then exactly 70 years later, his work there was defaced because the county likewise failed to weigh the long-term impacts of a poor decision.

Architect William H. Willcox is at the Overton from San Francisco. Mr. Wilcox says the new residence on Senator Kearns’ place at Los Guilocos [sic] is about completed.

– “Around the Corridors”, Press Democrat, June 5, 1908

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Architects rarely made the papers in the early 20th century, so it’s unusual that there were two articles about them in autumn 1906, and both involved some matter of controversy.

As described earlier, another casualty of the 1906 earthquake was the peripatetic career of William H. Willcox, a world-class architect who somehow landed in Santa Rosa. When the disaster struck, he was on the verge of having enough money committed to build a grand convention hall which could have allowed Santa Rosa to host statewide, even national events, as well as providing a civic center. He had also proposed a dam on Santa Rosa creek to transform it into a central park for the town, complete with electric lights, a swimming pool, and a bandstand. Alas, nothing more was mentioned of either project in the post-quake newspapers. Willcox was pressed into service as building inspector. He resigned after two frenetic months of quake inspections and supervision of all that new construction, not to mention creating Santa Rosa’s first building code and reviewing 23 blueprints. That’s a lot of work, even if Willcox was a man younger than his 74 years.

All the while, Willcox was advertising his services as an architect. It’s unclear whether he won any commissions (architects being rarely newsworthy, remember) but an ambiguous mention suggests he might have designed the new vaudeville house, which was a building on Fourth street between today’s Mac’s Deli and Stanroy Music. And although he received no credit, let’s hope that he was paid by Occidental Hotel architect L. S. Stone, who completely ripped off the design of his proposed convention center.

Even someone unschooled in architecture can see that these two buildings are nearly identical. The same old mission style, twin cupolas with spires, triple arches, even light fixtures are almost exact; architect Stone only miniaturized Willcox’s design slightly to accommodate wings for retail stores with hotel rooms above – additions which have nothing in common with the style of the core building. Imitation may be flattery, but copying another work this closely is today called plagiarism.

(The Occidental Hotel was on the corner of Fourth and B streets, and this detail from a colorized postcard shows the main entrance on B.)

The other adventure in controversial architecture has no local angle, except that an item about it appeared in the 1906 Santa Rosa Republican. It was also old news; the event had taken place twelve years earlier. Even though it’s far off-topic here, this tale deserves telling because it’s such a good story, and so thoroughly forgotten – as far as I can determine, it was published only once in the last century.

The story needs a running start: That 1892 architectural controversy was resurrected because of its tangential relationship to the 1906 murder of Stanford White by a man named Harry Thaw. Everything concerning the murder and two lengthy trials mesmerized the press, including both Santa Rosa papers – recall the media frenzy surrounding the O. J. Simpson case and multiply it tenfold. The wire service story printed by the Republican didn’t even concern victim White directly, but the architectural partnership of McKim, Mead & White.

Like no other architects, McKim, Mead & White defined the look of America in the Gilded Age, including most of the best examples of East Coast Shingle Style, which is the design used in Comstock House. Among their greatest work is the Beaux-Arts style Boston Public Library, which ranks among the finest 19th century architecture built anywhere.

The Bostonians hated it.

It was too expensive, critics complained in 1891 as the city debated floating a second million-dollar bond to finish the building, which was already more than double the architect’s estimate; the mayor and other officials began micro-managing the project, seeking to eliminate features, even doors, to save money. Librarians complained that it was a bad library because the building was so beautiful that it would distract readers. The pious set were outraged that children visiting the library would see naked statuary, and later that a life-sized statue of a nude woman was to be the centerpiece of the courtyard (the famed sculpture was instead given to the Metropolitan in New York, but a copy was eventually allowed in Boston, although the library’s official arts guide still doesn’t mention it). The yellow press in the city competed to expose the “Public Library Octopus,” even when they had to invent outrage – and often did.

In the midst of this superheated atmosphere, it was discovered that McKim, Mead & White had subtly placed their names on the building – or, in the view of the hysteric press, turned the library into a billboard for themselves.

On the exterior of the building beneath the window arches are ornaments meant to be tablets inscribed with the names of the great masters of art, science, religion, statesmanship, printing, and so on. On one of these tablets, a reporter for the Boston Evening Record discovered an acrostic – that read vertically, the first letter in each name spelled MCKIM MEAD WHITE.

A journal from 1892 described the backpedaling:

The Discovery of the acrostic on the new Public Library building, with the initial letters of the famous men of old spelling the names of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who planned the structure, first gave amusement to the public and then aroused indignation. But the architects say that it was no subtle scheme of theirs to obtain an enduring advertisement carved in stone, but must have been the practical joke of a young draghtsman in their office who arranged the names purposely in acrostic order, but kept the joke to himself.

There was much ado, regardless of who was responsible, and sadly the names were removed – but not before wags in the newspapers suggested that the city could pay for their white elephant library by selling an acrostic bearing the name of the most widely-advertised brand of soap.

HOTEL BIDS OPENEDContract for New Occidental Will be Made Next Week

Architect L. S. Stone stated Saturday that the bids for the erection of the new Occidental Hotel in this city had been received and that contracts would be entered into early next week for the construction of the hostelry.

This will be good news to Santa Rosans and all the traveling public, as there is a great need of a large up-to-date hotel here at this time. The plans for the new Occidental call for a two-story building extending from Fourth to Fifth street on B back to the alley. The main entrance will be in the center of the block on B street. The bids show that the hotel can be erected as planned for about $90,000.

– Press Democrat, September 30, 1906

NOVEL ADVERTISINGHow a Firm of Architects Got Its Name on a Building

Close observation on the part of a newspaper man in Boston several years ago revealed a striking device employed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the noted New York architects, of which Stanford White, who was murdered by Harry K. Thaw in New York recently, was a member. The device, says the Pittsburg Gazette-Times, was an acrostic of names famous in history, literature and art by which the firm’s name was to be engraved on the Boston Public library. As may be observed, the arrangement defied literature, history and philosophy in arrangement, and this was the thing that attracted the newspaper man’s attention. The names were conglomerated from all nations and ages into a seemingly neat ornamentation for the fine building. Beginning at the top of a space to be devoted to names famous in the world in various lines were the following:


These names, through their initials, formed the first part of the acrostic, spelling plainly “McKim.” A slight space appeared before the next list of names, which was:


The initials of these names brought out the second name of the firm, “Mead.” Another slight space, and the following name appeared:


Here was the name “White” also engraved, the whole device bringing out the firm name of “McKim, Mead & White” in connection with the world’s famed men. It was in 1890 [sic], just before the building was completed, that the discovery was made and published. The list of names was changed.

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 28, 1906

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