Heritage Homes of Petaluma

Over the years there has been a growing interest in our preservation objectives by all segments of the community. Although some fine buildings have been lost to demolition, far more have been preserved for the enjoyment of everyone in the community.

Efforts of Heritage Homes have resulted in many homes being moved or saved. Volunteers and funds from membership dues and house tour ticket sales make the difference. The Five Corners building was to become a ten-space parking lot. Instead it became a community center and now a community theatre. When the former site of Petaluma’s grand City Hall had to become a parking lot, we assisted in making it the most charming Victorian style parking lot it could be. Heritage Homes helped Petaluma to be selected as a model for other cities in the California Main Street preservation program.

The most important objective of our organization is to encourage Petalumans to appreciate the excellence and uniqueness of what we have in Petaluma. Experiencing our vintage buildings creates a real historical perspective. We support the biennial Summer House Tours, the yearly Lighted Parlour Tours in December, the biennial Preservation Awards and annually support Petaluma’s lovely Museum. Our biennial Preservation Awards Ceremony recognizes owners, builders and architects for their attention to historic details and sensitive restoration of historic structures.We have also provided historic street lights, benches and trees in prominent areas of Petaluma. We have members who serve on the Historic SPARC committee and assist the City of Petaluma in the review and approval process for new construction projects and major developments. They strive to foster appropriate development that will make the most of what Petaluma has to offer its residents and visitors without jeopardizing the historic value of our older districts.

If you belong to a non-profit organization that has a preservation project in Petaluma that you think Heritage Homes of Petaluma would be interested in, please print and then fill our Heritage Homes of Petaluma “Grant Application Form” and mail it to: Heritage Homes of Petaluma, P.O. Box 2152, Petaluma, CA 94953. We will have the Board of Directors review your application and get back to you with an answer regarding your financial grant request. So far this year we have approved a grant of $1,000.00 for the Historic Survey for the Trolley Trestle on Water Street. We hope this will help to begin the process of restoring the trolley trestle on Water Street near the Great Petaluma Mill and Turning Basin and eventually get the Petaluma Trolley “back on track” in the riverfront area of historic downtown Petaluma! If you would like to offer your financial assistance to this effort, please visit the Petaluma Trolley website at PetalumaTrolley.org for more information on this exciting preservation project.

In 2002 we will be keeping you informed about all the new and exciting restoration projects around our community through our new website and as always, our monthly member newsletter. We encourage you to add your talent and energy to help save Petaluma’s unique historic character through your membership fees, donations, serving on one of our committees and by acting as a docent during one of our house tours. Only through your active concern and assistance, can we hope to accomplish the many tasks required to encourage restoration and protection of our priceless historic buildings in Petaluma.

A Brief History of Petaluma:

Petaluma incorporated as a city in 1858 but began its commercial life in the summer of 1851, when James Hudspeth built a warehouse near the present Washington Bridge, filled it with potatoes from Bodega and hay cut from the nearby meadows, and sent the harvest on boat to Sacramento for sale to the miners.

Petaluma’s extensive residential and commercial historic districts are a heritage handed down to us relatively intact by the early citizens of the prosperous 1880’s, 1890’s and 1900’s, when Petaluma was the center of commerce for the North Bay Counties.

Large sternwheelers, barges and scows regularly berthed along the Petaluma River, transporting passengers, produce and machinery between Petaluma and San Francisco. In addition to becoming known as the “world’s egg basket”, Petaluma also had one of the West Coast’s largest shoe factories, was a center for the wine trade and had the only silk mill west of the Mississippi. This mill received the first transcontinental truck delivery in 1912 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Several railroads built lines to Petaluma. A handsome Mission Revival railroad depot, built in 1915, remains today at the corner of Lakeville and East Washington, a silent testament to days gone by.

Present day Petaluma has been the star in several famous movies including, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, “American Graffiti”, “Heroes”, “Mumford” and “Phenomena”. It seems that our historic districts are not only popular with Sonoma County residents, but with movie companies as well!