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Boyes Hot Springs, CA is an unincorporated community in Sonoma Valley northeast of

El Verano and northwest of the City of Sonoma. Boyes is bordered on the east by Highland Boulevard, Central Avenue, Los Robles Avenue, and Sonoma Highway; on the south by Agua Caliente Creek, West Verano Avenue, Riverside Drive and Craig Avenue, to the west by Arnold Drive and to the north by West Agua Caliente Drive and Sonoma Creek.

Boyes Hot Springs/History

Boyes Hot Springs was named after British Captain Henry E. Boyes, who acquired the property in 1888.1

The history of the community of Boyes Hot Springs and the Sonoma Mission Inn dates back to the Native Americans who were the first to discover the natural underground hot mineral waters here. They were drawn to the hot springs as a natural source of heat for bathing, food processing, cooking, ceremonies and medicinal treatments. The site was considered a sacred healing ground and a sweathouse stood near the spring for generations.

In 1849, Dr. Thaddeus M. Leavenworth, an eccentric San Francisco physician, was the first to commercially develop the hot springs. He constructed a small bathhouse and a tank on the site to create the pioneer health resort of the county. According to some accounts, Dr. Leavenworth had an a particularly heated argument with his wife, burned the bathhouse, filled the tank with earth, and went out of business.

In 1895 Captain Boyes drilled a well and struck 112°F water at 70 feet. By 1900 he had built the Boyes Hot Springs Hotel on the site and "[s]oon, well-to-do San Franciscans were arriving by boat and train to 'take the waters' at the finest hot mineral water resort in California. In 1923, a disastrous fire destroyed the hotel and most of Boyes Hot Springs."2. Around 1900 Captain Boyes sold the resort and retired.

A hotel brochure in the 1920's enticed guests with "electric lights and running water throughout,...competent masseurs and masseuses,...moving pictures changed nightly,... vaudeville...[and the]...largest mineral water tank in the world - a cure for rheumatism, stomach, kidney and nerve troubles, malaria, etc." As the Golden Gate Bridge was not constructed yet, a ferry ride across the bay and an 80-cent train ride brought guests to the depot on the hotel's grounds. In 1923, a fire destroyed the hotel and most of Boyes Hot Springs. [citation needed]

In 1927, the current Sonoma Mission Inn rose from the ashes as an architecturally accurate replica of a California mission and San Franciscans who were "lovers of pleasure and seekers of health" flocked to the Inn. The local newspaper proclaimed "Sonoma Valley now has one of the finest hotels in all Northern California. With the convenience of auto ferries and modern highways superseding the trail oveer the hills and a luxurious hotel arising on the site of primitiive mineral springs, all the world is destined to find its way to Boyes Hot Springs." [citation needed]

During the Great Depresssion of 1929, the resort went into receivership and remained dark for four years. In 1933, Emily Long, a hotelier from Grass Valley, bought the inn and restored it to prosperity.

During World War II in 1943, she turned control of the hotel over to the Navy who used it for "R & R" for sailors and marines for the next two years. Permanent locals Sylvia Sebastiani and Mrs. Spreckles organized weekly dances at the inn for the troops.

During the following years, the inn went through many incarnations and in the 1940's professional sports teams like the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks used the inn as training headquarters.

A major renovation in 1980 returned the Inn to it's 1920's grandeur. With the addition of a world-class European Spa in 1981, the resort began to attract visitors from all around the world.

Finally, in 1993, things came full circle in Boyes Hot Springs when a two year search for the legendary waters of Dr. Leavenworth and H. E. Boyes yielded a new source of 135°F natural artesian mineral water 1,100 feet beneath the Inn. This water is once again being used in the pools and whirlpools of Sonoma Mission Inn.

Footnotes

1. Much of the content was derived from an old Sonoma Mission Inn brochure
2. http://www.fairmont.com/EN_FA/Property/SMI/AboutUs/HotelHistory.htm

See Also

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