Historical Society needs better site
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By Jud Snyder  April 26, 2013 12:00 am


Rohnert Park’s Historical Society held a public reception Thursday night, April 18, in Sonoma Mountain Village where its crowded little museum storage space is located.  To the visitors it was obvious the location does not invite museumgoers and any resemblance to a genuine museum tour is still a long ways away. 

But amid the many meatball and deviled egg appetizers, bottles of wine handcrafted by Tim Danesi and convivial conservation of visitors, the shortcomings of RP’s only gesture to a historical perspective were diminished. 

Danesi’s the founder of the group and its only president, ably assisted by a small cadre of like-minded volunteers. He’s also the creator of an illustrated book on RP’s history. 

Many people assume a city of barely 50 years old, whose first residents moved into their new home in 1957, really shouldn’t be talking about history. 

But they’re the ones who spend little time  thinking about 50 years from today. When RP celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2053, wouldn’t there be a lot of curiosity about its earliest history? Danesi has the newspapers, photos, documents and artifacts in a clean, albeit crowded, storage space to fill this niche. 

The address for this embryonic museum is 1300 Valley House Drive in Codding Enterprises’ Sonoma Mountain Village. The easiest access is south on Camino College Drive until it meets SMV and bends eastward, and then keep an eye out for orange signs and a traffic light indicating 1300’s main entrance and its free parking lot. 

The historical society doesn’t have office space…the storage closet is it. It’s down a long, bare-walled corridor with vacant offices and in order to get inside of his, Danesi has to pull out wheeled shelves filled with boxes of historical data.

Dominating the interior is a large, church-size bell that used to hang in the old city hall on Commerce Boulevard, now vacant. No one knows the origin of the bell, not even former mayor and city manager Pete Callinan or Betty Fredericks, the wife of Maurice Fredericks, attorney and co-founder of Rohnert Park along with fellow attorney Paul Golis. Neither could remember if anyone actually rang the bell while it was in city hall. When interior furnishings of the former city hall were moved to the new one on Avram Ave., no one knew what to do with the bell, and Danesi said, “Oh, I’ll take it off your hands.” That’s how museums get started.

The museum’s closet also has a RP Redwood Pioneer right field foul line pole when the baseball team was a part of the long gone California League. Star player Jay Kibbee donated his bat and glove to Danesi, and he was there Thursday night looking just as he did back then, except for salt and pepper hair. He stayed in RP when the Redwood Pioneers and then the Crushers folded and set up his own business on Commerce Boulevard.

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