Seeing red over Sonoma shop's pink door

  • John Connolly exits Grandma Linda's Ice Cream shop, along First Street East, in Sonoma on Thursday, February 13, 2014. While the city council approved the pink color of the door, historic preservationists are upset about the appearance. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Unquestionably, Grandma Linda's Ice Cream's pink-painted door is the most pink thing on Sonoma's beloved Plaza. Elsewhere on the historic square, the closest thing to it is a small, glossy pink sign in a jeweler's window down the block, though some bright reds and dark purple hues show up here and there on other shops' window frames or doors.

"The kids, they love it," said Jason Salazar, who on Thursday afternoon was opening the First Street East ice cream store. "The little girls go, 'Ooh, it's pink.'"

But the pink is like red to a bull for a group of people appealing the Sonoma design commission's approval of the paint job, which, including the door, covers perhaps 25 square feet of the shop's exterior.

"I've lived in the town for a long time, and you don't do that," said Donna Lewis, a Sonoma resident who owns a Victorian bed and breakfast.

The ice cream shop is in the Renaissance Revival-style Pinelli Building, completed in 1890 and built of blocks of basalt stone often referred to as plum stone because of its color, according to the state's historic resources inventory.

"This is a historic building, it's only a few feet from the mission, and here these people come in and they start painting it pink," Lewis said. "People will go there anyway, they don't need that."

Dawn Marmaduke, who owns the store with her husband, Troy, said that as second-generation Sonoma residents, they value the square's historic nature. But uniformity is a poor goal, she said.

"There are really a lot of things going on in the plaza and it would be a shame to be cookie-cutter," she said.

Pink, in itself, is not the problem, said Johanna Patri. "We think they needed to do some research on historic colors. There are some really lovely pinks that have been historically used that are softer, look-like-they've been-there-forever type of colors."

Patri is one of 12 residents making the appeal, which asserts that the design commission did not follow its own guidelines and approved a paint job that violates the historic and aesthetic values of the Plaza.

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