If you live on or near the lower Russian River, you’ve probably already made a tasty or priceless withdrawal from the new Guerneville Bank Club.
Anyone who hasn’t yet beheld the rebirth of the 1921 bank building on Stumptown’s main drag should consider going at the first opportunity.
Owner Robert Pullum and design star Crista Luedtke, whose boon eat+drink and El Barrio tequila bar have contributed hugely to the resurgent social/culinary scene in Guerneville, have restored the long vacant and neglected bank edifice into a classic jewel.
It’s home now to an upper-crust pie shop, gallery space, deluxe ice creamery and designer goods retailer. There’s also a historic plaque that wouldn’t be there but for a chance encounter at an earlier Guerneville art show.
There, Healdsburg artist Alice Warnecke Sutro happened to hear Pullum say he didn’t know who had designed his new property, originally the Bank of Guerneville building.
She told Pullum the bank’s architect was her late great-granddad, Carl I. Warnecke, father of the better known late architect, Kennedy White House friend and Alexander Valley winegrower John Carl “Jack” Warnecke.
Sutro had Pullum out to Warnecke Ranch on Chalk Hill Road. There, they and Margo Merck, Jack Warnecke’s daughter and Sutro’s aunt, perused architectural files and found great old photos of the bank building.
Some locals will recall that for a spell prior to 1983 it housed the infamous, internally robbed Centennial Savings and Loan. Step in now and take a deep breath, and you catch the aromas of fresh pies and new paint.
No scent of Centennial remains.
POLYESTER spelled trouble for the Lace House French Laundry, which opened in Petaluma in 1915 and for decades washed, dried, pressed and folded the town’s clothes, underwear, sheets and towels.
Dan Libarle remembers that in the 1950s and ‘60s, as easy-care if scratchy fabrics and automatic washers and dryers took hold, his family watched its Lace House start to dry up.
So it adapted. The business founded by Dan’s France-born grandfather, Jean Libarle, reached out for commercial business, switching its focus from household laundry to restaurant, hotel and institutional linen.
Dan recalls when his dad, Lucien “Red” Libarle, and he drove to Vallejo to pick up all the soiled linen on a submarine. Can’t you just smell it?
Father and son drove the load back to Petaluma and got to work. Recalled Dan, “We had 24 hours to clean it and get it back.”
Fully 100 years after Lace House was born, Dan and his wife, Carol Ann, run it crisply with daughters and sons-in law-Nicole and Richard Marzo and Phoebe and Geoff Ellis.
It’s a clan that simply wouldn’t cotton to polyester.
GATSBY IN CAZ: Rich Mitchell can’t swear the world has never seen the likes of the Great Gatsby stage and literary event that he’ll host this month, but he’s sure it’s a first for Cazadero.
Mitchell co-owns the wooded west Sonoma County town’s delightfully tucked away CazSonoma Inn. His fascination with the seminal work of F. Scott Fitzgerald inspired him to write a stage play, “Gatsby’s Party.”
It was finished when Mitchell traveled last fall to England and, on a train from Oxford, found himself seated beside a most theatrical and accomplished man: Ian Flintoff, a noted British actor, author, teacher and director.