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A week before Christmas in Sonoma County history

What historic events happened in Sonoma County from Dec. 20 to 26?|

On Dec. 21, 1970, the Church of One Tree was dedicated as the site of the Robert L. Ripley memorial museum. Ripley, born in 1893 in Santa Rosa, was a cartoonist at Santa Rosa High School and later became a newspaper cartoonist in San Francisco and New York. His internationally popular "Believe It or Not" feature ran from 1918 until his death in 1948. In December 1947, Ripley purchased the Church of One Tree from the First Baptist Church of Santa Rosa to create a museum. The one-of-a-kind structure was built from the lumber of one redwood tree felled near Guerneville in the 1870s.

That same year, on Dec. 23, Jessie Rosenberg gave Santa Rosa $50,000 for a fountain on the east side of Courthouse Square as a tribute to her late husband, Fred. It was one of many gifts that the Rosenberg family had given the city. In 1964, they donated the old Tower Theater property on Fourth Street as part of the site for the Central Sonoma County Library. In 1975, $100,000 from the will of the late couple was released to the Santa Rosa Foundation for "city beautification." Fred and Max Rosenberg founded Rosenberg’s department store in Santa Rosa in 1907.

Fifteen years earlier, in December 1955, severe storms and floods hit Northern California just before Christmas, leading to the evacuation of as many as 35,000 people from their homes near the Russian, Feather and Yuba rivers. It was the largest Russian River flood recorded up to that date, although the devastation would later be surpassed by another "Christmas flood" in 1964, and still larger floods in 1995 and 1986.

Click through our gallery above to see what other historic events happened this week.

News researcher Teresa Meikle contributed to this report.

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