California Heritage Council


Petaluma Hill Trolley Sign

This is a three-part award, nominated by CHC member, Richard Torney. The DeCarli Family has generously provided the Petaluma location at Baylis Street as headquarters for both organizations, and the space needed for restoration and display purposes.

Nortwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society Train in Petaluma, CA

The Petaluma Trolley is an organization of volunteers who are working to ensure that trolley service be restored to the Petaluma waterfront, and that these antique treasures are protected, restored and exhibited in a Living Museum. In 2010, the Coastal Conservancy approved a grant of $475,000 to reconstruct the trestle along the Petaluma riverfront, upon which the Petaluma Trolley will ride once more. The members of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society are dedicated to preserving the rich and colorful heritage of Redwood Empire railroading.

Living History Railroad Museum in Petaluma, CA

They accomplish this through acquisition, preservation and display efforts, as well as through gathering oral histories of people who have contributed to our regional history. Their William R. Hogarty Memorial Library has a priceless collection of photos, maps, drawings and other related memorabilia associated with the NWPRR.

LOUTZENHEISER PHARMACY BUILDING, , circa 1855, dba FOOTHILL FLOWERS, Grass Valley, California.

Loutzenheiser Pharmacy Building exterior in Grass Valley, CA

This is the 3rd oldest building in Grass Valley. Originally it was used as a pharmacy, continuously operated by the Loutenzenheiser family for 77 years.

Loutzenheiser Pharmacy Building restored interior and exterior in Grass Valley, CA

In 1966, Mark and Mary Johnson purchased the property. After a fire in 1984, they had local craftsmen restore the interior in order to preserve this historic structure.

RICHMOND PLUNGE, circa 1926, Richmond, California. Originally called the Richmond Natatorium, the Plunge operated continuously up until it was closed in 2001 due to the structural failure of its exterior walls.

Historical Photograph of the Richmond Plunge in Richmond, CA

The Plunge is a historic indoor swimming pool, 60-by-160 feet, with an open-truss ceiling reminiscent of San Francisco’s Sutro Baths. It reopened in the summer of 2010, after a $7.5 million renovation deigned by architect Todd Jersey and funding by city redevelopment money, a regional voter measure, and individual grants and public donations.

Newly renovated Richmond Plunge interior in Richmond, CA

There are 3500 square feet of solar hot water panels for the pool’s 324,000 gallons of water; solar panels for electricity; a hyper-efficient boiler, and sophisticated pool pumps. It’s a saline pool, without chlorine, that uses an ultraviolet disinfectant system so that swimmers will not need goggles.

FOLGER STABLES, circa 1905, Woodside, California,
This is one of the jewels of the Peninsula’s Great Estate Period of a century ago. James Folger II purchased the property in 1902 and engaged Arthur Brown, Jr. to design the estate’s buildings. After a time, it stood dying of benign neglect until a remarkable public/private partnership was formed.

Exterior of Folger Stables in Woodside, CA

In 2004, the Folger Estate Stable Committee, formed in 2002, worked with the County of San Mateo and successfully had the stables listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The campaign committee raised $3 million for the renovation, which began in Dec. 2008. CHC member and architect, Adolph Rosekrans, guided the restoration project.

Interior of renovated folger stables in woodside, ca

Today, the Folger Estate Stable Historic District includes the Stable, which is 188 feet long and 75 feet wide and is built from redwood harvested on the property. There’s also a blacksmith barn and dairy house as well as extremely well-preserved dry stone walls built in the late 1800s.

MCDONALD MANSION, circa 1879, Santa Rosa, California. McDonald Mansion, a.k.a. Mableton Mansion, is Santa Rosa's most prominent historic home.

Exterior of McDonald Mansion in Santa Rosa, CA

The 14,000-square-foot house was built in the late 1870s by Col. Mark Lindsay McDonald, owner of Santa Rosa's water company, builder of the Santa Rosa Street Railway and one of the town's most eminent early citizens. It was built in a style reminiscent of the plantations along the Mississippi.

Interior of McDonald Mansion in Santa Rosa, CA

During McDonald’s life, many notable visitors came to the house, including Mark Twain, and railroad magnates Leland Stanford and Charles Crocker. John and Jennifer Webley bought the aging mansion six years ago, and have restored it into a beautiful home, preserving this impressive landmark.

Richmond Natatorium

Your new Plunge: the greenest and healthiest indoor swimming pool in America

Richmond Natatorium

Summary of facts and figures

August 14, 2010 called the Richmond Natatorium or "The Nat". It was built and opened for public swimming in 1926. The Plunge operated continuously up until it was closed in August 2001 due to the structural failure of its exterior walls.

  • The beautiful original roof clerestory monitor was removed from the building in the late 1950's. This huge clerestory had 60 operable windows and 360 panes of glass and was a critical component of the original natatoriums design as it provided essential natural illumination and ventilation. It is not known why the monitor was removed. The monitor has been rebuilt to its original design as a part of the current restoration.
  • The other significant alteration of the original design occurred in the 1970s when the beautiful tile surrounding the pool and on the pool deck was sandblasted in preparation for a fiberglass coating which was applied. This fiberglass coating was removed for the restoration and the tile work, although not original, was brought back to the pool edge in a color scheme borrowed from the original.
  • The restored Plunge has reclaimed its original number of windows. We again have over 200 operable windows with 1,800 separate pieces of window glazing. The upper clerestory windows are operated by motorized controllers that allow for constant fresh air
  • The pool is 60' wide and 160' long, for a total surface area of 9,600 square feet that contains 320,000 gallons of water
  • The project is designed for a 50 year life span. Every choice was made for practicality, beauty and longevity. The sheetrock used is waterproof and impact resistant; the paint is of the highest quality. All the existing layers of paint were completely removed to provide an ultra stable substrate. The tile work is of quality absolutely unheard of in commercial work.
  • The mushroom fountain had to be taken out of the pool per health code requirements. We have repurposed the fountain to be a non-recirculating fountain activated by kids with a drinking fountain like handle. The water comes out of the top and drains to an adjacent wetland so that no water is wasted. The fountain is restored with tiles to match the original .
  • The front stairs were pulled forward 5 feet and the site graded up at the west side to allow for a sidewalk to come and meet the top of the stair. This allowed us to eliminate the existing concrete ramp and to restore the front to its original design with a single center door and flanking window.
  • The dressing rooms were pulled out of their original location under the balconies in order to efficiently phase the project and to create a larger pool deck. The dressing rooms that had been in the north wing were getting minimal use.
  • The pool is fully accessible with accessible bathrooms and showers. There are a total of 9 semi-private showers for each sex and ample lavatories, toilets and urinals for the large number of swimmers we will accommodate.

Richmond Natatorium
Energy conservation methods; reduced our electrical and gas load over a conventional municipal pool by about 50%:

  • LED high-bay lights in the Natatorium. 75% less energy than metal halide hi-bays they replaced.

  • Pool pump motor controller which optimizes the motor speed as the filters get loaded up.
  • 95% efficient pool heaters
  • 90% efficient heaters for our showers and sinks
  • We use a combination of high efficiency radiant heating technologies which heat the bodies in the space and not the air itself as do conventional systems. This is important when you have a lot of fresh air introduced into the space as we have at the Plunge. In the natatorium itself are 10 infrared gas powered radiant heaters hanging above your head. In the dressing rooms, bathrooms and shower areas, we have hot water radiators.
  • Programmable energy management system which turns fans and lights on and off automatically.
  • We use natural ventilation through our 200 operable windows to exhaust our indoor humidity rather than a mechanical electric dehumidification system. This alone will save us 100k in energy bills per year and creates a noticeably healthier interior air quality.

Richmond Natatorium
Solar energy production; generates about half or our energy needs:

  • 32 Kilowatt solar electric system on top of the re-built clerestory monitor
  • 3,600 square feet of solar hot water panels on the southeast facing main roof.

The combination of conservation and production lead to about 60-70% reduction in energy costs savings or about $100,000 per year at today's energy costs.

Richmond Natatorium
Other green and healthy strategies and systems:

  • Low water native plant landscaping
  • Wetland to capture water from play fountain
  • We have a ultra low flow shower head that feels like a normal shower
  • We have high velocity hand dryers to save on paper.
  • An ultra violet disinfectant system eliminates chloramines from the pool water. The Chloramines cause the bad "chlorine smell" and stings the eyes. The new Plunge pool water will feel and smell like fresh untreated perfectly clear water.
  • Our pool uses a saline chlorination system which generates the required residual chlorine in the pool water by changing a salt molecule to a chlorine molecule using electrically charged titanium plates. Using this system saves money on chemical deliveries and allows us to avoid storing large amounts of toxic chlorine in the basement. The salt system is also reportedly softer on your skin. The salt in the pool matches the salinity in your tear drops so it does not sting your eyes.
  • Our countertops and shower partitions are made from crushed recycled glass.
Richmond NatatoriumRichmond Natatorium

Eight extraordinary local artists, craftspeople and their crews made a significant contribution to the project:

  • John Wherle our famous muralist whose work truly stands out
  • Arlin Robbins our mosaic tile magician who created our mosaic star fish and the extraordinary seahorses, mermaid and King Neptune pieces
  • Sean Guttierez and his crew from Artizen Tile our masterful tile artisans who installed the extraordinary tile work in the showers and bath and the mushroom fountain tile restoration.
  • Sean Wentworth and his crew from Architectural Metal Works who made our wonderful fences and gates, our beautiful bronze work and custom hooks and bathroom stall hardware
  • Karl Kriedel and his crew at Bridewell window who made our extraordinary windows and doors
  • Kamala Bennett and Geoff Hall of Sentient Landscape who created a kingdom of plants that will enchant us as they fill up the site with flowers and gentle native bees
  • David Anson and his crew at Stonelight Tile hand made the fantastic artisan clay tiles for our mushroom fountain restoration using methods they have used continuously since the 1920s when the original tiles were created.
  • Brian Elder who designed and lettered our beautiful hand painted signs


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