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Sonoma County Historic Resources

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About the Historic Preservation Program

Photo of Oldest stone winery in California, Built by Count Agostan Haraszthy in 1857. Old photo of view of Occidental, California

Protecting the County’s Unique Sense of Place

The first document prepared by the County of Sonoma on preserving historic resources is the "Historic Preservation Program: Sonoma County General Plan Technical Report" dated 1976. It defined historic preservation by explaining the basis for it, what it encompasses, and its value to County communities:

"In recent years the scope of historic preservation has expanded to protect remnants of what has happened in the lives and development of a people or society, whether it be at the national, state, or local level. At the local level, historic preservation can be applied to assist communities in the understanding and protection of their special heritage.

The Sonoma County landscape contains many unique features that make it an outstanding part of the California landscape. The great variety of landscapes found within Sonoma County have provided the setting for a wide range of economic and cultural activities throughout its history. The result is a landscape fabric of rich historical texture, an integral part of the environment needing understanding and protection.

Historic preservation is more than just preserving sites and structures associated with the lives of national patriots, statesmen, and other heroes of past eras; historic preservation encompasses more than Sonoma County’s Fort Ross, Petaluma Adobe, or Vallejo’s Lachryma Montis Home. It is more than just saving old buildings, putting them to practical use, if appropriate, and establishing criteria for creating an historic district so that the traditional design fabric of a community is sustained. In many instances, particularly in the conservation of structures, it makes good sense to rehabilitate buildings or to readapt old structures to new uses.

A fundamental basis for historic preservation is that the retention of the best of the past serves as a constant reminder of our heritage and development. Identity and pride are strengthened when a community’s history is interwoven with its developing fabric. The value of preservation, therefore, can be measured in economic as well as social terms."