(Editor?s note: This is one in a series of monthly stories taking a close-up look at neighborhoods in Petaluma.)
Chris Oaks remembers buying his Bassett Street house 36 years ago and thinking it would make a good starter home for him and his new bride.
?This was supposed to be the beginning of moving on to other places,? the 62-year-old builder said. ?But it always looked better than the alternative.?
Today, Oaks and his wife, Susan, share their Victorian home with their daughter and grandson and are one of several neighborhood families who have put down roots along the streets near City Hall and Petaluma High School.
Cathy Podesta and her husband, Gary, moved to Bassett Street 30 years ago, thinking they would fix up an early 1900s home and move along in five years or so.
?Here we are 30 years later, still fixing it up and still working on it,? she said.
Even the residents whose years in the neighborhood number in the single digits can see themselves staying far into the future.
?I kind of hope I grow old here,? said Lana Reuter, a mother of two young children who moved to Baker Street seven years ago.
Elsa Beatty and her family relocated to Petaluma from Corvallis, Ore., a year and a half ago due to her husband Jason?s Coast Guard job. They were drawn to their Bassett Street home because it?s close to the downtown.
?We felt strongly about living within walking and biking distance to town,? Beatty said. ?We often park our car for a few days before we need to get back into it.?
The nature of her husband?s job means the Beattys are never certain about how long they?ll stay in one spot, but they were welcomed with open arms when they moved to the neighborhood last year.
Shortly after arriving, they were invited to a post-Butter & Egg Days Parade barbecue on the lawn outside nearby City Hall.
The event, which happens occasionally over the years, is one of several get-togethers put on by neighbors.
?It was a great way for us to meet everyone,? Beatty said. ?It was a great feeling, to know that your neighborhood cares enough to organize something like that.?
Feelings of camaraderie and mutual admiration are common among residents of the neighborhood that encompasses parts of English, Bassett and Douglas streets ? and their side streets ? northeast of the high school.
There are several Victorian homes from the late 1800s in the neighborhood, along with smaller bungalows, former farmhouses and other residences that became part of the city as Petaluma grew west.
There have been a few changes over the years.
The land where the high school sits was once the city?s fairgrounds. The brick-and-white column Washington Grammar School once stood where City Hall is now and the Petaluma City Schools administration offices are located in the old Hagstrom?s Big T market on Douglas Street, which closed in the mid-1990s.
Today, Keny?s Donuts is the only non-school tenant in the old Hagstrom?s shopping center. Residents said they signed a petition to keep Keny?s open after the school district moved in.
The loss of the grocery store changed the character of the neighborhood a little, Oaks said.