Historic sites in need of saving

(Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series that explores preservation efforts in Petaluma).

The way Petaluma historian Katherine Rinehart sees it, there are a multitude of unkempt landmarks that could be saved from "demolition by neglect" if the city seeks Certified Local Government, or CLG, designation.

Rinehart highlighted six historic structures that tell the stories of Petaluma's past but have fallen by the wayside from years of neglect. Each stands to benefit from improved funding and more consistent planning, which advocates say CLG status can help provide by encouraging partnerships between local governments, the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service.

The Silk Mill

Perhaps Petaluma's most well known landmark, the Silk Mill was the very first mill of its kind west of the Mississippi. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources, the mill was originally home to San Francisco's Carlson-Currier Silk Manufacturing Company. In the 1940s, Sunset Line & Twine Company took residence in the building, manufacturing silk parachutes for World War II and cords for parachutes used in the Apollo and Gemini space programs.

For a decade, the building has been closed and slowly degrading. Recently, Rinehart and other concerned citizens banded together to nominate the Silk Mill for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2014 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Rinehart said the group should find out this month whether or not the mill made list. Such recognition, she said, would give the Silk Mill national attention, thereby attracting developers who might have the money and the expertise to take on such an enormous rehabilitation project.

The Railroad Trestle

Petaluma's historic 500-foot long railroad trestle was once the foundation for the Petaluma Trolley. Built in 1904, the trolley was part of the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad, which transported passengers between Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad was the only interurban passenger and freight railroad in Sonoma County.

To begin restoring the trestle, and ultimately bring the trolley back to Petaluma, a Coastal Conservancy Grant was awarded to the city in October 2010 for $475,000, with a local match requirement of $25,000. Between 2011 and 2013, that grant funded the design engineering, environmental assessment and construction documents needed for the trestle's renovation.

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