SONOMA STATE HISTORICAL PARK - CALIFORNIA
Blue Wing Inn, designated 1932, No.17
The Blue Wing Inn in Sonoma, California, was one of the first hotels built in the state north of San Francisco. What began as the first property transfer in the new Pueblo de Sonoma and a simple adobe residence transformed with time and the addition of more rooms into a storied landmark. During the California Gold Rush it was used by miners going to and from the gold fields and by the U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Sonoma. After many years, owners and uses - the Blue Wing Inn was purchased by the State of California in 1968 and is currently under study for its best use as part of Sonoma State Historic Park.
Mariano Vallejo was named administrator to oversee the closing of Mission San Francisco Solano. He laid out, in accordance with the Spanish Laws of the Indies, the streets and lots of the new Pueblo de Sonoma. The first recorded property transaction was Vallejo's granting of the east half of the lot 35 to Antonio Ortega, Vallejo's new majordomo, to whom Vallejo had delegated the day-to-day work of secularization of the Mission. This lot was across the street from the front of the old Mission's main building. Ortega continued to live in the adobe and established a tavern that continued to operate until August 1848.
The property was purchased from Ortega by James C. Cooper and Thomas Spriggs on August 15, 1849 (the transfer was witnessed by Vallejo). Cooper and Spriggs soon expanded the hotel to incorporate a gambling hall and a saloon. They added a second story with a wood-frame balcony and stairway to provide access to the second floor rooms. The building had the appearance of a typical Monterey Style adobe. In 1852 they completed a 35’ by 35’ two story adobe addition abutting the west end of the original structure. According to reports of travelers, The dining room and kitchen were located in the east room of the first floor. The central room served as the gambling room and the westernmost housed the saloon and business office. One the second floor the west and central rooms housed overnight guests. For a time Cooper housed his family in the eastern room.
The hotel was known as Sonoma House. This was the name of an earlier business that Cooper and a different partner had operated near the southeastern corner of the Sonoma's plaza. Thomas Spriggs died in May 1851 and soon thereafter the name of the inn was changed to Blue Wing Inn. The reason for the change isn't clearly known but there was a very popular saloon at 138 Montgomery Street in San Francisco and Cooper may have been wanting to take advantage of that popularity. Stories and myths about goings on at Sonoma House and the Blue Wing Inn are plentiful. Among the notables said to have stayed, gambled or drank there are Joseph Hooker, Philip Kearny, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, John C. Fremont, Lotta Crabtree and Joaquin Murrieta.
Blue Wing Inn - TODAY
The specific purpose for which this corporation is organized includes the preservation, restoration, and adaptive reuse of the Blue Wing Inn adobe, historic buildings in the Sonoma State Historic Park on the Sonoma Plaza, and other historic sites in Sonoma Valley for the benefit of present and future generations, through partnerships and innovative strategies, working with the State of California and the local community to assure these historic sites located in the City of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley, California, remain vibrant and thriving parts of the community.