As we continue to wander around the Petaluma Historic Downtown Business District, be sure to look UP and DOWN, as well to the RIGHT and to the LEFT, if you want to become familiar with the strangeness of various signs, objects, and architectural styles.
If you’re leaving the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library (20-4th Street), go to your left and walk up toward Western Avenue. You’ll come to a slight bend in the street and discover that you are now on Kentucky Street. There is even a sign posted at this bend identifying these two street names. To understand “why” this is, you have to go back in time when “A” Street existed between 4th & 5th Streets. (Now, the “A” Street parking lot.)
While you’re standing there, look UP and over to your RIGHT to the back of the Mutual Relief Insurance building, that faces Western Avenue. What do you see?
How could you not already be familiar with this Coca Cola sign? It’s so large. What is the story behind it being painted here? The follow excerpt was copied from my “Then & Now” Blog #26, posted on May 10, 2007: “The Petaluma Soda and Seiltzer Works was a Petaluma landmark starting in 1860 when it was founded by B.F. Connoly. The first factory was situated on Main Street. Back in 1860 no one had heard of Coco-Cola or Pepsi. One of the most popular drinks was Sarsaparilla.” That was way back Then!
“The original company changed hands several times. In the early 20s it was bought out by Mr. S.R. Kristiansen. – The firm later changed its name to Coca-Cola Bottling Company and the building still stands at Second & G Streets. Arnold Jansen took over ownership on the death of Mr. Kristiansen and continued its successful operation until the local bottling works were replaced by a larger, more efficient facility elsewhere.”
Now – the large Coca-Cola sign painted on the back wall of the Mutual Relief Insurance Co. building on the SE corner of Western and Kentucky is the only reminder that Petaluma once hosted a bottling works.
Stay tuned as we continue to roam through the downtown area.