As we launch our ninth year as a blogger for the Argus-Courier’s Petaluma360, we realize that our current “Then & Now” series involves prominent Petalumans from its earlier years and should be recognized as well as featuring the buildings they constructed way back “Then.” For example … Edward Spalding Lippitt, a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Ohio Wesleyan College, came to California in 1852 and then to Petaluma in 1862 to become the public school principal. The school system at that time only included the primary and grammar grades that were conducted in the old brick building on B Street. He also served as the city attorney.
Lippitt Academy – 1868
Lippitt’s son, Edward, in an article he wrote stated: “Feeling the need in this vicinity for opportunity to receive instruction in the higher branches of education, my father withdrew from his position as principal of public education and established what he was pleased to call ‘Prof. Lippitt’s Scientific & Classical Institute.” For five years, the school was located in a small building called “The Old Brier Church” on the east side of Third street near C street. Due to the encouragement he received for this school, Lippitt designed a new building that was constructed on a lot he purchased on D Street. The school moved there in 1868. Unfortunately, the school failed due to insufficient enrollment, and he lost his entire investment. Consequently, he returned to practice law. Later, the Board of Education purchased this Gothic style academy for use as Petaluma’s first high school in 1873. That building was also demolished and a residence for A.F. Tomasini was built on what is now 625 D Street in 1916.
Tomasini House – 625 D Street
Mr. Lippitt served the community in many ways. * He was a substitute preacher for the Petaluma Congressional Church, 1863-64. * He also served the Methodist Episcopalian Church as its preacher, 1865-67. * He was the first editor of the Petaluma Weekly Courier, founded 1867. * He served as a director of the Mutual Relief Association of Petaluma, a life trustee of the Petaluma Public Library.
Mr. Lippitt had a reputation as a “most eloquent and popular speaker, he was sought to canvas the state in the interest of political parties. President Rutherford Hayes and visited California in 1880, and his old friend and former classmate, Mr.Edward Lippitt, held an open house at his home at 6th & D Streets. It is obvious that Mr. Lippitt was one of Petaluma’s most distinguished citizens way back “Then.”
Resources: Petaluma Historical Museum & Library: *Photographs, *Article: Ed Mannion – Rear-View Mirror – 11/2/1963, *Article: Ada Clark – Ghosts of Past Glories Haunt Lippitt Home