Why a museum for Cotati?

Cotati has been a community for over 120 years, and a city for almost 50; it has had an interesting and varied history, but never a museum.

Lloyd and Prue Draper, who owned The Cotatian weekly newspaper from 1951 to 1965, have collected Cotati historic documents, artifacts, and memorabilia for over 50 years, hoping that some day the city would have an appropriate place to store and display them, and make them available to the public. As various organizations in town disbanded, they entrusted their records and artifacts to the Drapers with the understanding that they would be appropriately preserved.

The Drapers, assisted pro bono by attorney Maurice Fredericks, established the Cotati Historical Society in 2007 as a California non-profit corporation. They appointed a Board of Directors and petitioned the City of Cotati to lease an unused room at City Hall for a historic museum and archive. Robert Leys, Cotati architect, produced the plan for converting the room from a much-partitioned police department into a museum.

The society began collecting furnishings­—display cases, tables, shelves, chairs, a desk —in 2008. The first items were antique glass and wood display cases donated by Harry Bosworth in Geyserville. A crew of volunteers—Bruce and Connie Martin, Bob Renati, Simone Wilson, Dave Thomas, and Prue and Robin Draper brushed off the dust of years and loaded the fragile old pieces into a stock trailer for the journey to Cotati.

Other items included a desk donated by the West Sonoma County Museum in Sebastopol, a table donated by T.J. Nelson of Windsor, a cabinet built by Paul Harvey for a set of map drawers donated by Tom Origer, and a large chest of drawers bought at a bargain at a yard sale.

Connie and Bruce Martin provided free use of a vacant warehouse as a furniture-refinishing locale. The Martins, Dave Thomas, Jim Wolford, Bob Herrerias, Prue Draper, Bob and Robin Draper, Arch Stewart, and Rick Stewart worked through the winter of 2008 and much of 2009 on refinishing the items.

In the fall of 2009, Bruce Hammond and Steve Eichbaum began remodeling the room at Cotati City Hall, with City Manager Dianne Thompson as design director. The plan was to make the room resemble the first grade classroom that it had been when the City Hall was the old Cotati School. City of Cotati crews handled demolition of old partitions and suspended ceiling; Dennis Thomas of North Counties Drywall donated all materials and labor to install new sheetrock; Johnny Kistenmacher of Aladdin Electric donated his services and materials to rewire the room; Hammond Fine Homes contributed material and labor for the wainscot and trim. Special thanks also go to Police Chief Robert Stewart, City Engineer Damien O’Bid, and Finance Director Jone Hayes.

Rick Stewart of Arch’s Glass donated and installed a new window; Michael Pastryk of Liberty Valley Doors designed and built a new door to match the building’s vintage doors. With coordination by Geoff Fox, Jeff Nelson of Trammell-Nelson Floors refinished the original old fir floor to a beautiful honey color that complements the old oak furnishings.

Dunn-Edwards Paints donated all paints and finishes used in the room and on the furniture; David Glaubinger directed the lighting plan and Lowe’s donated all track lights, electrical parts, and a shelf for the storeroom, which was carpeted courtesy of City Carpets. Mike Sheehan of Pacific Heating donated services of technicians several times to get the heating system operating, and Al Martinoni of Cotati Public Works managed necessary plumbing repairs in the small washroom.

Wendy and Bob Gilman of Window Perfect donated and installed Venetian blinds over windows cleaned by Rocky Deitz of Sunshine Services. TAP Plastics, Cotati Oaks True Value Hardware, and Grainger Co. provided discounts on necessary items. Jim Reaney primed the walls and John Moore recruited his whole family—wife, Lisa, and children Richard, Rachel, and Riley—to paint all walls, ceiling, and trim; Susan Harvey took over painting in the main room and storeroom. Hines Signs donated a custom-designed sign to credit the workers and donors. Bob Brooks of Copy, Mail & More filled all our printing needs gratis.

In short, the Cotati Museum is a tremendous community effort, with enthusiastic help given by many, many volunteers and local businesses. Without their help, it could never have happened.