After seeing the Toscano Hotel of course I had to come home and do some research. It turns out that the building was not originally built as a hotel. It was built in 1851 and was a general store, warehouse and even lending library. However in 1886, two Italian immigrants from Tuscany rented the building as a working mans hotel. The hotel was intended to be a place for the men from Tuscany who helped quarry basalt in the area. In 1902 the hotel was expanded providing a kitchen, dining room and additional rooms on the second floor.
The hotel was operated by the same family and their descendants until 1955. Jack London was a regular customer of the hotel during his lifetime.
The Toscano Hotel was boarded up for many years after until it was recognized that the building provided an important piece of California's history and architecture. In 1972 with the help of the Sonoma League of Historic Preservation and under the ownership of the State Department of Parks and Recreation the hotel was beautifully restored. Docents from the League of Women Voters offer tours of the hotel on certain days of the week.
For an excellent history of the Toscano Hotel see ; http://sonomaleague.org/toscano.html
This is one of three old hotel buildings facing the plaza in downtown Sonoma but unlike the others, which house businesses, this is esentialyl a museum open to tours. Originally built in about 1851, it eventually became a hotel and in the late 19th century was renamed the Toscano Hotel, catering heavily to Italians during the period of substantial Italian immigration into the area. It is owned by the State and part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, with docent tours involving the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation.
The Toscano Hotel, built in the 1850s, is a quick and interesting historic stop if you're in Sonoma on the right afternoons. Take a tour through the parlor, bar, and hotel in the main building, and the kitchen and dining room in the back building. The docents are friendly and willing to answer your questions.
Because it's staffed by volunteers, the hotel is open for only a few hours each week: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.