Friday, February 08, 2008

Walking Tour, Book To Retrace Suisun City's History

Walking Tour, Book To Retrace Suisun City's History
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic | February 07, 2008 15:59

Main Street in downtown Suisun City pictured in a historic picture, above, and how it appears today. A walking tour and book about Suisun City's history are in the works. Photo by Vacaville Heritage Society (top) Brad Zweerink (bottom)

SUISUN CITY - A one-time brothel where women sat on a display in the second-floor windows may be one stop on a Suisun City walking tour now in the works.

Brothels and saloons flourished when Suisun City was a bustling port, said Garry Rowe, board president of the Suisun Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District.

The walking tour is being coordinated by Sandi Hudson, a Suisun City resident who owns a Web site design firm.

The district will pay for the walking tour with money it received from the Heritage Society of West Central Solano when the society disbanded. Rowe said the county had awarded the society a $5,800 grant to use toward a walking tour. The society then gave the money to the district 'to move the project forward.'

Hudson is almost ready to start designing a brochure for the tour that will include historic homes, buildings and points of interest. The brochure will feature a map that matches the numbered sites.

Rowe and Hudson both would love to see Suisun City have a heritage commission of its own, and maybe even Victorian-themed, guided walking tours during seasonal events sponsored by the city. First, though, 'We have to get a self-guided (tour),' Hudson said.

In addition to the walking tour, Rowe is researching Suisun City history for a book proposal he hopes to submit soon to Arcadia Press, which publishes small books depicting a city's history largely through photos with 30- to 50-word captions.

Arcadia Press contacted Rowe two months ago with a proposal.

'In researching the information, I kinda caught the bug,' said Rowe, who added he has learned things he didn't know about Suisun City, even though his family has been in the area for generations.

For instance, he said, the 'military influence' was felt during World War I when the Liberty Train came through the city to sell war bonds. Hudson said the city contributed a regiment of men during the Civil War.

Photos of a train wreck downtown in which the engineer was killed, a schooner being loaded with potatoes, flooded streets and more may be included in the book, which Rowe said will be 128 pages or more.

While Rowe already has 70 vintage shots of Suisun City he acquired from the Vacaville Heritage Council, he hopes current and former residents will have photos to contribute. The book will feature as many as 110 photos.

As photos are selected for the book, Hudson particularly likes those from the 1800s. Rowe also likes those of more recent history. He points to the Pioneer Ballroom, a one-time music venue where, in September 1966, rockers attended a Grateful Dead concert.

Bringing the city's history alive through such projects could attract visitors, Rowe said, and that would be good for business.

Babs Curless, owner of Babs Delta Diner, said the tour and book will be 'wonderful.'

Babs Delta Diner is a Suisun City landmark. Hanging on its walls are 'a couple old pictures of how Suisun used to look,' said Curless, who added that a walking tour will prove popular because 'so many people walk down here at night' to enjoy the waterfront.

Curless' diner overlooks the water. Some of her customers are old-timers who share stories about the city's history, such as how a building where Curless opened her first Suisun City restaurant was once a roller rink.

Rowe said he believes many residents take the city's history for granted. He and Hudson hope the book, tour and other projects now in the 'talking' stage will change that.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at


To submit photos for considered for the book on Suisun City's history, call Garry Rowe at 631-0609 or contact Sandi Hudson at 707-429-9794 or

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