Interview with Edmond Rossi

Edmond Rossi (1891-1979) was the son of James Rossi, owner of Rossi’s Hotel. The hotel was located on the site of today’s Cheda Building at Tunstead and San Anselmo Avenue. He was interviewed on June 6, 1978 by Claire Villa and Anne Pogojeff of the San Anselmo Historical Commission.

Anne Pogojeff
This recording is between Ed Rossi and Claire Villa of the San Anselmo Historical Commission.

Claire Villa
You were saying you came –

Edmond Rossi
We came over here after the earthquake, and first we came into Larkspur, and then my folks bought a hotel in San Anselmo where the Cheda Building is now, that brick building. Then it was a shingled building. And we were there until around 1915, I think. And then we went to Fairfax from there, and went into the restaurant business up there, hotel, and we were there –

Claire Villa
What restaurant was that?

Edmond Rossi
Rossi’s.

Claire Villa
Rossi’s. Where was that in Fairfax?

Edmond Rossi
It was right opposite the station. The old station at Fairfax, on the right-hand side, right above the Post Office. And, of course, that doesn’t give you much on San Anselmo.

Claire Villa
Oh, that’s all right. We were particularly interested in the restaurant or the hotel you had in San Anselmo. The building was already there?

Edmond Rossi
Yes, it was already there, and the train passed within – in those days they had the electric rail, you know, the electric trains. And the train passed right in front hotel about thirty feet away from the entrance, fifty feet or so. We were right at the station there.

Rossi

Rossi Hotel after 1910 fire

Claire Villa
How big a hotel was it?

Edmond Rossi
Well, we had about ten rooms there. And we had a candy store. It was a candy store, restaurant and the hotel.

Claire Villa
Did you cater to tourists or summer people?

Edmond Rossi
At that time, people that had summer homes, they came over and lived, stayed there steady. Because, you know, the earthquake did a lot of damage in San Francisco. And we catered to people that came in, like when they were putting up the bank in San Anselmo, we took care of the men there that were building the building there and things like that. But we had some steady boarders there. And, let’s see, Mrs. Needham had a place up a little further from us. It was a sort of a candy store. And, of course, as the days went on and the months went on, why, more businesses began to come into the town, because there were more people staying there then. At that time, why, as I say, there was mostly summer homes up there. People would come up from the city and different places for the summer and stay. But when the earthquake come in San Francisco, the people that lived over there that had the summer homes over here came over and lived the year round. You take Yolanda, and Lansdale and Pastori Station. A lot of them had homes up in there, which was all San Anselmo. They called it the Bush Tract then. Around Lansdale and Yolanda, and it was quite a few people came over. A lot of them were camping.

Claire Villa
Where did you family live?

Edmond Rossi
We lived in the hotel, yes. Later on, we bought a home up on Hazel Avenue.

Claire Villa
But you grew up in San Anselmo then?

Edmond Rossi
Well, when we came over here, I was about, I imagine fourteen or fifteen.

Claire Villa
Did you go to high school here?

Edmond Rossi
No. What schooling I had, I had in San Francisco.

Claire Villa
How long did your family have that? Was that called Rossi’s Villa?

Edmond Rossi
Rossi’s Hotel. We stayed there, I guess, six or seven years at the hotel, and we had a fire there, and that’s when we moved to Fairfax and went into business there.

Claire Villa
When the building burned down, was that when the Cheda building was built?

Edmond Rossi
Yes.

Claire Villa
About what year was that?

Edmond Rossi
I think it was around ’14 or ’15, I forget now. [note: The fire was in December 1910]. Yes, when the fire took place, we moved to Fairfax, and my folks went into business in Fairfax there, and then my mother passed away, and I sold out my half share. She left me her half share, and I sold out to my dad, and then I had a piece of property up on Bolinas Avenue where the Sherwood Apartments are now. Well, right at the firehouse, you know where that is?

Claire Villa
Yes, I know where that is.

Edmond Rossi
There’s a Seven-Eleven store on the –

Claire Villa
Oh, yes.

Edmond Rossi
Yes, I owned that piece of property there. I had around three acres there, and I owned that, and I had a tenant on the place then. He was also in the restaurant and hotel business, and he moved out. My wife and I took the place over then right after my mother passed away. So we were in business for ourselves then.

Claire Villa
You lived in San Anselmo then for many years after?

Edmond Rossi
No, when the fire took place, we, as I say, had this home in San Anselmo, and we stayed there for a while, and then we went to Fairfax after the fire in the hotel there.

Claire Villa
So you moved your residence to Fairfax?

Edmond Rossi
Yes, oh, yes, we lived in Fairfax. When we went up there, we stayed there. [Long pause] Was there anything else?

Claire Villa
Well, we were particularly interested in your recollections about San Anselmo. You mentioned Needham’s Candy Store. Do you recall what other businesses there were around –

Edmond Rossi
Well, as I said, as things went along, you know, as time went along, why, there were more businesses coming in like drug stores. Mrs. Shapira had the first drug store there. Miss Shapira, and then she married later on, oh, years later. And then, Mr. Hund, he had a drug store there. And then there was a meat market that moved in there, Mr. Begley from San Rafael, Begley Brothers Meat Company. They came down and opened up a butcher shop there. And then there was a baker moved in there. Diehl, I think was his name. And then after that came, oh, what’s their name? Are they still in business in San Anselmo, the bakery there?

Claire Villa
Kientz?

Edmond Rossi
Kientz, yes.

Claire Villa
They’re still in business.

Edmond Rossi
They came in, yes. And, McLaren had the stable there on Ross Avenue where that Santa Barbara Bank is now. And, let’s see, Mrs. Fletchers. Her name was –

Claire Villa
Sturdivant?

Edmond Rossi
Sturdivant, then she was Miss Sturdivant. They lived in the Barber Tract. That was below where Perry’s, where the Barber Tract is there? And, well, then there was the lumber company opened up there, E. K. Wood. And it started to build up pretty fast there. And Bill Deysher, he had the blacksmith shop there for years, he – and besides our place there, there was the Linda Vista Hotel also in San Anselmo. That was down below where the, I think, what’s the name of the place now? The place has built up so darned much. I think the, Humane Society has a –

Claire Villa
Oh, the thrift shop.

Edmond Rossi
Thrift shop there, it was right opposite that. What’s the name of that, San Anselmo Avenue, is that?

Claire Villa Yeah, it’s on San Anselmo Avenue. It’s across the street.

Edmond Rossi
Yes, and then, Cazeaux, a French place. They opened up where Rossi’s Drug Store is there, in along in there.

Claire Villa
Are those Rossis related to you?

Edmond Rossi
No, no, no. That street, there was hardly any — well, Butler’s, they had their pasture for their cows where the firehouse is now.

Claire Villa
The new firehouse?

Edmond Rossi
Yes. And, well, quite a few real estate people in there, Rocca brothers, and Studley, and Leach, and quite a few real estate offices opened up. And let’s see, what other business moved in there? Barber shop and –

Claire Villa
Do you remember very much about Hund’s Drug Store?

Edmond Rossi
Oh, yes, they were right opposite us.

Claire Villa
Right across the street.

Edmond Rossi
Yes, yes, where the bank is there now.

Claire Villa
Now, when you spoke of the men building the bank doing business with you, were you speaking of that bank, or were you speaking of the one over on Bank Street?

Edmond Rossi
No, the one on Bank Street there. That was the first bank there. Mr. Foote was the manager there.

Claire Villa
Do you remember when Hund’s Drug Store was moved across the street and made into the San Anselmo Hotel? We were told the building was moved, but no one can remember when.

Edmond Rossi
No, I don’t remember that. That was after we left.

Claire Villa
It may have been. The drug store was still there in 1925.

Edmond Rossi
Well, after I left Fairfax, I went to Tiburon. I was in business down there.

Claire Villa
Oh, I see. Were you still in the restaurant business?

Edmond Rossi
Yes, restaurant and bar. I sold out to Tommie’s. I don’t know whether you know where Tommie’s is in Tiburon.

Claire Villa
Oh, yes.

Edmond Rossi
Yes, and then I built my building across the street from where – well, I was in, when I first went to Tiburon, I was partners with Sam’s, Sam Vella. And, I sold out to him. And I built a building across the street where the El Burro is now, the Mexican restaurant there.

Claire Villa
You’ve lived in Marin a long time?

Edmond Rossi
Well, as I say, we came over here after the earthquake. And I’ve seen a lot of changes, believe me. [Laughter] I tell you, I drive through San Anselmo now, which I don’t get up very often. I don’t have a car. When I came here, I sold it because we have a limousine that takes us here and there. And, yesterday I came through there. My brother-in-law was over here and wanted to go up to San Rafael, and so we drove around through some of San Anselmo, and by golly, every time I go through there, I kind of get lost! [Laughter] Oh, yes, when we first went there, the station, as I say, was right opposite our place there, and the trains went from San Anselmo to West End and San Rafael, B Street, and all in through there, into the main depot where the Whistlestop is now. And then it branched off to the left to go to Fairfax. But, God, I tell you, the changes that have been made.

Claire Villa
You said that when your family bought the hotel it was a shingled building.

Edmond Rossi
Yes.

Claire Villa
Did they keep that same building, or did you build, add on, or –

Edmond Rossi
No, no, we, we just kept the same building as it was. We didn’t add on to it.

Claire Villa
It wasn’t as large as the Cheda building is now, was it?

Edmond Rossi
Oh, no. No, it was ground floor and then the rooms upstairs and the dining room, and the candy store, and the kitchen. Then we had, we had quite a piece of ground there. Oh, we went up past where, is it Kaufman’s now?

Claire Villa
Yes.

Edmond Rossi
In through there, that’s where our stable was there for the horses.

Claire Villa
Oh, the property went all the way down between the station and San Anselmo Avenue?

Edmond Rossi
Yes, yes. Right opposite the firehouse was our stable there for the horse.

Claire Villa
Oh, I see. Did you rent horses out?

Edmond Rossi
No. Just for ourselves. I had a saddle horse. Those were the horse and buggy days.

Claire Villa
Oh, yes. Do you know who owned that building before your family bought it? Or what it was used for?

Edmond Rossi
We didn’t buy the property there. We were leasing it from, it wasn’t Tunstead. It was somebody else. Tunstead owned an awful a lot of property in there. And where, as I say, where the firehouse is, that was Butlers had the cows in there. They had sort of a dairy. And then afterwards, they played baseball in there. That was a baseball grounds. And they used to have the 4th of July parades and everything. But I can’t think, I don’t know whether it was Tunstead that owned our place or not. I don’t think it was. I can’t think of the name of the fellow now.

Claire Villa
Do you have any idea when the building might have been built?

Edmond Rossi
No, no, I don’t. No I don’t have any – I know it was there when we went there, since we bought it from someone else. And I don’t know how long it had been built.

Claire Villa
But before 1906?

Edmond Rossi
Oh, yes. Yes, yes.

Claire Villa
Well, we can go through county records and try and find it. That’s mainly what we were interested in. We’d heard about this Rossi’s Hotel, but no one really remembered anything about it. So we were really very interested in that. Well, thank you very much.

Edmond Rossi
Well, it’s my pleasure to help you.

Claire Villa
We appreciate that. It’s going to be a big help to us.

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