Mystery photo no. 1: Church in Guerneville

Mystery photo no. 2: Church in Glen Ellen

Everyone loves a mystery. Here’s one you can help solve:

In the 1970s, Sonoma State University sent students in the college’s historical preservation course out to take photographs and collect data on sites around Sonoma County.

A year ago, SSU got a $5,000 grant from the California State Library to digitize the photos from that project, about 850 of them in all, said the college’s Digital Projects Librarian, Lynn Prime.

The problem is, some of the photos aren’t identified in detail. Documentation from the original project 40 years ago is incomplete.

“A lot of the paperwork and office files ended up in the professors’ files and came to us as part of an archive when the professors who ran the program retired,” she said.

So, SSU is reaching out to you. The ARTS blog will post some of these mystery photos, hoping that you can help supply the details.

For starters, we’re running two pictures of old churches, with Prime’s comments on each.

Mystery Photo #1 (ID# carpssu_065):

“We know it’s a church in Guerneville, and according to the information on the back of the photo is the oldest building in downtown Guerneville (circa 1895?) … the photo was taken sometime between 1974-1976,  student photographer unknown,” Prime said. “We don’t know what denomination the church represented when it was built, when it was built and by whom, where it is, or was, located in Guerneville.”

Mystery Photo #2 (ID# carpssu_075):

“We know it’s the Community Congregational Church, O’Donnell Lane, Glen Ellen. We don’t know when the church was built or any other details about it. The photo was taken by student photographer Frank Simmons in 1976.”

Dates, historical detail and identifications will help Prime and SSU with the digital archives.  And I’d like to hear your stories. Were you married in one of these churches? Was your son or daughter christened there? Tell me about it.

You can post your information and comments here, and you can also contact Prime directly at or (707) 664-4025.

For more information on the North Bay Historic Preservation Digital Collection, and a lot more photographs (about 300 so far), visit