For sale: windows from Santa Rosa’s theatrical past
BY CHRIS SMITH/The Press Democrat
A nearly frantic Patricia Anderson Di Ruocco of Sebastopol would love for you to come buy a pair of antique stained-glass windows salvaged long ago from downtown Santa Rosa’s former Roxy Theater.
But you’d better have a big truck. And a tall house.
The art deco windows are nearly five feet wide and 12 feet high. Di Ruocco said they came from the Roxy Theater that elegantly occupied a prominent corner of 5th and B until the earthquake of 1969 rendered it fractured ruins.
It’s possible the windows dated back to the early years of the 20th Century, when Dr. John Cline opened the theater as the Cline, a vaudeville house. Gaye LeBaron and her co-authors noted in “Santa Rosa: a Twentieth Century Town” that in 1919 the Cline Theater was praised as “the finest playhouse north of San Francisco.”
The quake-weakened theater was demolished in the late 1970s to make way for Santa Rosa Plaza. Di Ruocco doesn’t know who bought the windows or what that original buyer intended to do with them.
She found them in a barn at an estate sale in Sebastopol a decade ago. She was told there had been four, two of which had been purchased by others.
She persuaded her late husband, restaurateur Luigi Di Ruocco, that they would be perfect in the custom home they were planning to build in Occidental. They paid $2,000 for them.
“They were going to go at either end of the house,” she said.
But the construction project died along with Luigi Di Ruocco, who’d operated Railroad Square’s Ristorante Capri, in 2005.
For years now, his widow has stored the windows at her home in Sebastopol. But the place has been foreclosed, she said, and the pressure is on for her to vacate.
Unable to take the windows with her, Di Ruocco has tried frantically to find someone interested in buying the framed pieces of downtown Santa Rosa history. She’s gone on Facebook, and put an ad on Craigslist.
She said her first choice is to sell them – “I’d take $1,000 for both” – but she would donate them to a non-profit that would provide a public place for them.
“They need to be seen,” she said.
Though she has yet to find a taker, she believes she no longer has to worry about having to leave them when she moves out, and face a penalty from a bank that would likely have them trucked to the dump. A fellow with storage space on his property has offered to pick them up and put them in a safe place.
“It’s nice that they’re being saved,” Di Ruocco said, “but it’s too bad they’re not being shared.”