About Vintage House

About Us

Vintage House is a unique senior center noted not just for its impressive facility but for the wealth of opportunities it provides the community’s boomers and seniors to learn, grow, have fun and make new friends.

We offer over 60 programs and services a week, many in collaboration with allied senior service providers. The result is a remarkable variety of relevant and timely programs and resources.

We are a volunteer-supported membership organization, not a government agency. Membership is open to everyone in the community who supports our mission, and volunteer opportunities abound.

Vintage House is located just off Sonoma Plaza on First Street East. Our modern center features classrooms, activity areas, a well-stocked library, a commercial kitchen and Stone Hall—our spacious hotel-style banquet venue with theater-quality projection and sound systems.

Our goal is to help Sonoma boomers and seniors lead happier, healthier lives. And we’ve been successfully doing that for many years.

Our Name explained:

Vintage House was founded in 1977 by a small group of committed Sonoma citizens led by Jerry Casson, recently retired assistant director of Sonoma County’s Social Services Department.  These community leaders saw a growing need for a local facility providing local senior services, a need not addressed by either city or county government.

Jerry, who volunteered as our first executive director, is considered the founder of Vintage House. Early Vintage House programs were offered in shared space at the First Congregational Church.  

Vintage House was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in 1983.  A community supported building fund was established, growing to nearly $50,000 by 1985.  Additional funding of $127,000 from the California Senior Center Board Act and a Sonoma County Community Development Block Grant of $61,000 came next. Although this was a lot of money in those days, it was still only the beginning of raising the necessary funds.

Jerry recruited Bob Lynch and his family-owned Sonoma Index-Tribune along with Rich Peterson and his family-owned Peterson Mechanical for initial community outreach and facility planning, and a growing cadre of volunteers joined the effort.

Bob Lynch recruited his friend and philanthropist Bob Stone to chair a major three-year $1 million capital campaign. This became the largest and most successful capital campaign of its era – with over 1,100 individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies contributing over $1 million in money and in-kind services to bring Jerry’s vision to life.

The City of Sonoma provided the land under a 55-year $1/year lease arrangement, and ground breaking took place on May 21, 1988. Our doors opened in February 1989.

For many years Vintage House was an all-volunteer-operated organization. Today, our current Executive Director, Priscilla Essert manages a small paid staff, but we remain a largely volunteer-dependent organization.

These volunteers still play a critical role in our success. In 2014, 371 volunteers provided over 12,000 hours in support for our programs and administration. Conservatively valued at $319,000* this in-kind labor augments our budget, greatly increasing our ability to offer exceptional quality programs in an extremely cost effective manner.

Local and county governments contribute less than 7% of Vintage House operating funds. Very modest fees, facility rental income, and our members and supporters cover the rest. Today, as from the beginning, generous donations of money and time help us lead Sonoma seniors toward happier, healthier lives.

*As estimated by Independent Sector’s analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, using the most recent figures available for California (2014).