A century ago there were scores of tiny communities in Sonoma County that appeared on no map, yet everyone knew where they were. Explored here earlier was Hinton, which was large enough to have its own post office for a time; nearby was Vine Hill, Trenton and Peachland. And then there was a string of farms south of Santa Rosa known as Bellevue.
You've passed the ghost of Bellevue countless times without knowing it. (See map.) When driving south on Highway 101, the Hearn Ave. exit leads to "auto row" along Corby Ave. After the last car dealership, the road takes a sharp turn to the west. That's Bellevue Avenue, a desolate mix of gritty homes and industrial buildings near the highway, but nicer a few blocks further down the street where Elsie Allen High School can be found. On the east side of the freeway there's the other part of Bellevue Ave. off of Santa Rosa Avenue; this spur is part of a modern subdivision, with landscaped streets, a park, and a grade school, a world apart from its poor relation on the other side of the freeway.
It was the construction of the highway that split Bellevue, the state of California seizing land for the road under eminent domain. The last we hear of Bellevue is in a 1957 Press Democrat article about a jury trial where an 84-year-old Bellevue farmer and the state fought over the fair market value for his place. The state's attorney argued it wasn't worth much because it was only good for truck-farm agriculture; witnesses for the farmer said it had potential for an industrial and/or subdivision site, and, of course, that's exactly what the two wings of Bellevue became.
The 1908 item below jokes that residents of the "lively settlement" of Bellevue were having so many children that they might rename the community after President Theodore Roosevelt, who held nutty concerns about "race suicide" unless "old Colonial stock" white Americans kept their birthrates up. As discussed in an earlier essay, Teddy's views weren't really Nazi-ish, but awkwardly expressed encouragement of American exceptionalism.
MAY CHANGE NAME TO "ROOSEVELT CORNERS"
Bellevue, the lively settlement just south of Santa Rosa, is establishing new records with alarming frequency. They not only raise splendid fruit, large poultry and many fine eggs from the flocks there, but in other lines they also excel. Wednesday night Mrs. Harry J. Barnett presented her husband with twins--two handsome baby girls, and the proud father is receiving congratulations on the momentous event in a dignified manner. Eleven children have been born in that vicinity within less than a year and the residents declare there is nothing resembling race suicide in that section. It is in serious contemplation to change the name of Bellevue to "Roosevelt Corners," in honor of Teddy and his race suicide theories. The mother and daughters are doing nicely, and Mr. Barnett is certainly the happiest man in seventeen states over the important event.- Santa Rosa Republican, October 15, 1908