Collections Spotlight: Rosenberg's Gift Box

November 23, 2020

Megan Kane, Collections Registrar

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the busiest shopping season of the year just around the corner, let’s remember a local business that served the shopping needs of Santa Rosa and the whole county for decades, Rosenberg’s Department Store. This striking box from Rosenberg’s is part of the Museum of Sonoma County’s permanent collection.

Rosenberg's Department Store gift box (MSC Collection).

Rosenberg’s first started as a dry goods store in Santa Rosa under the name The Red Front in 1897. It was founded by Max Rosenberg, who immigrated from Poland. By the time his business moved to the corner of 4th and B Streets in the 1910s, it had become Rosenberg’s Department Store, selling almost everything you might ever need under one roof.

(Slide 1) Original Rosenberg's, 1919 (MSC Collection); (Slide 2) 1952 postcard featuring the Rosenberg Building, then operating as a F.W. Woolworth store (MSC Collection).

A fire in 1936 badly damaged the “old Rosenberg’s” building which it shared with the Santa Rosa Hotel, and a new location was built. This time at 4th and D Streets, the new Rosenberg’s was built in the finest Art Deco style. There, Rosenberg’s stayed until 1988. It was purchased by Bill McNeany in 1951, and he and his family ran the business until it closed in 1988, at one point selling it to a conglomerate, but buying it back in the early 1980s. Today, you can still see the building that used to be Rosenberg’s, it houses Barnes and Noble in downtown Santa Rosa.

Roseberg's. ca. 1940s (MSC Collection).

This particular Rosenberg’s box found its way to the Museum through our Curator of History, Eric Stanley, who discovered it in his grandmother’s attic and donated it to the Museum. Our bright orange-striped box, with its built-in handle, was equally suited to carrying home your purchase or giving a gift to a loved one. Can you remember the excitement of carrying a new purchase out of the store, or of a box like this one during a celebration?


The Museum of Sonoma County maintains a permanent collection of over 18,000 objects, documenting the region's rich history and celebrating local artists.


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The mission of the Museum of Sonoma County is to engage and inspire our diverse community with art and history exhibitions, collections, and public programs that are inclusive, educational, and relevant.