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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

HISTORY: May Downtown Napa History Tour

May History Tour will take you on a stroll down memory lane past Napa’s remarkable Victorians and their gardens.

Meet at the Goodman Library, 1219 First Street at 9:45 in comfortable walking shoes.

Tuesday, May 21st; 10- 11:30am

$15 for members, $20 for non-members, RSVP or 224.1739


Within easy walking and viewing distance of the Napa River, this area was home to Napa’s first “rich and famous” residents. Most of the buildings were constructed in the last quarter of the 19th century, roughly between 1872 and 1910. Some of the riverboat captains selected this area for their ease of access to the bustling embarcadero. As many as sixty ships per day plied these waters in its heyday. Steamboats, many of them paddleboats, ferried passengers to and from the San Francisco Bay.

Early in its history, the town served as a jumping off place for the overland trek to the Gold Country. Later, wealthy, San Francisco socialites traveled to Napa via boat to summer at the valley’s legendary resorts, the most famous of these were located upvalley in St. Helena, Soda Springs, and Pope Valley.

The City of Napa was located at this spot because it was at the uppermost point of the river’s navigability. It was thus a natural trade and transportation center for travelers and agricultural, commercial, and industrial goods. The town’s first bankers built homes here, which have been repurposed today as restaurants, shops, and B&B’s. Architectural styles are varied and include Napa’s best examples of Second Empire.

Tour Highlights

The George E. Goodman Mansion was constructed between 1872 and 1873 and is one of the few examples of the Second Empire style in Napa. This home was built for Goodman, who in 1858 opened Napa’s first bank with his brother James. The landscaping originally extended to Brown Street until zoning laws in the 1950s permitted the construction of the apartments on the former lawn.

Churchill Manor was constructed in the early 1880s in the Second Empire style with a mansard roof. The porch, the third-story addition, and the siding date from around 1905. This property was built for Edward S. Churchill, a prominent Napa banker and business partner with George Goodman, whose house stands right across Oak Street. With 30 rooms in total, this is one of the largest houses in Napa.

Emanuel Manasse Mansion was built in 1886 by William H. Corlett in Stick-Eastlake style. This type of Victorian architecture often consists of a steep pitched gable roof with cross gables supported by decorative trusses, overhanging eaves, and exposed rafter ends. The home was built for Emanuel Manasse, a foreman and later partner at the Sawyer Tannery, who invented the tanning process, known as “Nappa Leather”. This building is an elaborate, two-story house that consists of five gabled extensions. The building remains largely unaltered.

Cedar Gables, designed by the famous English-born architect Ernest Coxhead, was built by Edward S. Churchill as a wedding gift for his son. This unique-looking, two-story house has a side-facing gable roof, shingle siding, and windows of various designs. The building was shifted ca. 1905 to allow for this addition to the north façade. The building has remained unaltered since then and still reflects much of original architecture, which dates from 1892.

Andrew Sampson House (ca.1850, then ca.1900) The Captain Andrew Sampson house was one of the earliest residences in Napa. Active in the Napa River trade, Andrew Sampson operated a tow boat line and schooner. The house may have been razed around 1870 and rebuilt as the present two-story house.


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