By Kathleen Reynolds • Photo Credit: Mary Beth Herman
The venerated, brown-shingled building sits back from Highway 29, between St. Helena and Calistoga. The Tucker Farm Center has been the site for many social gatherings, 4-H Club meetings, family reunions and dances in its 101 years.
Built by volunteers in 1921 on land donated by the Tucker family, it has been a center for the agriculture and viticulture community for generations. It served as a meeting hall for the Napa County Farm Bureau for many years, until that organization moved its headquarters to Jefferson Street in Napa.
“Our Mission now is to support theater and the arts,” says Chris Rogers, Tucker Farm Center’s event coordinator and site manager. “It’s been an economical venue for the community. Holding birthdays, weddings and memorials has kept us in the black. Different theater groups have rented it over the years. We donate it for educational purposes to groups like the Diamond Mountain Fire Safe Council. COVID put a halt to most parties. We haven’t brought back large groups yet. Elaine Johns has the Elevé Studio, teaching dance here several days a week.”
Rogers says that the hall can hold 150 seated guests for dinners and that there’s another back room for overflow. It has a unisex, accessible bathroom and a ramp to the entrance.
The hall was named for Reason P. Tucker. Tucker came to the Napa Valley in 1846 after travelling across the United States. He was known for organizing and heading the first group, and subsequent trips, to rescue survivors of the Donner Party. Once settled in the Napa Valley, he farmed wheat, backed the first quicksilver mine and owned part of Sam Brannan’s resort Calistoga.
But this cherished meeting and social hall has seen better days.
“The major renovations needed to get it in good order are the roof, foundation, total replacement of the siding, insulation and electrical systems,” says Rogers. “We don’t have a commercial kitchen. A restoration would also provide an opportunity to pave the rest of the parking lot and get better drainage done. The estimated cost starts at $3.5 million for a full historic renovation and preservation.”
“There was a time when there were many members, we had a newsletter, and it was an active place. But members have moved or passed away. We’ve talked about having a membership drive and the board has discussed a dues and benefits schedule.”
Chris Rogers continued, “The center has been through different iterations, but programs fade. Five years ago, I ran Tucker Farm Center Presents, a series of jazz shows and poetry readings. That lasted about three years. Our board has seven members and, of course, people come and go. Over the years, the Tucker Farm Center has done a great job and people have put in a lot of effort. I commend everyone who’s been a part of it.”
Board members are proud to speak about the center and their involvement.
“I have been involved with the Tucker Farm Center for about 20 years,” says Patty Rose, Tucker Farm Center board president What a magical building that holds so many memories for so many people. It’s now time to give back to the old girl, we are looking to raise funds to restore the building and keep it open for many generations to come.”
Board Treasurer Carol Bush echoed a similar sentiment. “Tucker Farm Center is a historic building filled with a hundred years of community and family memories. It is our privilege to keep it up in running and in good shape.”
Tucker Farm Center is a non-profit and doesn’t receive any government or state funding. It relies on donations and volunteers to keep it running.
The original plan for a 100-year anniversary fundraiser, Raise the Roof, was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Amy Thomason-Richardson of Ethos Event Collective stepped forward to help with the 2022 version of Raise the Roof.
“It will be a dinner dance with a silent auction hosted by Chris Canning, mayor of Calistoga,” says Thomason-Richardson, a Calistoga and St. Helena native. “The date is Saturday, October 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. The food is by Calistoga Catering. My dad, a local musician, will bring his Michael Thomason band to the stage. Sean Allen, Don Schmitt, Jamie Foster and Jessie Thomason make up the group that has travelled the world playing Americana Country music.”
Michael Thomason has played the Tucker Farm Center for the past 50 years. “I am honored to do my park in celebrating 100 years of the Tucker Farm Center,” he said in an email. “It has always held a special place in our community and through restoration of the old gal, we can hope future generations will have 50 years of memories to look back on as I do.”
Amy, too, grew up going to the center. “When I walk in, it just feels and smells like home. Tourism feeds the whole valley, which stems from those agricultural roots. They need to be preserved.”
Tickets to the Raise the Roof celebration are $100 each and information is available on the Tucker Farm Center Facebook page at facebook.com/tuckerfarmcenter and on Eventbrite.
Donations for the silent auction and to help with the repairs are welcome. Please inquire about donations for the silent auction by October 10. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about donations or call Amy at (707) 393-4302. Tickets and donations are tax deductible.
Raise the Roof Celebration
Saturday, October 22 | 6-10 pm | Dinner, Dance & Silent Auction