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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

~ 32nd Annual Holiday Candlelight Tour ~


1755 First Street

by Rebecca Yerger


To boost your Yuletide mood, stroll along First, Seymour and Third Streets to tour nine historic Napa buildings during Napa County Landmarks 32nd Annual Holiday Candlelight Tour. On Saturday, December 9 from 2 to 6 pm, enjoy the charming to sophisticated interiors of these private homes, an intimate boutique hotel and the neighborhood’s sacred place all decked out in their holiday finery.


Set against the backdrop of a brisk December afternoon that fades into a chilly dusk, the long-standing seasonal tradition will also showcase locally owned antique, classic and vintage vehicles (weather permitting). The air will also be filled with holiday music performed by local talent.


Another treat for the senses will be tasty sweets from local purveyors served at the reception. Held in Turnbull Hall of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the Holiday Candlelight Tour begins at this location. Before embarking on the self-guided tour, you will need to check-in and receive your tickets at the hall, and brochure filled with details about each featured property.

Architecturally, Turnbull Hall is in stark contrast to the Old World inspired Gothic Revival style of the church. The hall is of the Mid-Century Modern style designed by Napa’s noted Modernism architect, the late Robert Keenan.


The St. Mary’s Church Sanctuary will be open for three hours, 2 to 5 pm. (St. Mary’s holds an evening mass every Saturday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm within their church.) However, while open, the richly appointed sanctuary will be open to view. Within the church, and at every Holiday Candlelight Tour location, docents will be on-site to share historical and architectural information about the property. Live music will be performed by parishioners of the church: Ingrid Foster, Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls with Michael Pratt and Rylan Nikolai Bates.


Three private residences on Third Street will welcome the Holiday Candlelight Tour ticket-holder. The charming farmhouse at 2288 Third Street is modest in size and Queen Anne details. However, its interior possesses an array of details and features too numerous to list. It’s kitchen is a must see! It’s a foodie’s dream come true with a fully appointed chef’s kitchen.


Close by is the elegantly detailed 2265 Third Street residence. Both its interior and exterior are adorned with elaborate wood trims, moldings and other decorative elements. The front porch leads to double solid wood doors. Just inside in the foyer is the intricately detailed interior staircase. While the home features architectural detailing from the 19th century, the furnishings and interior appointments are thoroughly modern.


The final home along this street is 2110 Third Street. Its architecture is inspired by the Tudor style. Typical of a home with its design rooted in England, the exterior entrance onto the property is through a vine-covered garden gate. The interior of this modest sized home retains many of its original details including solid oak flooring, barrel ceiling and an eight-foot tall, peaked, multi-paned window. The serene gardens and exterior spaces of this property will also be included on this tour.


Nearby at 817 Seymour Street is a Tudor Revival home. Although kindred in spirit architecturally, it does differ from 2110 Third Street in design and detailing. Its distinctive features include Medieval English details, such as a turret and decorative chimney. The interior features cove ceilings and hardwood flooring. And true to its English design heritage, the property has a charming rose garden. For the event, the current property owners will be paying homage to a previous owner of their home by adorning their table with settings of blue, silver and crystal similar to those used for a 1936 post-Yule party.


About a block away, or so, is 2117 First Street. This Queen Anne cottage was built for John Edward O’Neill in preparation for his marriage to Harriet Neilsen in 1893. While modest is size, it retains much of its original details and features including redwood woodwork, dark amber relief tiles and brass surround on the walnut coal burning fireplace. The current owners love the holidays and decorate the home until its brimming over with special collections of Christmas decor.


The final two 2023 Holiday Candlelight Tour sites are at 1755 First Street, east of Jefferson. And located on the southeast corner of First and Jefferson Streets is the Blackbird Inn. It served as a private residence from 1902-1970s before becoming an office. About 20 years ago, Scott Warren began the arduous process of refurbishing the Craftsman residence into an eight-room inn. He spent countless hours handcrafting every detail. Completed in 2000, the final results was (and is) an ambiance synonymous with Craftsman – rich and warm details that flow naturally, effortlessly, throughout the building. Warren’s exceptional work and stewardship garnered him a Napa County Landmarks Award of Merit in 2001.


Adjoining the Inn to its south is the Finch Guest House – a Queen Anne cottage. Once again, Warren meticulously transformed the small residence damaged by the 2014 Napa earthquake into four guest rooms. While elegantly appointed, a bit of humor was subtly incorporated into a Finch Guest House artglass window. It is the Star Trek Next Generation’s U.S.S. Enterprise spaceship. Surrounding the guest house is a beautiful year-round garden designed by Warren. Although completed and ready to open for business in early 2020, the pandemic delayed its grand opening. However, when it was finally opened, it was part of the twelve-room Blackbird Inn & Finch Guest House boutique hotel.


Regarding the upcoming event, one of the property owners, Jonathan Franz, said, “The Holiday Candlelight Tour allows us to step back in time as we tour through these primarily private homes to give us a sense of connection to Napa’s history and heritage.” He added, “After 32 years, the Holiday Candlelight Tour is a festive Yule time tradition.”


Holiday Candlelight Tour Tickets $35 Landmarks members

$40 for non-members

$45 day of the event


To purchase tickets napacountylandmarks.org/events/holiday-candlelight-tour

For more info: Napa County Landmarks 707-255-1836 or visit napacountylandmarks.org

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