Home is the place to be for the holidays with the Napa County Landmarks annual Holiday Candlelight Tour, which will feature eight private homes that will open their doors to benefit the nonprofit on Saturday, Dec. 9.
This the 28th tour, and every year the organization selects a different neighborhood or theme, according to Ernie Schlobohm, Napa County Landmarks board president.
“We try to use different neighborhoods, as each has its own character and history of when it was developed. Most importantly each has its own set of gems,” Schlobohm said.
This year, the tour is a self-led, walkable tour of homes of varying architectural style and era located in the Riverside, Brown Street, Cross Street and Coombs Street neighborhoods of Napa. Guests will also discover holiday music, decorations and refreshments along the way.
These neighborhoods are part of one of downtown Napa’s most historic areas, the Napa Abajo district, which originated from a land grant from Nicolas Higuera to Joseph Thompson in 1853. This grant was adjacent to the original land grant made to Nathan Coombs in 1847, and together these grants were eventually incorporated as the City of Napa in 1872. In 1996, the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park Historic District, which consists of 23 blocks between Fuller Park and the Napa River, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Each neighborhood has its own history and importance,” Schlobohm said, “This year, it is an area of eclectic homes that at one time probably housed the workers in the river trade.” For a home to be considered for the tour, it must display historical or architectural significance. Visitors will be welcomed to the homes by the homeowners, as well as volunteer docents from Napa County Landmarks. The homes on the tour range from the late 1800s to 1928.
Unique to this annual tour is that the houses have never been used commercially, and have always been homes, organizers said. While some have suffered over the decades due to neglect, or disasters such as earthquakes, all have been eventually been cared for and, in some cases, painstakingly restored.
“We don’t feature commercial operations, where you would expect it to be truly fascinating,” Schlobohm said, “This allows regular Napa citizens who are very proud of their older home and want to show it. These people actually really love their homes. The owners are very proud of their homes and what they have done specifically to preserve some of the internal and external architectural elements.”
In addition to welcoming visitors into these historic homes, the tour is one of the major fundraisers for Napa County Landmarks, which is the nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architectural treasures throughout Napa County.
While this event has hosted hundreds of attendees many years in the past, Schlobohm explained that the popularity of the Candlelight Tour coincides with social attitude and social awareness of our historical treasures. “There is a resurgence of appreciation of historical homes as Napa is going through so many changes right now,” he said, “There is a groundswell of people that want to preserve the old heritage of Napa.”