Napa County real estate has always been a desirable commodity and prized possession, consistently drawing the attention and interest of prospective buyers from both near and far. This point is illustrated by articles printed within local newspapers of the first half of the 20th century.

This interest in Napa County real estate inspired politicians, business people and industrialists to launch some unique marketing and sales endeavors. For example, in 1902, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company partnered with the Napa County Chamber of Commerce to establish weekly train excursions to and of Napa Valley.

These special excursions were designed to showcase the area for the prospective buyer from outside of Napa County. Then, in 1949, the Napa County Real Estate Board and Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored a Napa Valley slogan contest. The winning slogan was to be a key part of a marketing campaign created to promote the desirability of the area to prospective buyers from outside of Napa County. As for the winning slogan, additional research will hopefully uncover it.

While those efforts were endorsed by the politicians of Napa Count, and beyond, those same local politicians also took steps to protect the local way and quality of life and living.

For instance, in 1946, the Napa City politicians voted in favor of the formation of the city of Napa Zoning Commission. For those who had already called Napa County home, the local politicians addressed the issue of affordable housing. In the late spring of 1949, the Napa County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a 15-month extension of the county’s rent control policy.

Fifteen years earlier, another governmental program had provided critical assistance to the local property owners. According to a mid-autumn 1934 Napa Daily Journal article, Napa County residents took full advantage of federal housing funds to maintain or modernize their homes.

Around this time, a housing development along Jefferson Street and south of Old Sonoma Road — the Devita subdivision — answered the need for adequate local housing. A July 1940 Journal article reported, “The Wayne McCormick Real Estate Agency, exclusive agents for the Devita tract, Napa’s largest subdivision, announced that construction has been started on four new special order homes in the Devita tract.”

Adjoining this news brief was a related classified advertisement. It said, “Devita Tract. Beautiful new, modern, five-room home. Approved FHA construction. Convenient floor plan. Price $4,800; $500 down. Balance, monthly, less than rent. Homes built to order.”

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As this decade approached its conclusion, the Journal printed an article on Jan. 17, 1947 summarizing the property values of Napa County. It said, “Assessed value of taxable property in Napa County for the current fiscal year averages $776 for each of the 42,700 people in the county. The total value of taxable property in the county for 1946-47 is $32,456,615.

“For 1945-46, the assessed value of taxable property in the county averaged $742 for each of the 42,700 people in the county. Total valuation was $31,692,685. The state ( of California 1946-47) averages were $966 and (for 1945-46) $926 per each 9,420,000 people in California.”

The desirability of Napa County real estate significantly influenced not only its development but also local living during the first half of the 20th century as it continues to do today.

Rebecca Yerger is a writer and historian living in Napa. Reach her at yergerenterprises@yahoo.com.

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