A building in front of the historic Courthouse on Brown Street drew the attention of passersby Thursday as an excavator tore down two walls, removed the roof and gutted the inside. By early afternoon, only the south and east walls of the single-story structure and a portion of the old storefront remained.
The Nunn building at 830 Brown St. was demolished after being vacant for more than a decade. A boarded front door had greeted the public walking in and out of the courthouse.
The new owner, Michael Holcomb, said he wants to build office or retail space.
Recently, it had been one of the “ugliest buildings in Napa,” said Holcomb, who purchased the property early in 2012. “It’s been an empty, ugly building for a long, long time.”
Holcomb, who works with his son, also named Michael, plans to rebuild a one-story building with a mezzanine. The plans will have to undergo the city’s design review.
“Our construction crew is ready to go,” said Holcomb, who also recently bought the commercial building at Main and First streets that recently leased to a Starbucks.
The Brown Street building’s south and east walls remain because both are reinforced concrete with rebar.
The demolished building had been one of the last unreinforced masonry structures in Napa. In 2011, the city ordered 10 owners in downtown Napa, including the Nunn family, to post warning signs alerting the public that the structure could crumble in an earthquake.
Napa County Assessor-Recorder John Tuteur said the exact age of the building is unclear. According to assessor records, the estimated construction date was around 1900, he said.
According to the county records, a northern wall on that property existed as early as Dec. 22, 1888, Tuteur said, adding that Anna and Howard Nunn bought the property in 1972.
The builidng was evaluated in the city’s 2011 specific plan and is not considered historic, said architect Juliana Inman, who is also a Napa council member.