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Napa County Landmarks releases its list of 'threatened treasures'

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May is Historic Preservation Month, and John Sensenbaugh from Napa County Landmarks has provide the Register with the organization's annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County -- structures with historic value that are in need of saving.

Landmarks noted that this year the list is "10 threatened treasures plus one."

Here it is:

1. Aetna Springs Resort, Pope Valley -- The former spa and retreat  in rural Pope Valley keeps slipping into further decay, Landmarks reports. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1987, but has appeared on the Napa County Landmarks' list as threatened treasures more than 20 times. 

It originally was developed as a destination spa in 1887 when it was an eight-hour journey by horse drawn carriages from San Francisco. The grounds were developed with three distinct architectural styles, from 1877 to 1944.

Although there have been attempts to revive Aetna Springs as a modern destination resort, thus far no efforts have moved forward, Landmarks writes. "Fortunately, it was spared destruction during the 2017 wildfires that swept through that area."

2. 1938-1940 Brown St. – This structure appears to be a four-plex apartment house from the 1920s (or earlier), very likely one of the first apartment buildings constructed within the Napa city limits.

Landmarks notes that  Howard Yune reported in the Napa Valley Register on Aug. 30, 2017 that a fire had totally destroyed a rear structure of the building and partially damaged the remaining front building.

"According to Yune, Napa Code Enforcement had cited the property for trash and weeds, but the abatement order was ignored. A permit was issued in January, 2017, to do fire repair work."

"From street-side observation, no repair work was ever been started, and the building appears abandoned. Neighbors have complained of transients occupying the building as well as a rodent infestation problem," Landmarks writes. 

3. Thomas Earl House, 1221 Seminary St. – This is a 2,948 square foot home built in 1894.

Landmarks reports that in Dec, 2020 owner received permission to do a “panelization” of the house, to cut into large wall panels, which are stored on A-frame racks, then reassembled on a new foundation in a slightly different location from its original position. The owner also said his goal was to create a 10-room corporate retreat center.

Landmarks reports that owner's team decided it would be too risky to move the house to a new foundation due to the earthquake damage the house suffered in the 2014 quake.

"Unfortunately, since the house was sawed into various wall panels, no further work or new foundation forming has occurred," the Landmark's report reads. "The various walls are now covered with large tarps and, at least, partially protected from the weather, which was not the case earlier during the winter rainy season."

4. 2232 Oak St. – This 1,895 square foot home, built in 1925, has been on the list before. Known as the Daniel J. Thomas residence, it is of the Stick Eastlake construction style. It has one street-facing window that is completely devoid of glass and open to the elements. According to Landmarks, "Shrubbery and vegetation threaten to engulf the place."

5. Center Building, 810-814 Brown St. – Another structure that has been on the list many times, "it remains in a dilapidated state since the 2014 quake," Landmarks writes. "The building sits as an empty downtown eyesore and danger, sited directly across the street from Napa’s original and historic court house."

6. Rutherford Train Depot – Another perennial threatened treasures sit, it is owned by the Napa Valley Wine Train. "It is in agriculture-designated zone so there are limited commercial usages allowed without a permit. Any new commercial usage not allowable in ag zone requires a zoning change, and that can only be accomplished by a vote of the people as required by Measure J," according to Landmarks. "This could present a challenge for any proposed new usage, but Landmarks is confident that this treasure could be restored by a motivated new owner."

7. Franklin Post Office – The owner of this severely earthquake damaged post office has reportedly been trying to find an investor/partner to develop this Depression-era building into a downtown hotel, Landmarks reports. "There has been work done to stabilize the structure but it remains vulnerable to another to another earthquake."

8. Luther Turton houses at the Napa State Hospital – These homes were also severely damaged in the 2014 earthquake and are owned by the state of California. "It is unknown when or if the state will invest the money to make them usable," Landmarks writes. "They remain locked and off limits for any usage."

9. 1615 Nursery St. – This home, behind Drapinski T.V. store on Vallejo Street, is in dilapidated condition, although it appears that someone may be occupying it. Napa County tax records show that this home was built in 1897, which would make it one of the oldest homes still standing in this neighborhood.

10. 376 Franklin St. – This 2,948 square foot home was built in 1894. Several gigantic bamboo plants in front of the home obstruct a view of  exterior, but Landmarks states, "it is obvious from both the front and rear that the house has been neglected for a long time and needs much attention."

The home is in the redwood-lined section of Franklin Street that is home to many restored Victorians and other homes 100 to 150 years old.

11. 1332 B St. – This is an 842 square foot home built in 1936. This home is eligible to be listed as a contributor on the City of Napa's Historic Resource Inventory. "It too seems to need considerable maintenance and appears to be currently uninhabited," Landmarks states.  

Napa County Landmarks also noted that it "wants to remain vigilant of the many stone bridges that were constructed more than 100 years ago and are still to be found dotted throughout the county.

"They are often in the crosshairs of Cal Trans who view them as impediments to modern highway design," the Landmarks' announcement reads. "Sometimes they become subject to damage by motorists who crash into them, or vandalized by people who carve out the monument year-built stone that typically grace the center of a bridge’s span."

"Unfortunately, this has occurred on at least two of the remaining stone bridges along Stanley Lane in south Napa County."

Check out this Napa historic home for sale at 741 Seminary St. Built for William Andrews, an early Napa businessman, it was most recently owned by the "Jeep" Sanza family of Napa. It's listed for $2.1 million.

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