With its classic Queen Anne-style tower rising 56 feet, the 124-year-old George E. Goodman, Jr. residence commands the attention of any passerby.
Prominently located on the southeast corner of Randolph and Oak streets in Old Town Napa, this property on the National Register of Historic Places is the epitome of Victorian elegance and aesthetics.
This 7,529-square- foot, three-story and nine-room residence with a full basement was built for newlyweds Florence Millard and George Edmond Goodman, Jr. who were married in February 1890. The intimate wedding ceremony, officiated by Reverend Richard Wylie of Napa’s Presbyterian church, was held at the Oak and Brown streets home of the groom’s parents, Carrie and George E. Goodman, Sr.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Goodman, Jr. residence was not a wedding gift. Local newspaper articles from August 1890 forward reported Goodman, Jr. financed the $10,000-plus needed to build the residence.
Described as being “one of Napa’s most successfully executed examples of late 19th century residential architecture” within its National Register nomination and subsequent National Parks Service evaluation, the Goodman, Jr. residence was originally designed to be thoroughly modern and trend-setting in its form and appointments.
It was designed by J. Marquis, a well-known San Francisco architect and built by a local contractor, J.L. Robinson. Numerous subcontractors assisted with its construction including Corlett and Sons. They crafted all of the woodwork at their Napa planing mill. Begun in August 1890, it took about 10 months to complete.
Following its completion, the Napa Weekly Register printed a detailed article about the home. The May 1891 article reported, “it will be seen that the dwelling is as much a model of convenience as of beauty ... In fact, as the owner (George, Jr.,) laughingly says, ‘It makes the perfect lazy man’s home.’”
Some of those conveniences were fire hoses discreetly located at each floor; electric start buttons, or switches, for the gas-electric combination lights (the original lighting fixtures are still in place); security system with alarms and special non-skeleton key locks, and indoor plumbing that was eventually connected to the city’s future sewer lines. The Register made a point of noting there was no outhouse located on the residence’s 3/4-acre parcel.
The kitchen had a gas range. Realtor Agi Smith, who is the listing agent for the house, which is currently on the market said, “The original kitchen with its cabinetry still exists within one of the first floor apartments. There are three antique stoves -- two in the basement and one in the kitchen of a downstairs unit.”
In the 1930s, the Goodman, Jr. residence was divided into seven units, three downstairs and two apartments each on the second and third floors. One of the first floor units was created by enclosing most of the front porch. When originally built, the 1891 Register described the porch as “a welcoming and cozy verandah.”
The exterior embodies the Queen Anne architectural style principles of an asymmetrical form, textured wall surfaces, multiple roof and wall planes and copious decorative details. In addition to dentil-work molding, wall shingling, sunburst motif gable-end embellishments and more. Part of the exterior wall surfaces of the bay windows are decorated with small stones. This unique treatment was duly noted by the Register.
One detail repeated throughout the building’s interior and exterior is a stylized gridwork pattern found at the front door and entrance, stairs [balustrades], panels framing the second floor tower window and more. The landscaping also features the original the palm trees and raised curbing adjacent to the lawn.
The interior is just as rich in detail as the exterior, including the Lincrusta wainscot, inlaid oak flooring, glazed faux marble majolica titling, copious molding, intricately detailed wood grill-work, numerous art, or stained, glass windows and more.
Regarding the art glass windows, the 1891 Register wrote about one particular window. In the dining room “is one of the prettiest designs imaginable in art window glass -- a pair of doves feeding their nestlings.”
The interior walls were finished with smooth plaster until Aug. 24, 2014. The 6.0 earthquake of that day damaged the plaster walls in the first floor apartments as well as the two-story tall walls of the grand main staircase. This area features a large second floor bay window with a seat at the mid-floor landing. Nestled between the first floor stair landing and vestibule wall is a gas-coal fireplace with an ornate tile surround and wood mantle. This area served as a waiting area for callers.
This was not the first time the Goodman, Jr. residence sustained quake damage. The powerful late March 1898 earthquake destroyed the massive chimney once located at the residence’s southern elevation. A Napa Daily Journal article detailed the resulting alterations. “George E. Goodman, Jr. is having a bay window built on the south side of the front parlor of his residence, in the center of which will be a gas grate for heating purposes. In the bedroom over the parlor a wide transom window is being put in.”
This residence served as the home of Florence and George and their only child, Marie, for about 12 years. Then on Aug. 3, 1903, the 35-year-old George passed away from tuberculosis.
Born in Napa, he was his parents’ youngest son. He had worked at his family’s Goodman Bank in Napa. However, he started at the bottom and earned his promotion to bank teller and clerk, equivalent to today’s manager position. He eventually became president of the bank’s board of directors. George Jr. was also active with the Native Sons of the Golden West as well as in local civic matters including the extension of Jefferson Street.
Within a relatively short time after his death, Florence and Marie left Napa for Florence’s hometown, San Francisco. Her siblings lived and her father, Harrison Millard, a well-known composer, lived in the city. As a side note, Florence was an accomplished singer and musician. With their departure, the Goodman, Jr. residence began its succession of owners.
Regarding this iconic Queen Anne, Smith said, “She needs a great deal of repair, but this grand dame has so much incredible detail and potential. I think it would be so cool to return her to her full glory as a single residence.”
In the first time in 40 years, the George E. Goodman, Jr., residence is for sale. The asking price is $1.45 million. For more information, contact Agi Smith of Pacific Union-Christie’s International Real Estate at (707) 363-9896.