Subscribe for 33¢ / day

If you attended Napa Union High in the 1930s, the sight of a three-foot wooden paddle in a new historical exhibit may make you shudder.

But touching the gold satin fabric and thick bronze buttons on a majorette outfit from the 1940s may remind you of the happiest times of your life.

And if you were a student in the 1950s and 1960s, a portrait of Sally McAbeer, dean of girls, may induce substantial guilt if you're wearing patent leather shoes and a skirt.

Such relics of the past are on display in the history room at the newly refurbished Education Center, the headquarters of Napa Valley Unified School District and home to the district's performing arts auditorium.

After a year of renovations and a seismic upgrade, the building opened to the public Saturday night during a gala event. The second-floor history room also had its debut.

The old principal's paddle hangs on one wall, well worn and engraved with more than a dozen names, a reminder of the days when corporal punishment was legal.

Patent leather shoes sit beneath a photo of McAbeer, in good fun mocking the girls' dean who forbade such shiny shoes for fear that boys could peek up the girls' skirts.

The history room is a replica of an original classroom, with the same chalkboards and imitations of the original light fixtures.

There are desks from the 1920s and 1940s, and an original seat from the auditorium. A championship blanket, in blue and gold, and a letter sweater are also on display.

Photos from many decades — including shots of Chic's Burgers across the street and Wright's Spot downtown — "Napanee" yearbooks, programs from musical events and newspaper clippings round out the display.

A student waxed eloquent about the new building in a 1923 yearbook editorial that's in the show: "Just as the new structure is another achievement, another step toward higher civilization, our successful lives will advance civilization and will better conditions in the world."

Don Evans, class of 1961 and the administrator of general services and facilities in NVUSD, oversaw development of the history room, along with Noreen Hanna, class of 1957.

Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

There's much in the room to teach about the history of the building, which was Napa's only high school until the 1970s. That's when the district expanded the current Napa High School campus and constructed Vintage High School.

Built in 1922, using a general obligation bond, it replaced two previous high school buildings, one of which was located off of Jefferson Street where the Safeway now sits. In 1937, a fire destroyed part of the building, including the auditorium.

By the 1970s, the school's 3,000 students had outgrown the building. Following the construction of Napa and Vintage high schools, the superintendent's office moved in. The 2000 earthquake caused extensive damage, but much of it was repaired soon after.

The past year's renovation's — using $12 million in bond money from Measure M — included a complete overhaul of the building, making it handicapped accessible and earthquake safe. An additional 40 seats have been added to make room for 680 people in the auditorium.

The history room will be open to the public during normal business hours and special events. The building is at 2425 Jefferson St.


Load comments