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Real Estate

Napa home selling for $1.2 million sits on a lot bought for $5 ... in 1887

If James B. Newman could see his house now.

Newman, a marble and granite contractor responsible for many of Napa’s early bridges, buildings and streets, was among Napa’s earliest English settlers.

After coming to Napa via San Francisco sometime after 1873, Newman moved into a Queen Anne-style home located 1105 Juarez St. in downtown Napa.

City parcel records indicate Newman bought the section of land in 1887 for the princely sum of $5. Today, the property is listed for sale for $1.245 million.

“It was time for the next chapter,” said Maureen Dolan.

Dolan and husband, Jon Huttinger, are the current owners of the home. Huttinger bought it for $76,000 in 1982.

“It was decrepit,” he recalled during a tour on Wednesday. At first, it was a rental but later Huttinger, and then Dolan, moved in.

After years of renovating almost every square inch of the house, including adding a new wing and a new, yet period-appropriate, front turret, the couple have decided to move on.

“There’s a lot of things we’ll miss” about the house and property, said Dolan during the tour.

As with many historical homes, the renovations weren’t all completed at once, the couple said.

“We’d get some money and then we’d do something,” said Dolan. “It was like Winchester north,” she joked, referring to the never-ending construction of San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House.

The work seems to have been worth it. Today, the home is 2,112 square feet and includes two bedrooms, an office space and two bathrooms. Period details include the original fireplace mantle, fir and oak wood floors, doors and hardware and rosettes above the doors. The couple believes that Newman is responsible for stone fence base around the home.

“It’s probably the prettiest house I’ll ever live in,” said Dolan.

That includes both the home and the backyard.

Huttinger was the area supervisor at Golden Gate Park until he retired in 1996. A master gardener, he also had his own landscaping business in Napa Valley. Dolan worked in the Golden Gate Park nursery for more than 15 years and later at Napa Valley College. 

The couple spent many years landscaping the backyard into a park-like refuge featuring many, many different plants, trees, flowers, a pond, bridge, artwork, fountain and decorative hedges.

“We had over 100 species in the garden to begin with,” said Dolan. “We tried to plant it so there’d be something colorful year-round.”

“We’d get lots of compliments,” said Huttinger.

To accommodate his hobbies and landscaping work, the large basement was remodeled so Huttinger could operate power tools and other equipment.

Located along the Napa River, at the corner of an orphan stub of Second Street, the home is both secluded yet in the middle of the busy Oxbow district and Expo neighborhood.

“For someone who wants to be in the center of the action, this is perfect,” said Dolan.

“It’s bittersweet” to leave, Dolan said. “We had a good run in this house, but we have a lot of fond memories we are taking with us.”

Dolan and Huttinger have already moved to a newer house, one built in the 1960s, and embarked on another remodel.

Listing agent Mark Lesti of Windermere Real Estate said he’s received strong interest from potential buyers.

In addition to admiring the home itself, “I hear ‘wow’ a lot,” when people see the garden and basement space, said Lesti.

“It started out as a house and it became a warm and loving home,” Dolan said.

“I hope the new owners will have that experience a well.”

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