When city planners pondered how small or large the face of Stone Brewing should loom in front of downtown Napa, their final answer landed in between.
Nine feet, from square chin to pointy horns, will be the height of the Stone gargoyle’s visage, the centerpiece for a set of signs that will soon adorn the craft-beer maker’s brewery and restaurant that opened last year inside the Borreo Building.
The Planning Commission, after disagreeing last month on the proper size for the brewer’s black-steel labeling on the stone-block 1870s landmark, approved the signage Thursday for two sides of the building at Soscol Avenue and Third Street.
Planners unanimously supported the labeling after reaching a compromise on the most prominent element: the gargoyle head that will be mounted high on the Borreo’s west wall in full view of the Napa River and the city core on the opposite bank.
Accompanying the logo will be the brewer’s name in laser-cut steel, with yard-high letters spelling out “STONE” at the north end of the building’s west-facing side, at the opposite end from the gargoyle. The Stone name also will be lettered on the wall facing south toward the approach to the Third Street bridge.
In February, city planning staff had recommended downsizing the gargoyle head from about 10 feet to 4 feet and the letter height to 24 inches, partly to comply with sign-coverage limits – since liberalized in December – that were in place when Stone applied for its permits. However, commissioners leaned toward allowing a larger display because of the distance between the Borreo and downtown passers-by, and instead gave designers more time to refine the plan.
“You have to look at the distance, at the viewpoint. Make it too small and they don’t exist, because you can’t see them,” Commissioner Michael Murray said at the time.
Adding the lettering – along with LED backlighting for nighttime use – will provide the final missing ingredient to a historic Italian Renaissance-style structure that had been vacant since 2001 until Escondido-based Stone opened its Napa gastropub in May 2018, according to Paul Kelley, one of four commissioners to endorse the sign package (Gordon Huether was absent).
“This is such a challenge because other types of signage and illumination would not have worked at such a monumental location,” he said of the lettering. “This signage makes it look finished, and I can’t wait to see it at night.”
Even at its larger size, the Stone gargoyle will display the Borreo’s underlying masonry because of its skeletal design, according to plans filed with the city.
Stone Brewing’s beer-and-food emporium is the latest iteration of the Borreo Building, which opened in 1877. Over the generations it housed businesses as diverse as a feed store, shirt factory, winery and an Oldsmobile showroom before going dark early in the millennium.
The remaking of the landmark for craft-beer duty led to exterior changes for its new mission, most notably the cutting of windows on both floors of the west wall – originally concealed by neighboring buildings long since razed – to provide a view of the river and the city center.