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Stories by author "John Thill": 19

“People did not ask, ‘Where are you going this summer?’ It was White Sulphur Springs or nowhere.” Once Northern California’s premier resort, White Sulphur Springs was where San Francisco’s elite went to relax and escape the City’s…

In its heyday the resort at Aetna Springs was called an “Edenic Mecca,” a little slice of heaven on earth where the sick were healed and generations of Northern Californian’s came to while away long summer days in beautiful landscape.  The…

Spared from fire and redevelopment, the 1888 Winship Building now stands as one of the finest remaining examples of Victorian commercial architecture in Napa County. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Edward H.…

The Uptown Theatre opened in an era of glimmering movie houses and served as one of Napa’s premier venues for the silver screen. It hosted lavish Hollywood style premiers, but by the 1980s it had the unfortunate reputation of being one of Napa’s…

The 1888 Semorile Building has long been considered one of Napa’s finest examples of Victorian era commercial architecture as well as being one of the most notable structures designed by famed Napa architect Luther Turton. While the building has…

Downtown Napa’s oldest commercial building, locally known as the Sam Kee Laundry, has long been a site into which immigrants have pitched their dream of a better life. Built by the German immigrant Phillip Pfieffer in 1875 from hand-cut local…

The Franklin Postal Station on the corner of Second and Randolph St. was built in an Art Deco style known as WPA Moderne. The architectural style was named for the Works Progress Administration, the agency created by the Franklin D. Roosevelt…

For the Plaza Hotel it is safe to say, it has seen the best of times and the worst of times. It went from being one of the jewels of Napa's social scene to a condemned low-rent residential hotel only to be returned to splendor by a $1.5 million…

In June 2002 the Napa Opera House re-opened to great fanfare with a performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. In the Opera House’s return to grandeur and cultural life in Napa, the press focused much on the illustrious past of the…

While not Napa’s first newspaper, the Napa Register is without a doubt Napa’s longest running and most influential daily. The building at 1202 First St. is today the site of law offices and a restaurant, but for most of the 20th century it…

The regal Napa County Courthouse Building has a lengthy and storied history. It has been the venue for the trials of film pioneers and corrupt sheriffs and helped to popularize the insanity defense. Most notably, it was the site of California’s…

For many years the Gordon Building satisfied Napa’s sweet tooth. The real story of the Gordon, however, is that of how three real estate moguls left their impact on downtown Napa. The Gordon Building sits on the old site of the Hayes Theatre. …

The Goodman Library is one of the oldest continually occupied library buildings in California. Built between 1901 and 1902 through a generous donation of land and money by local bank magnate George E. Goodman, the library offered a permanent…

Once at the center of Napa’s banking district, visitors can now dine inside the vault of what was once the First National Bank. Chartered in 1904, First National Bank set up shop at the corner of First and Brown Streets, a corner which has…

The building locally known as Fagiani’s was the site of one of Napa’s grizzliest murders and longest running mysteries. It stood shuttered, lost in time for more than thirty years until reopening in 2012. While the rest of Napa’s Main Street…

In one form or another, a bank has been located at the northwest corner of Main and Second for over 140 years. The building that is today Wells Fargo Bank has been firmly at the center of Napa’s financial life for nearly as long as the City of…

The landmark First Presbyterian Church which sits at the corner of Third and Randolph Streets in Downtown Napa has a storied history.  Since its construction in 1874 it has stood as a truly unique example of Victorian Gothic Architecture, notable…

The Oberon building is a survivor.  Throughout its history it has been burned, targeted by prohibitionists, and slated for demolition on multiple occasions. A bar has occupied the site of the Oberon building for more than a hundred years.  Today…

The Hatt Building and the Napa Mill Complex, constructed between 1884 and 1887, are Napa’s oldest large brick industrial buildings and have long been considered among the most haunted places in all of Napa County. Captain Alfred E.  Hatt was born…

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