Over the weekend my husband and I made some time for Napa’s 2010 Holiday Candlelight Tour. This year the tour showcased some beautiful mid-century homes in Napa’s Monticello Park area. Here’s some information about the area borrowed from the tour brochure:
“… The population explosion led to a post-war building boom, and the area in and around the City of Napa saw the construction of seventy-one subdivisions between 1946 and 1951. Though Monticello Park was part of this post-war expansion, these houses were much larger and more substantial than the nearly identical tract houses intended for working-class families. After its subdivision in 1950, the houses in Monticello Park were developed individually over the next 15 years. The ranch-style architecture that dominated the neighborhood was inspired by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, and popularized in the California Bay Area by famous builder Joseph Eichler. The rambling one-story homes of the Monticello Park area epitomized the rise of the suburbia in post-WW2 America. Wide streets accommodated the large cars of the era and huge lawns were perfect for families at play. Design features developed in California, such as large expanses of windows oriented to the back yard, were associated with the desire to bring the outdoors inside, and gave rise to the term “California Modern.” The size, quality, and innovative features found throughout the neighborhood quickly made Monticello Park a desirable neighborhood for Napa’s professionals and business leaders, especially those with growing families.“
As locals, we really enjoyed the tour because it gave us the opportunity to learn more about our home town. Small details like finding out what kind of locally quarried stones were used on home exteriors and interiors helped us familiarize ourselves with aspects of Napa’s architectural history that we didn’t know anything about. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful, which we really appreciated.
The tour organizers must have gotten a few ideas from the Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour because they also had vintage cars parked outside each of the homes on the tour. This was a great idea that made it much easier for us to spot all the houses on the tour. The only disappointing aspect about the tour was the home interiors. Only one of the homes on the tour (an incredible and extremely unusual modern house designed by Grant Perkins in 1965) contained period furnishings and interior details that I really appreciated. The rest were more conservatively furnished. But many of the homes still maintained original features such as floors, etc. In a way this helped us focus more on the houses themselves instead of getting distracted by lots of designer eye-candy. We also didn’t have the opportunity to really meet or chat with anyone besides the generous tour guides because we were trying to hurry a little so we could see the homes before it got too dark.
Overall we were just really happy that we got to see some more mid-century homes in Napa and learn about the history of the area. In conjunction with the Holiday Candlelight Tour, the Napa County Historical Society and Napa County Landmarks have organized an exhibit called “From Battleships to Apron Strings: How WW2 created Napa’s Swingin’ Fifties” on display downtown at the Goodman Library; 1219 First Street Napa, CA 94559 starting Dec. 14 and ending Feb 28, 2011.
I’m really excited about the exhibit and I hope it will give me the opportunity to learn more about my own neighborhood, which blossomed in the ’50s. I’ve been trying to find more information about my home such as the builders name, house plans, etc. but the city hasn’t been able to offer me much help. After I visit the exhibit I’ll be sure to report back with my findings.
– My Flickr Gallery with more images from Napa’s 2010 Holiday Candlelight Tour
– Local newspaper article about the event: Holiday Candlelight Tour visits Napa’s mid-century modern neighborhood