This past Saturday, NCHS hosted the book launch for the debut book by Patricia Prestinary, Napa State Hospital. The event, relocated to Silo’s because of the earthquake damage to the Goodman Library, was a rousing success! Copies of the book are on sale through our website and in bookstores across the country.
Napa, because of its natural beauty and optimal conditions for “moral treatment,” was chosen as the second site for a California state hospital to ease overcrowding in the Stockton Asylum. When the fully self-sustaining Napa Asylum opened in 1875, it quickly filled to capacity and became home to many people suffering from mental illness, alcoholism, grief, and depression. In 1924, Napa Asylum was renamed Napa State Hospital to reflect changes in the medical model and treatments for psychiatric patients.
Covering the first 100 years of the hospital’s history, this unique book tells the story of the institution and the people employed there; at one time the state hospital was the largest employer in Napa. Known locally as Imola, this beautiful site became an iconic part of the community. “Author Patricia Prestinary was working as an Intern at the Napa County Historical Society when the publisher approached the Historical Society asking for assistance,” said Nancy Levenberg Executive Director. “Publisher Arcadia Press phoned me in September 2012, said they had identified Napa as a ‘hot market’, and hoped we would author a history of this important local landmark. I was flattered that Napa has a national reputation as a place where local people are very interested in their history,” said Levenberg. Prestinary is a librarian and archivist who used images for the book from the Napa County Historical Society, California State Library, Napa State Hospital, Bancroft Library, and the personal collections of former staff members, among others.