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Napa County Historical Society Restores Services to Community, Public

Staff, Volunteers Revive Battered Building and Collection following August 24 Earthquake

The Napa County Historical Society (NCHS) has restored its ability to provide a full-range of services following the August 24th Napa earthquake, including research on people, businesses, locations, and structures. Research services are currently available by phone and Internet to private residents, businesses, architects, as well as city, state, and FEMA officials through the Goodman Library’s archives.

These core services have been unavailable since the earthquake due to the damage to the historic Goodman Library and the Historical Society offices. Thanks to the tireless work of a pool of hard-working volunteers, board, and staff, NCHS has been busy cleaning and organizing since regaining access to the building September 23rd. “The Historical Society is extremely fortunate that the recent retrofit worked, according to preliminary FEMA assessment, and that the Goodman Library will stand for many more years. We are pleased to inform you that the Collection is in relatively good shape and we are busy cataloguing and preserving our irreplaceable and precious history,” according to John Holt, President of the Board.

The organization is now ready to offer access to original blueprints by Luther Turton, C.L. Hunt, and others. We can make available historic photographs of many old homes and businesses, especially in downtown Napa and Napa Abajo. Some of the most useful materials for those seeking information on earthquake-damaged structures are the Napa County Historic Resources Inventories; historic maps; aerial photos of the county from the 1940s-1980s; general historic information about the county, our people and its history; and City/County directories from1871-present. Contact the Napa County Historical Society for assistance with any and all historic inquiries.

We have three fantastic events planned over the next months including a Foxy Fall Fashion Show, put on by Boho Lifestyle October 24th, our first-ever Ghost Tour on November 1, and a history-laden Dine & Donate event on December 3rd hosted by Napkins.

We will shortly announce a new offsite office with public access since the Goodman Library will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we have been busy assembling our files on the earthquake. Stay tuned for an announcement about a soon-to-be-launched oral history project to collect and preserve personal stories about the 2014 Quake. Contact us if you are interested in assisting us with this project by taking the oral histories. We will train all volunteers in contemporary techniques.

Thanks to our donors from Napa and beyond for the enormous supportive response and generous donations. All donations are being spent on resuscitating our collection and getting our offices functioning again. The History Center and Napa County Historical Society also inaugurate a new era of offering our programs and initiatives without our former partner Napa County Landmarks. NCL moved out of the Goodman permanently in September and is developing separate programs and their own fundraising efforts. All donations for NCHS will be used for the repair and care of the NCHS Collection and the Goodman Library and should be sent directly to us at our new address PO Box 10527 Napa, CA  94581 or via PayPal through this website.

We are pleased to announce the publication of 3 new books in the last month on Napa’s history: Napa State Hospital, an Arcadia Press publication in their Images of America series, The Vintner’s Daughter, a novel that takes place in the Victorian era in Napa’s Carneros, the Loire Valley, and New York City, and Frankie’s Journey, the Silk Road to Napa, a novel tracing the roots of Napa’s sericulture.

Update 9/26/2014

Dear Friends of the Napa County Historical Society:

Excellent news! The Goodman Library was issued a green tag, and we are already in the building dumping debris, cleaning, and sorting. Collection reorganization begins next week when our team of experienced professionals and volunteers will come in to help us segregate damaged materials and begin the task of putting our Library back together again.

We are still unable to hold programs or events here or make the collection available to the public, and this will be the new “normal” for the foreseeable future. Staff and volunteers will be able to help us with the work. We are exploring off-site office and storage space for the Collection and have some good prospects. Our computer system was badly damaged in the quake, and it might be another week until we can access our digital files; until then our email and online system is working slowly and intermittently, so please be patient with our failure to return phone calls and answer emails. Due to the damage to both post offices in town, our mail has gone badly awry. We finally received mail yesterday dating back to the September 5th. Please know that we will thank you all and keep a record of all the generous donations pouring in, but we may not have received your donation yet.

In the meantime, we have booked venues for our three upcoming book launches and invite you to attend, buy books and help us keep history and the Goodman alive in Napa!


Alex, Desiree, and Nancy

Your NCHS Staff

Update 9/11/2014

Dear Friends of Napa County Historical Society:

I am writing to update you on the status of the Goodman Library as a few new developments have surfaced this week. I learned from the City of Napa that the second needed engineer’s assessment was completed and the city awaits the written report. When it is received, they can issue the less restricted yellow tag which will permit limited access to the building. At that time our staff will be able enter the building and work on cleaning debris and re-organizing our collection. I also learned from a team of engineers from FEMA that the federal government is very interested in the disposition of the Goodman and its fate because federal dollars were deployed in the retrofit. If Napa is declared a federal emergency, up to 75% of any repairs needed could be provided by federal funding.

The Goodman will probably remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. We had a very ambitious schedule of events lined up for this Fall and I am busy trying to find alternative locations to hold our book launches and other functions.

On behalf of the board of directors and staff, thank-you so much for the moral and financial support and offers of help. We are working feverishly to gain access to the building and to get our library ready to welcome the public again.

In the meantime, keep those emails, donations, and offers of help coming.

With sincere regards,

Nancy Levenberg
Executive Director
Napa County Historical Society

Update 8/29/2014

Dear Friends of Napa County Historical Society:

I am writing to update you on the status of the Goodman Library and respond to the avalanche of inquiries we received concerning its status. The beloved Goodman Library, though it withstood the 1906 earthquake and every quake since, has been red tagged by the City. The building is closed and the Society’s irreplaceable collection and our offices are off limits to staff and visitors while we try to patiently await the engineers’ assessment of the building’s safety and structural integrity. The City assures me this will happen soon. We can only imagine historic books, albums, photos, manuscripts, maps, and blueprints tangled and dusty in bent and broken piles all over the floor of the Goodman. The good news is that the building was earthquake retrofitted; the 3-year process was carried out between 2005 and 2008. Gas, electricity, and phones all appear to be in good working order. The roof, viewable on a droid flyover in the video below, also seems to be in very good shape.

I will send out future updates, so please keep checking our Facebook and website for information, and keep those offers and donations to the Napa County Historical Society coming in!

Napa County Landmarks is previously scheduled to move their offices out of the Goodman this week and is relocating elsewhere. We wish them a smooth transition to their new offices.

Sincerely yours,

Nancy Levenberg
Executive Director
Napa County Historical Society


Update 8/28/2014

Dear Friends of the Napa County Historical Society:

As we await the city’s assessment of the future of our beloved Goodman Library, I wanted to reach out to thank-you all most sincerely for the outpouring of emails and phone calls expressing support and offering to help- both with working hands and also with offers of money- to fund restoration work. Thanks also to our many colleagues in history and preservation throughout the valley and beyond who have called and emailed offering assistance and support, including Jim Kern from the Vallejo Maritime Museum, Kristie Sheppard at the Napa Valley Museum, Kathy Bazzoli from the Sharpsteen Museum, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Community Foundation of the Napa Valley, and on and on the list goes. These offers have heartened staff considerably and are greatly appreciated. As I have said repeatedly, Napa is truly a unique community filled with so many people committed to helping out, pitching in, and able to make THE difference!

On behalf of the board of directors and staff, I want you all to know that we will do whatever it takes to preserve the Historical Society’s irreplaceable collection and re-open for business as soon as it is humanly possible.

In the meantime, keep those emails, donations, and offers of help coming…it is definitely going to take hard work and commitment to our mission to reopen. In the interim we have set up an office off-site and can manage business, to a limited extent. I will send out future updates, please keep checking our Facebook and website pages for information, and keep those offers and donations coming in!

With sincere regards,

Nancy Levenberg

Executive Director


Update 8/27/2014

As many of you may know, Napa was hit with a 6.0 earthquake early Sunday morning, August 24. The damage spread across Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties, and caused numerous injuries and widespread damage. The Goodman Library and Research Library are closed for the foreseeable future. Like many historic buildings in Downtown Napa, the Goodman Library suffered extensive damage. It will take quite some time to get the Society and the Research Library up and running. We apologize for any inconvenience this closure may incur, but hope you’ll keep us in your thoughts as we move forward.

We have been overwhelmed by the many generous offers of help, including many offers of money. Since the post office is in disarray, too, the best way to send donations at this time is online through PayPal. Click the “Donate” button below to get started.


If you submit a research request, please keep in mind that it may be several weeks before we are able to begin processing new requests.

If you have a pending research request or are scheduled for an upcoming event with NCHS, we will be in touch with you in the next week or so, or you may email us to discuss your situation.

Earthquake Gallery