Guide to the Luther Turton Architectural Drawings

Collection processed and description prepared by:

Cathy Salomon, Volunteer, Napa, CA, August 2014

Descriptive Summary

Collection Title
Luther Turton Architectural Drawings
Span Dates
Bulk Dates
Collection Number
Turton, Luther M.
305 sets of drawings, most containing multiple pages; 5 36” map drawers and 4 52” map drawers.
The collection consists of architectural drawings produced by Luther M. Turton, one of the best known Napa Valley architects. The collection contains drawings of homes, business and municipal buildings, schools, churches, hospitals, factories, warehouses, farm buildings and miscellaneous structures such as boats.
Collection partially digitized; undigitized material is accessible under supervision of a NCHS volunteer or staff member.

Administrative & Access Information

Napa County Historical Society
Goodman Library
1219 First Street
Napa, California 9455

Luther Turton Architectural Drawings, [Box/Series #, Folder #], Napa County Historical Society.
Acquisition Information
Donated by unknown, accessioned in 1978, processed in 2008.

Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research. Some folders in this collection may be restricted. See container list for more information.

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.Researchers are advised that violations of the copyright law may have legal ramifications for whichNapa County HistoricalSociety assumes no responsibility.

Collections may also contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for whichNapa County Historical Society assumes no responsibility.

Usage Restrictions
Appointments are not required for accessing collections, but are strongly encouraged so as to ascertain availability of materials.

Duplication of materials is on a case-by-case basis, and permission can only be given by the Research Librarian. Charges may apply.

The donor may have placed additional access/usage restrictions on this collection. The user is responsible for adhering to those restrictions; NCHS is not liable for any misuse.

Approval must be explicitly given by NCHS or copyright holder for publication.

Finding Aid prepared by
Cathy Salomon, editing by Nikelle Riggs

Biography / History

Biographical / Historical Note

Luther Mark Turton is one of the best known Napa Valley architects. Turton was born in North Bend, Nebraska, on May 22, 1862 to George J. and Harriet B. Turton. George, born about 1830, had immigrated from England in 1856 and married New York native Harriet a year later. The Turton family relocated to the Browns Valley area in 1876 when Luther was 14. He eventually graduated from Napa Collegiate Institute in 1882 with a Master’s Degree. After completing his formal education, he then moved to San Francisco and entered the office of McDougal & Son as an apprentice architect. By 1887 Turton had completed his apprenticeship and opened his own firm in Napa.

In his 1912 book History of Solano and Napa Counties, Thomas Gregory described Luther Turton as a man who “had a natural aptitude for [architecture] and the quality of his drawings soon attracted favorable attention. The first plan which he drew after coming to Napa was for a women’s dormitory for the Collegiate Institute, and from that time on, as long as he remained actively engaged in this work, he was connected with the building of most of the important structures in this locality. He was [the] architect for the Winship building, the Semorille [sic] building, the H. Schultz block, the Behlow block and the Miglavacca [sic] block, as well as many fine residences here. He also was the architect on a business block erected in San Francisco by Henry Brown of Napa, and drew plans for buildings in Coluso [sic], Yolo, and Solano counties, as well as for two bank buildings in Vallejo and the St. Helena union high school. He was superintendent of construction on the Bank of Napa building, the First National Bank building…and two grammar school buildings recently erected in Napa.” Turton also designed the Kahn-Voorhees House at 1910 First Street, the Noyes Mansion at 1750 First Street, the Noyes-York House at 1005 Jefferson Street, the Hackett House at 2109 First Street, the Migliavacca House 1475 Fourth Street, and his own home at 1767 Laurel Street. Among the other commercial buildings he designed are the Goodman Library (original public library, and home to Napa County Historical Society since 1965) and three mansions for the live-in doctors at Napa State Hospital.

His architectural personality “straddles the extravagant medievalism of the late nineteenth century and the quieter classicism of the early twentieth century,” wrote Dave Weinstein in his 2006 book Signature architects of the San Francisco Bay Area. Juliana Inman, whose cottage is featured on this year’s Holiday Candlelight Tour, said, “Turton uses shared space to make interiors seem more expansive. He will borrow space from a hallway, an entryway, or have parlors flow into each other so that they appear much more spacious and grand than they otherwise would seem.”

In 1893 he married Lillie A. Bell from Santa Rosa via Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and soon after had a daughter, Lois Belle. The Turtons were very active in the local community; they were members of the temperance movement, Knights of the Maccabees, Eagle Cycling Club, the Napa Grange, and the local Methodist-Episcopal Church, which he also designed. Much like his architectural designs, Turton was “[quiet] and unostentatious in manner, he nevertheless left a strong impress of his individuality upon all with whom he associated. He possessed the happy faculty of seeing the beautiful things of the world, and he enjoyed nature, loved flowers, appreciated noble traits in mankind and hand an optimistic outlook on life, so that to know him was to admire him” (Gregory, 1912). Turton passed away from natural causes on April 27, 1925.

Scope & Content

Scope & Contents Note
This collection consists of sets of architectural drawings produced by Luther Turton. The majority of buildings depicted are in the city and county of Napa but the collection also includes many in nearby counties, and some in other parts of California and other states. There are drawings in ink or pencil on thin paper; there are also blueprints, Van Dyke drawings and copier machine versions of original drawings. Most items are undated and are identified by the name of the residential client, business owner, or business name–with the actual address rarely provided. Some sets of drawings are incomplete and/or contain no identifying information. Although most of the drawings are in good condition, some are torn or stained and should be handled carefully.

Indexing Terms / Controlled Heading Access

Subject Headings

Architects — United States.

Architectural design.

Architecture — United States — 20th century.

Container List

Series 1: Buildings in Napa County

Series 2: Buildings outside Napa County

Series 3: Unidentified Buildings and other Miscellaneous Drawings

Series 4: Oversized, Unidentified, and Miscellaneous Items.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents