Most people traveling to Napa think of wineries, restaurants, and resort hotels; but the Napa Valley area is home to several incredible historic landmarks worth visiting as well. Rich with history and culture, the area is ripe with attractions for history buffs and the inquisitive mind.
Located in St. Helena, Bale Mill is located in Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. The grist mill is one of only 2 water-driven mills that still remains intact west of the Mississippi. Established and built in 1846, the mill and nearby granary were built with local woods and once served as the social hub of activity in the Napa Valley area. The mill closed to the public in 2011 due to a lack of funding but has reopened on the weekends. Beginning in 2016, the mill will be allowed to sell flour as a means of fundraising for maintenance costs.
Also located in St. Helena, Elmshaven is also often referred to as the Robert Pratt Place or the Ellen White House. Ellen White lived in the house for 15 years, until her death. She is noted for her involvement in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church currently owns the home and operates it as a historic site.
Napa Valley Opera House
The Napa Valley Opera House opened in 1880 and currently operates as a theatre. Located in Napa, the theatre existed during the height of the vaudeville era. The landmark has since seen hundreds of variety acts, musical ventures, and exhibitions. Even Jack London read his works on the stage. The threatre closed in 1914 due to competition from movies and damage from the 1906 earthquake but was restored in 1985 as the Café Theatre. After several different changes of hand, the theater became the City Winery, still an entertainment venue, in April of 2014.
St. Helena High School
Yup, the high school. It was the first official high school in the area and for its first year it operated out of a local church. The following year classes moved to Turner Hall, where they stayed until 1912. A private donor offered land for a high school in 1910 and construction didn’t end until 1912. The building has received several additions throughout the years, including an auditorium. In 1967, the original building was deemed unsafe for earthquakes and the new 100 Wing was built. In 2003, the completion of the restoration and earthquake retrofit of the original building was completed and the entire campus is used by students.
History surrounds us, everywhere we go. Block some free time, book a room in the Napa Valley Hotel & Suites, and prepare to spend a weekend really exploring the area. You’ll be surprised and pleased by what you uncover.