National Register of Historic Places in Napa County

National Register #83001211: Sam Brannan Cottage in Calistoga, California 22 April 2009
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National Register #83001211
Sam Brannan Cottage
109 Wapoo Avenue
Built 1860

On 4 February 1846, Samuel Brannan, aged twenty-seven, sailed out of New York Harbor with a group of Latter Day Saints bound for Mexican Alta California on the ship Brooklyn. These pilgrims were seeking refuge far from the United States of American where Christians had persecuted Joseph Smith's new religion from the day that the angel Moroni had revealed it to him.

When the Brooklyn sailed into Yerba Buena Cove on 31 July 1846, the pilgrims were horrified to see the hated flag of the United States flying in Portsmouth Plaza where it had replaced the Mexican Flag just three weeks earlier. Four years later California joined the Union rather than the Mormon theocracy of Deseret.

Brannan, himself thrived as a merchant who "mined the miners." Between 1859 and 1863, he purchased more than two thousand acres in northern Napa Valley, rich in hot mineral springs and mud, where he planned to build a western version of Saratoga Springs, New York.

The legend, probably apocryphal, is than Brannan was giving a speech while in his cups and mashed-up "California's Saratoga" into the word "Calistoga." The name stuck and Calistoga Hot Springs opened in 1862 with a hundred landscaped acres containing a hotel, twenty-five cottages, bathhouses and a race track.

Brannan's luck ran out when all of his Napa Valley property was auctioned off in 1875.

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