National Register of Historic Places in Napa County

National Register #87000341: Aetna Springs Resort, California 6 June 2004
National Register #87000341: Winship Building at Aetna Springs Resort, California Winship Building
Built in 1893
Remodeled c1930 by Farr and Ward
Photographed 7 December 2015

(Click Photos To Zoom)

National Register #87000341
Aetna Springs Historic District
1600 Aetna Springs Road
Pope Valley
Built 1877-1935

Along with Napa Soda Springs, Calistoga Hot Springs and White Sulphur Springs, which were developed in the 1850s and 1860s, Aetna Springs was one of California's most popular mineral springs resorts. It operated continuously from 1877 to 1972. Aetna Mineral Water, first bottled in 1886, was sold throughout the American West.

The complex is largely intact with few alterations since the early 1930s. A number of the buildings are distinguished examples of the First Bay Tradition architectural style.

The core of the Aetna Springs Historic District consists of thirty-two buildings and a number of related landscape features such as a monumental stone boulder and wood entrance gate, extensive stone walls, two stone bridges over a creek, a wooden pergola, a swimming pool and a golf course. Most of the structures date from the period between 1877 and 1935.

The golf course, originally a nine-hole course with sand greens, may have been laid out in the early 1890s. If so, it competes with the course at Monterey's Hotel Del Monte of 1895 for designation as the state's oldest golf course.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination form.

Ronald Reagan declared his candidacy for governor of California on the steps of the dining hall in 1966.

In the 1970s, the resort was sold to a company affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and later to a Southern California developer who tried to get approval for an expansion of the resort, but failed. In Napa County, voter approval is required to convert a property in an agricultural zone to commercial use.

In 2012, the Napa County Planning Commission approved a use permit to restore twenty-eight historic buildings, relocate other buildings, build a new lodge and restore historical structures such as bridges. The developer's goal was to open a resort accommodating one hundred overnight guests on weekdays and two hundred guests on weekends (Napa Valley Register, 19 April 2014).

When we last visited Pope Valley in December 2015, the golf course and clubhouse were open to the public, but renovation of the resort appeared far from complete.

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