Our Napa inn has seen much Calistoga history roll by and through its doors in the 100 plus years it has been here.
Built in about 1912 by the Ingalls family, we are only the second family to own the property. Unique architectural features of the house, from pocket windows, to traces of devices to communicate from room to room, reveal the love of technology of the owner and designer, a renowned contributor at the Hercules Powder Company. What we look on now as quaint and storied was the latest in high-tech in its day.
The original lot incorporated the massive stone Mausoleum built by Sam Brannan, the founder of Calistoga. Take a look at that imposing and solid structure now and you will see a couple of areas of collapse. You might think these areas the simple outcome of age and the elements but not so! We are told that Mr. Ingalls, after acquiring the lot and building the house, was approached by Napa county to pay property taxes on the abandoned Mausoleum. Feeling this unreasonable, and bureaucratic discourse having failed, Mr. Ingalls took two sticks of dynamite (remember he worked for Hercules that made the stuff) and tried to blow up the building! Fortunately for us Sam Brannan’s stonework survived with only the damage we see today. Napa County no longer collect property taxes on the building as far as we are aware.
The original Mr. Ingalls brought up his family at the house and his daughter raised her family there as well. Marge, our indomitable mail lady, remembers attending dances on the upper floor of the house in the 60’s.
However, by the 1980’s the ownership of the house was split between a number of Ingalls grandchildren, none of whom wanted to live in the old house anymore but, nobody was ready to part with the Grandpa’s dream house just yet. The decision was made to convert the house to three apartments, one per floor, and to rent it out.
What followed was 30 years of occupancy by Calistoga families, singles and couples from everyday folks to characters that could be from the pages of pulp fiction. By the early 2000’s, after nearly 30 years of benign neglect, the house no longer felt like an inseparable part of the original owners family tradition and they were ready to move on.
Having bought the 1910 Craftsman style Wine Way Inn in 2003 we had admired the crumbling glory just down the road since our arrival. Nick was about ready to leave his old life in high-tech and the opportunity to purchase and refurbish the old Ingalls’s house seemed the perfect way to transition fully into the Calistoga life.
What followed was two long years, a lot more money than planned and what Nick now call’s the most expensive education I ever had. The result was this beautiful Lodging, the old lady of Calistoga, restored to her former glory, her treasures preserved with loving care where possible and enhanced with modern amenities to make a place where past meets present and hosts await your arrival to join the family of visitors to our historic Calistoga inn.
We look forward to welcoming you to the family.
Nick and Gillian Kite present their Luxury Napa Valley Bed and Breakfast, The Craftsman Inn.