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Historic Goodman Library

The Historic Goodman Library is the winner of a 2018 Preservation Design Award. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. In making their decision, the jury stated: “This is an impressive building and project. They did a good job of repairing earthquake damage to an unreinforced stone building.”

The Award will be presented on Friday, October 19, 2018 at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets and sponsorship options are available at

About this project

The Goodman Library was paid for and built in 1901 on land donated by George E. Goodman to the City of Napa.  The Goodman family was one of the original well to do families in Napa; there are two mansions in downtown Napa that also bear the name of the Goodman family.  George Goodman hired a well known local architect to design and over see the construction of the Goodman Library as well as the two Queen Anne Victorian style mansions.  The Goodman Library was designed in the Richardson Romanesque style using rusticated stone with round arch windows.  This design was a shift from the predominantly Victorian style architecture that was being built at the time in Napa.

A Brief History of the Goodman’s as it relates to the Goodman Library:

The name Goodman has been associated with Napa from its earliest years.  George E. Goodman came to Napa City in September 1855 at the age of 32.  George and his brother James purchased the land, where the Goodman Library was eventually built on May 29th, 1877 for $1,500 Gold Coin.  George and Carrie (his wife) gave the land and building to the City of Napa “to have and to hold . . . to be forever used and devoted to the use of a Free Public Library.”  The library was formally opened on May 6, 1902 and is believed to be the longest continually operating library in California.

The architectural significance of the Goodman Library is three-fold: 1) Its architectural style; 2) Its architect; 3) Its integrity and virtual completeness as originally designed and constructed.

  1. The Goodman displays the best characteristics of Richardson Romanesque with round arched windows, rusticated stone facing, weight and massiveness that is reinforced by the depth of the window and door openings, and general scale and simplicity in form. The earliest neo-classical Beaux Arts elements to be seen in Napa a small rural community in California in 1901.
  2. The architect, a very significant man locally, was Luther M. Turton who practiced from 1887-1920 in Napa. Turton did many of the fine Victorian-Queen Anne Style homes in the Napa Vicinity.
  3. The existing completeness of the original building right down to the original door hardware. Both the interior and exterior are complete; the only major intrusion are the new lighting fixtures on the interior and the seismic upgrades to protect the buildings occupants. This work is minor compared to what remains – fine pressed tin ceilings, the original stairway, the original woodwork, and the original librarians desk to name a few areas, giving both the interior and exterior the same special qualities and emotional effects today that were sought after in the original design.

The Historic Goodman Library, which has been home to the Napa County Historical Society and Napa County Landmarks, was damaged during the 2014 earthquake. The earthquake damaged the stone exterior, the entry tower, columns and capitals, the existing walls, and the arch stones over existing openings. Napa Public Works engineers and the local historic preservation design team worked with OES, FEMA and SHPO to determine the best course of action to repair and restore the property. Using preservation briefs, and assessment reports and drawings, a repair, reconstruction and restoration approach was approved. Detailed exterior and interior construction drawings were prepared to illustrate missing or damaged stone, minor to severe cracks, stone displacement, interior damage to plaster finish and the decorative metal ceiling. Other finish items such as stained wood doors and windows, trim and molding including the built-in wood Librarian’s desk, malfunctioning utilities were all addressed during the design and construction process.

Structural repairs and reconstruction included the stone tower and walls, wood trusses with upgrades to existing seismic improvements at the tower, the roof structure and the stone parapet walls.  Our assessment also concluded based upon the amount of interior plaster damage that the interior side of the stone walls would reflect the damage seen on the exterior.  We documented all those hidden conditions and found our assumed assessment to be true when the finishes were removed during construction.  Knowing that would be the case, a flowable low cement lime enriched mortar mix to inject into the walls through ports was specified to heal together the inner and outer wythes of the stone wall.  It took the stone masons a few weeks injecting the flowable mix to fill all the voids, the masons estimated they injected more than 10 yards of material that they mixed in 5 gallon pails.

Before we could start the construction, the structural engineer and project architect worked with a stone craftsman with significant historic preservation experience on the concept to build a steel containment structure to hold and contain the damaged stone tower.  As we observed the continuing shift of the structure we knew it would only be a matter of time before the tower would collapse further.  A temporary steel containment structure was constructed based upon initial measurements and subsequent measurements using laser scan technology (the tower was too damaged to get close to for field measuring).  The steel containment structure was fabricated and craned into place leaving space to edge foam blocks in between the steel walls and the remaining stone.  During the installation process it was discovered when trying to set the containment structure that the tower had shifted further than expected.  We lowered the containment structure and made field changes in the middle of First Street (which took about an hour) and then re-lifted the steel containment structure into place.  If the tower had been left uncontained, it would have certainly collapsed further based upon the shifting that had occurred.  When the construction contract was let, the stone mason that disassembled the stone tower said many of the stones were loose and it was the sheer weight and gravity that held the stones in place until the containment structure was installed.

Photos © Justin Lopez, Justin Lopez Photography

About Napa Design Partners LLP

As architects in the Napa Valley, we have an interest in protecting and preserving our cherished historic properties, as well as crafting innovative buildings and environments.

We bring years of experience from a wide range of projects, which include:

  •   Commercial: Building Shells & Tenant improvements

  •   Hospitality: Hotels, Restaurants & Tasting Rooms

  •   Production: Wineries & Breweries

  •   Historic Preservation & Adaptive reuse

  •   Planning: Corporate

Find out more at

Project Team
Project Lead/Historic Preservation Consultant
Stephen Cuddy, AIA
Napa Design Partners

Jack LaRochelle, Public Works Director
City of Napa

Engineer Division
Ernie Cabral, Associate Civil Engineer
City of Napa

Construction Division
Kristen Hoy, Project Manager
City of Napa

Lead Engineer
Chris Jonas, SE
ZFA Structural Engineers

General Contractor
Bob Alten
Alten Construction

Caitlin Turner
Page & Turnbull

Stone Masonry – Reconstruction, Restoration & Repair
Robert Browne
Rainbow Restoration