Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Old Postcard Wednesday--Grandview Community Inc., Healdsburg, California

[Note: I included updated information about this property at the end of this post.]

This is one of the few in my grandmother's box of old postcards that has absolutely nothing to describe it on the back of the postcard.

When I saw it I thought this beautiful structure looked like the perfect place for a Thanksgiving dinner with family, friends, and acquaintances who would otherwise be alone at Thanksgiving.

Googling Grandview Community Inc. led me to communities with that name in eight other states and one in southern California, and a really cool website called Think Urban from Grandview Heights, Ohio. But I came to a dead-end regarding a search for anything related to a Grandview Community in Healdsburg, California, a lovely-sounding and -appearing place in the wine country there.

Deciding that if the building was still standing there might be an off-chance that it became a bed and breakfast, I looked at websites for Bed & Breakfasts in Healdsburg, and, going through a list in order on the page (eliminating one that was obviously new architecture) I determined the building on the postcard did not become:

The Camelia Inn
The Grapeleaf Inn
The Calderwood Inn
The Raford Inn
The Honor Mansion
The Haydon Street Inn

But it certainly DID become........Madrona Manor! It was just thrilling when the home page opened and the first thing I saw (in the top left corner) was a black-and-white drawing of the building, unmistakably the same as in this old postcard. The website shows gorgeous color photos of the outside architecture, inside various rooms of the B&B, and of the grounds. This tempting online tour convinces me that it deserves the accolades it boasts:
Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant

"Rated No. 1 in Napa/Sonoma"
"Top 100 Hotels in Continental US and Canada; Top 100 Worldwide" 2008 Travel + Leisure

"One Star Michelin" 2009 Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay area & Wine Country Restaurants
"ZAGAT Top Spot" 2009 ZAGAT San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants

I sure pegged this spot as a wonderful place for Thanksgiving dinner. Click here for the Madrona Manor restaurant's holiday dinners information, including a link for this year's Thanksgiving feast menu.

Now back to the mystery of Grandview Community Inc. and the dearth of information about it. The Madrona Manor website has a section on its history, including a color old postcard of the Manor and the following information:

Blitz [son of John Paxton who built the home] took over the family home as well as the presidency of the Bank of Santa Rosa following his father's death. Madrona Knoll Rancho was retained by Blitz and was used as a weekend retreat until he sold it circa 1913.

The property remained a private residence until 1981 when it was purchased and renovated into its new incarnation as a world-class country inn and restaurant.

In April of 1987 the Madrona Manor was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.

Thus, somewhere between 1913 and when my grandmother died in 1960 leaving behind the postcard in a box, the home was in private ownership by someone(s) who established a Grandview Community Inc. When did this occur and for what purpose? I can't answer that.

Sites featuring Healdsburg's History and an historical overview of Healdsburg are chock-full of truly fascinating history - none of it, however, mentioning a Grandview Community. This leads me to think it must have been of a single-purpose and possibly short-lived nature.

Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society's website has a photo exhibit of 215 old buildings and homes and I enjoyed a trip back in time looking at each. But the mystery of Grandview Community is not solved in this exhibit, as the home isn't featured there.

The list below contains photos from the Museum's old buildings exhibit that particularly appealed to me:

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Orphanage
Healdsburg Plaza "with a few remaining native trees in 1872"
Furniture and Coffins store
Man on bicycle with bovine
a home
a home
a home
a home

Since the Museum website is one of the best historical society online sites I've seen I imagine the museum itself would contain a wealth of interesting material. Maybe someone connected with the historical society will read this and can explain the history behind Grandview Community Inc.; I hope so.



a little bird said...

I can imagine putting my feet up, curling up in a big chair, sitting by a fire with friends and family... you always have the most amazing postcards!

Carlos Lorenzo said...

Happy Thanks Giving Lydia. I am sure this place in the postcard would be a great place to celebrate Thanks Giving Day. Well, the restaurant you recommend in particular. I like the old house very much. Hope historians give you a hand with this.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Happy Turkey Day. Hope you're feeling better, if not, eat till you're stuffed and nap the day away. Is that possible or are you cooking all day?? Music cheers me--listened to Fresh Air on NPR while I was cooking--an interview with the guys who started the "Philadelphia Sound" and the Soul Train theme song. If you can give it a listen. They have a box set out, LOVE TRAIN. What a happy blast from the past.

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

You are becoming quite the detective!

I'll have to come back and check their site once I'm on a regular connection.

Buddha said...

I love old buildings and old towns.
I long to go back to Europe.
Some time I wish I was rich...
Happy Thanks Giving Lydia.

Lydia said...

Little Bird,
You may be away from family due to your new job? I hope not, but if so I wish you a day - at least in memories - like what you described in your comments. Happy Thanksgiving!

And Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Glad you appreciated the old house. Your post for Thanksgiving at your blog is special (anyone reading this should follow Carlos' link to see it).

I bombed out on TDay reservations where we ate last year; too late. So I'm roasting a small turkey here at home for us and the dogs. It'll be relaxing and I feel good about it. I often listen to Fresh Air but missed the one you mentioned. Loved that music and Motown, too.
Hoping your Thanksgiving day will be wonderful.

Good, I'm glad you'll be able to see the Madrona Manor website when you get back home (or away from dial-up). Lots of beauty there. Happy Thanksgiving (take pictures to share)!

Tell you what, if I ever win the big lottery I'll make sure you and your family get back to Europe. But on one condition, that we get to meet you there for a tour of your hometown (which is where, by the way?). Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I went to a school that had been built as a family home...they don't make em on that scale anymore and a lot of the old houses get separated into smaller flats coz no one can afford a house that size these days - think of the heating bills.

In some ways this is a shame, but in others its nice - coz it means that you get the chance to visit this place and touch a piece of your own history :)

A while ago the house where my mum & uncle were born came up for sale - there was no way we could afford to bring it back into the family, but they phoned the owner and took a trip around - a big ole 3 story manor house...what i want to know is where all the money went!

Lydia said...

So interesting, both about your old school and your family home. I see what you mean about places like that becoming businesses, for all to enjoy. But it sure would have been great to keep that home in the family. Nice the tour was given....

dmarks said...

Do you do this feature a lot? I love doing old postcards like this in my blog, trying to figure out what the place is and all. Yours is the first other blog where I've found this at all.

Lydia said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and I’ll be interested to see yours. I’ve been doing this each Wednesday since May. I haven't figured out how to get hyperlinks in comments but if you click on May in my archives, you will find May 14th was the first post that explained Old Postcard Wednesday. I have come to really love the research behind the postcards; sounds as if you do also!

Naomi said...

appreciate the byways your search led to...maybe it was a commune at some point which happened to many large homes unsaleable in the 1970s. there was one in our neighborhood in baltimore that hare krishna occupied.

they added color and otherness to our mostly dignified, taking-itself-too-seriously streetscape.

Lydia said...

I had an email from the general manager of Madrona Manor today and will soon post some of what he said.
You're wondering something that crossed my mind also. The name doesn't sound like a name applied to a commune, but then again, they may have used it exactly for that reason. There are several Grandview treatment centers in southern California and I wondered if they might be an offshoot from this place.
I hope your Thanksgiving was superb.

Anonymous said...

Madrona Manor was the home of my mother's 1st cousin, Jane Larooka Marshall Paxton, 2nd wife of Blitz Paxton, Sr. Cousin Jane was born in 1867, some 38 years before my mother. Some of the lurid stories about my cousin are misleading, in my humble opinion, but as my family's historian, I have become convinced that Blitz was basically a rich scoundrel. His father was a very wealthy banker, and Blitz followed in his footsteps. I have no knowledge of the Grandview moment in Madrona Manor's history, but I have several photographs of the home dating from the 1890s to 1910.

David Griffiths Sox

Lydia said...

What a delight to receive a comment from a Paxton descendant. I was intrigued by the name "Blitz" and it's fun to learn more about him and his connection to you through the marriage to your mother's 1st cousin.

Did you read my follow-up post, the link of which I added near the photo? It contains communication with Joseph Hadley, who is the general manager of Madrona Manor. I wonder if you might possibly have already been in touch with him. If not, he seems to have a genuine interest in knowing as much of the history of Madrona Manor as he can.

Please, if you ever uncover info about the Grandview phase of this gorgeous old building, let me know (Mr. Hadley, also!).

One more note, I see that your mother's cousin had in her string of names the name Marshall. That was the maiden name of my grandmother, Nellie, who collected this box of old postcards that has come through the decades now in my care. Sharing them, as well as some other old postcards, on Wednesdays here at my blog has been more interesting and fun than I'd ever have imagined.

Thank you so much for your comments.

Jory said...

Hi! Thank You so much for sharing your information with us. I have recently found out my Dad's Aunt, Sadie Knowlton Egholm and her husband Lawrentz owned this property for awhile.

He owned a Jewelry Store in Honolulu, HI and they moved back to California in 1939 or thereabouts.

Sadie passed away in 1948 and the historical library has informed me of a newspaper article where her husband sold several acres of the ranch in 1959.

I was so excited to find this gem in the family tree! My cousin Sue and I hope to make a trip out there and save our pennies so we could at leaste dine there once or maybe even stay for a night!

Jory Knowlton
Monroe, NE

Lydia said...

Jory~ This was one of my favorite old postcards to research because the background...and the outcome...were just so fascinating. Now your comments have added yet more excitement to the comments earlier by David Griffiths Sox. If you were to be able to contact him (?) I wonder if yet more information might be shared.

You and your cousin Sue (I also have a cousin Sue!) most definitely must make that coveted trip. If anyone deserves to be able to spend a night there it certainly is a descendant of a former owner! I hope it can be a reality for you in the near future.



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