In 1892 Edward S. Churchill had the 10,000 square foot Cedar Gables Inn built by the famous English architect Ernest Coxhead. It cost him a whopping $8000. It was a wedding present for his son E. Wilder Churchill and his bride Alice Ames. The couple had one daughter whom they named Dorothy. Mr. E. Wilder Churchill went into the banking business as a young man and also managed the famous Tokalon vineyard near Rutherford.
Cedar Gables Inn was best known for its grand parties and elegant social gatherings. Both Mr and Mrs E Wilder Churchill were active in the artistic life of the community. She was a singer and he was a banker and an actor. Just after they moved into their new home E. Wilder and Alice entertained a merry company of young people with a two act farce then came dancing and general sociability. Less than a year later the couple again hosted a play at Cedar Gables. It was the social event of the year highlighted on the society page as "the home of Mr and Mrs E. Wilder Churchill again the scene of Mirth and Merriment." The pair performed in many locations including the Cedar Gables and the Napa Valley Opera House.
In 1892 the Calistoga News printed that the new residence of E. W Churchill on the corner of Oak and Union (now Coombs Street) was fast approaching completion.
The article described how the style of the house was somewhat like that of the Victorian-English Tudor of 1564 "fashioned during the days of Shakespeare and entirely different from that of any other residence in this city." "Nothing of the kind can be found in the state with the possible exception of Alameda" (a small version of Cedar Gables also built by Ernest Coxhead) the article concluded.
The day it was completed, Friday Oct 21, 1892 the Napa register noted "On the corner of Oak and Union streets stands one of the most unique dwellings in Napa County." It became one of the big 4 mansions in the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park National Register Historic District.
Since electricity first appeared in Napa in 1880, Cedar Gables has always had electricity; however, perhaps doubting the early wiring techniques of the day, the decorators also put in numerous gas lamps. Originally, the downstairs was not carpeted. It was kept well oiled and
waxed in such a manner as to render itself to turn of the century fancy
balls and gala parties galore. Cedar Gables has many intriguing rooms, a winding staircase, and sliding
paneled doorways. The picturesque tower lends a slightly Medieval air
to the mansion as does the bronze soldier who stands guard on the
Over the years The Cedar Gables has had many owners, and has been home to many people.
In Sept 1933 The Edward Wilder Churchill Mansion was purchased by Mrs. Ella Balmer, a single mom. She turned it into a boarding house (which was one of the few respectable things a woman could do in those days) supporting upwards of 33 rooms. She is the one who put up the "Cedar Gables Inn" sign. During World War II it housed military nurses.
In March 1959 Ella sold the Inn to Albert Giovannoni, who two months later sold the property to Beth and Frank Dashiell, who later sold it to the Bronsons.
In 1962 Bob and Patty Smith purchased the Inn from Daniel and Helen Bronson
In the spring of 1977 it was sold to Rose C. White and in 1982 was inherited by Robert and Sandie White.
In August 1985 Lady Patty Bryant purchased the Cedar Gables Inn and refurbished it in a hollywood theme. The rooms were decorated and renamed; Gone with the Wind Room, Marilyn Monroe Room, Mary Poppins Room, Romeo & Juliette Room and at the top of the house she painted it green for the Emerald City and named the room the Wizard of Oz. She said "This will not be a Bed and Breakfast Inn but rather a resort for pampering women with facials, body wrapping, manicures, with a health-oriented breakfast and lunch."
Today Cedar Gables is a 4 star bed and breakfast. Following in yesteryears traditions it continues to host executive retreats, fancy dinners, holiday parties and grand social events.