First Presbyterian Church dates back to 1853. A small group of worshipers, who met weekly in the Napa County Courthouse, organized a "Society." By 1857, the Society had completed a comfortable house of worship on a 60 x 120 foot lot on Randolph Street; the lot was donated to the Society by Nathan Coombs.
Worship in the Randolph Street structure was a vast improvement over the environment of the Courthouse. Sparsely furnished, the congregation observed Communion by using a silver-plate set (two bread plates and two goblets) donated by Mr. W. S. Jacks. Mr. Jacks later donated a matching tankard and a baptismal font. There were no pews, but the congregation voted in 1858 to purchase a melodian to accompany the hymns. Hard, wooden benches might suffice, but music was an early priority.
In 1868, when the original site became too small for the growing church, the sanctuary was remodeled, making it longer and wider. At that time, the Rev. James Wylie and his son, Richard, donated a bell to the church. It cost $600 and carried a one-year warranty. In April of 1986, the original bell was rung 118 times, calling attention to its years of service.
Hardly a day goes by without a query regarding the history of the striking Gothic-style structure. Early records credit Napa architects Daley and Eisen with the design. The construction in 1874 was completed by J. W. Batchelor; exterior and interior painting was done by E. Schltis.
The cornerstone of the original building (1854) was re-laid as the cornerstone of the second building on August 20, 1874. This second structure is the present-day sanctuary and was designated a historical landmark by the State of California in 1975.
Interested in learning more?
Click on the link below to see a collection of historical details of the founding of First Presbyterian Church of Napa now on display in our Welcome Center.