Church History

That first church building was dedicated in 1858. The Rev James Corwin was appointed to the Napa Circuit in 1855 and reappointed in 1856. By this time membership had grown to twelve. They felt the need of a church edifice and canvassed the town for funds to buy another lot and build a church. The Rev Corwin was also a carpenter and filled the post of engineer at a sawmill operated behind the White Church north of St Helena. The mill owner, Erwin Kellogg, donated the use of the mill, Rev Corwin cut the logs, members of the church hauled the pre-cut lumber to the Napa site and the church was built entirely by volunteer labor. When she was 100 years old, one of the early members, Penelope Howell, described the church as, “Straight up and down boards, with hard benches to sit on. But we went to be fed with the Word of the Lord, so it did not matter how we had to sit, and the one room was large enough for the twelve church members.” This church was built on a 120’ x 120’ lot purchased for $100 from Nathan Coombs at the corner of 5th and Randolph Streets.

By 1859 the first parsonage had become inadequate. A new parsonage was built near the church at 5th and Randolph. The lot at 2nd and Randolph was returned to Nathan Coombs. The parsonage served the next three pastors of the church but in 1864, a few days after the arrival of the new pastor W J Maclay, the parsonage was destroyed by fire. All the records of the church and the pastor’s personal belongings were destroyed as well. The story is told that the fire was started by a neighbor lad who wishing to punish the family cow set fire to the barn. The fire destroyed not only the barn but the parsonage as well. There is no report as to the fate of the cow.

As a result of the fire a new parsonage was needed. During the eleven years since the first parsonage was built, more families had moved to Napa City and the homes were more substantial than the original structures. Methodist membership had increased and there were several on the Probationary Roll.