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Damage to historic buildings a blow to Napa's downtown makeover

  • The Goodman Library sustained damage during a 6.0 earthquake on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 in Napa. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

The earthquake comes at a time when Napa has worked hard to refashion itself into a wine county destination in an effort to draw more tourism downtown.

This city’s historic downtown has undergone a dramatic makeover with the addition of many high-end restaurants and hotels designed to cater to out-of-towners and capture the tourist dollar.

A number of tasting rooms and wine bars have proliferated downtown, including several that opened in historic buildings dating to the late 1800s.

On Sunday one of those buildings, Main Street’s Pfeiffer Building, suffered heavy damage with bricks falling off the façade, leaving a large pile of debris at its base that spilled onto the sidewalk.

A few blocks away, at the historic Semorile building, wine bar and restaurant employees at The Bounty Hunter found a mess of beer and wine flooding the floor.

Between 200-250 bottles of wine broke, estimated at a loss of $5,000-$10,000, according to Craig House, president of the business.

The restaurant also lost two kegs of beer when bottles felt off of a shelf onto the keg taps, causing the kegs to empty.

House said the two-story building plus basement was built in 1888 and that it had been earthquake-retrofitted. Large beams at the building entrance were evidence of the added support.

“I think the city and county have done a good job of maintaining the character of the town while demanding retrofit,” said House. “You can’t eliminate the risk. All you can do is mitigate and control it.”

His building didn’t appear to be badly damaged but the building next to it, also a retrofitted historic building, appeared to have suffered significant damage with cracks running along the walls inside and out.

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