1478 Railroad Avenue
Johnson’s Depot Saloon was probably built about the same time as the Southern Pacific Depot, circa 1868. Its stone and frame construction is one of the few examples remaining in the Napa Valley. All of these buildings were saloons at one time. The first floor is built of native fieldstone and the second floor is frame with shiplap siding.
While the upstairs was proclaimed to be a boarding house, common town knowledge was that it was indeed a thriving bordello, owned and operated by an entrepreneurial 18-year-old, John Wright. Wright installed an exterior staircase going up to the premises ensuring rapid and easy access. Business thrived in this little transportation district one block off Main Street with a saloon, a depot, a bordello and a distillery.
Ultimately, in 1899, the two buildings were joined, creating one busy place serving the varied needs of many people. An addition now conceals where the outside staircase ran up to the second floor for entry. Johnson’s Depot Saloon catered to customers arriving and departing from St. Helena at the neighboring railroad depot.
In 1922, the saloon was turned into a residence and since then has housed both residential and business spaces. In 1960, a trio of businessmen bought the buildings and accomplished a major renovation meant to return them to functional landmarks with economic potential and to bring them back to vitality as historically significant buildings. The Saloon, along with the Sherry Building, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 30, 2007.