Archive for September, 2009

Springs Eternal

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Taking an early morning drive north of San Francisco to the top of the verdant Napa Valley, you turn right, up and over the hills into the lesser known Hope Valley. It was here in the late 1800’s that a resort was developed around the natural Aetna Springs. Promoted as a healthy escape from the confines of the bustling city, the resort prospered for many years before fading out in the…

Many of the eariest buildings remain, although time has taken it’s toll with a number of roofs fallen in and floors rotted through. Still, amongst the decay, there is a wonderful sense of nostalgia for what must have been one of the first family getaways on the west coast.

Recently, a group of investors have revived the neglected golf course, building a new Johnson Fain designed clubhouse as the first of a number of proposed improvements. As it turns out, the additional developments are having a difficult passage through local planning bodies, so for the time being, the clubhouse seems to have entered a state of suspended animation. The lights are on, the coffee machine is primed, soothing music oozes from the rafters, the greens are in immaculate condition but there’s no-one there. It’s like some 1950‘s science fiction movie where the entire population has just vanished.

Scattered throughout the clubhouse were a number of old advertisements for Aetna Springs, documenting what was clearly a quirky past and hinting at what may yet still be a glorious future.