125 years 'for the good of society'

As we approach the Napa Chamber of Commerce’s 125th Anniversary, the staff has been busy searching through boxes for pieces of historic significance to mark this milestone. We’ve also been working on plans for our annual luncheon on Jan. 31, to serve as the kickoff to our anniversary year.

The history of the Napa Chamber is rich. Hidden up in a hallway closet were boxes full of Chamber ledgers from the late 1800s and turn of the century. Hand-written meeting minutes reveal collaboration between budding Chambers in the Napa Valley and beyond, growth of a burgeoning local commerce and the creation of manufacturing ventures along the Napa River.

The first beautifully penned entry in this weathered, leather-bound book dates September 30, 1889. Standards and procedures that the Napa Chamber of Commerce continues to adhere to at this day began at that time. An election of officers commenced, the order of business was adopted, and so began an organization for “the good of the society,” which endures 125 years later.

A particularly fascinating entry on April 23, 1906, notes:

“… meeting being called for the purpose of taking steps toward assisting manufacturers who had lost their plants through the recent earthquake and fire in San Francisco, and who were desirous of seeking new locations, to locate at Napa.”

A committee was formed to discuss this opportunity further.

Familiar names pop up throughout the ledgers: the Borreo Brothers, who were paid $600 on January 14, 1901 for construction materials; H.R. Goodman, who called a special meeting in August 1901, sharing information about new factories coming to Napa, and Mr. Coombs, who in February of 1905 suggested a group of representatives travel to San Francisco to protest proposed legislation that would affect industries on the Pacific Coast.

It’s a story of change, development and community devotion that continues to this day. Committees continue to tackle issues of importance and fight legislation that may hinder local business. We continue to support fellow Chambers and explore ways to collaborate. And, the Board continues to work diligently for the good of the community.

Some things never change.

At our Annual Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 31, at the Napa Valley Marriott, we will recognize important community leaders who are advancing the community of Napa to continued prosperity. The lunch will feature our incoming board president, chef Ken Frank, along with our Citizen of the Year, Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd. Both of these men have proven strong leadership and are blazing trails in their respective industries.

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