Madrona Manor's landmark Victorian mansion turns 126 this year.
John Alexander Paxton was an extremely prosperous man engaged in many successful endeavors, including mining, banking and lumber, and later helped promote the fledgling wine industry in Sonoma County. He served as a State legislator from the Yuba County area.
In 1879, John Paxton bought 240 acres for $10,500.00 as a site for his home. In March of 1880, a contract was given to Ludwig and Guerne to erect a home for $12,000.00 west of Healdsburg across the Dry Creek bridge. The place was known as Madrona Knoll Rancho, and it was the grandest of show places in the 1880's and 90's. All of Healdsburg felt pride in its existence. Paxton was held in awe by most of the town's people. Healdsburg workmen were employed almost exclusively on the building. The first story was up in June and, in July, 3,000 feet of manufactured gas piping was laid. By the end of the year the house was complete with its 17 rooms, 3 ½ baths and 7 fireplaces. Every Monday morning John would either ride horseback or be driven to the depot to entrain for the metropolis of San Francisco, and every Friday evening on his return he would be met at the train station by his groom, Mr. Zimmerman, with a saddle horse or members of his family in an appropriate rig.
The Paxton family consisted of John and Hannah, their two sons, Blitz and Charles (both grown and not living at home) and a sister of Mrs. Paxton's, Miss Ruth McClellan, who, for a time taught at the local school. There was a coachman, a footman, a groom, several maids and at least one indentured servant.
Paxton purchased the forty acre Sterling Ranch in 1881, and five years later began a winery at a cost of $10,000.00. Joe Deluchi laid the stone work, making the walls four feet thick at the base and two feet at the top. The winery was 50' x 70' and 2 ½ stories high. Its capacity was 75,000 gallons and designed to utilize the grapes from Paxton's upland vineyards. The following year Mr. Paxton left New York for business in Liverpool and died aboard the steamer just short of his 69th birthday. Funeral services were held in Healdsburg on June 19, and his body was interred in a stone vault on the eastern slope of Madrona Manor under a favorite evergreen tree.
Hannah built a church at Matheson and East Street as a memorial in 1888. She died in 1902, at which time Mr. Paxton's body was exhumed and both were taken to San Francisco where their remains are buried. Blitz took over the family home as well as the presidency of the Bank of Santa Rosa following his father's death. Madrona Knoll Rancho was retained by Blitz and was used as a weekend retreat until he sold it circa 1913.
The property remained a private residence until 1981 when it was purchased and renovated into its new incarnation as a world-class country inn and restaurant.
In April of 1987 the Madrona Manor was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.
Bill and Trudi Konrad purchased Madrona Manor in April of 1999. They have undertaken further renovations to enhance the elegance of the inn.