My visit with the Carmelites in Oakville, California in Napa County. Thank you Brothers for the opportunity to spend a few days with you and to have had the pleasure to meet you all. God Bless You.
“It was towards evening of a hot day, September 5, 1955. The first shades of dusk were settling peacefully on the quiet hills around the lonely mansion, itself buried in deeper stillness. Weary in body but elated in spirit four of us climbed the small rise of ground to our new monastery, to a new future for our order and ourselves. We had finally arrived in northern California, a significant milestone on the road to new horizons of achievement to self determination”.
Thus, father Edward described in his diary the manner in which she and the other three founders took possession of the mansion, which was to become the first Carmelite Monastery in Northern California.
The Doak mansion , which was eventually to become the Carmelite House of Prayer was built by David Perry Doak, industrialist. The structure began to be built in 1917 and was completed in 1921, at the cost of $250,000. Weeks and Day of San Francisco, where the designers. Landscaping was provided by John McLaren, designer of the wrold famous Golden gate Park in San Francisco. David Doak died in the House on Fairbury 26, 1921 shortly after its completion David Doaks widow, Frida, mmarried Colonel John McGill.
The mansion was originally situated on 2,000 acres of land, extending from the foothills of the Napa Valley to what would eventually become Highway 29. In 1927 it was offered by McGill to President Calvin Coolidge at no charge.Though Originally, to be his “summer” White House, instead President Coolidge would make the decision to set up his summer residence in Colorado.
From about 1930-1945 the mansion was without residents and largely neglected. In 1945, the entire property was sold to the wealthy Napa Valley rancher, Martin Stellings. He was interested in the prime agricultural land and actually never lived in the mansion. Through caretakers, he kept the house from serious deterioration., although quite a lot of vandalism did take place.