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Stories from the valley

Exploring Downtown Woodland: A Hidden Historic Gem

Contributed by Keli Gwyn

Tree-lined streets, beautiful buildings, and friendly people await you in Downtown Woodland. My recent visit afforded me all those and more. I experienced a welcome sense of peace, brought about by the historic surroundings and reminding me of a time when life moved along at a slower pace and people seemed more inclined to smile at strangers.

My husband and I set out to explore the area on foot, an ideal way to take in the many wonderful sights. Our first stop was the Woodland Public Library located at 250 First Street. The earliest section, built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie in 1903, features the Mission Revival design. As you enter, be sure to look up and admire the domed roof of the rotunda. Wandering the twice-expanded facility is a delightful experience, due to the welcoming atmosphere and feeling of community awaiting visitors inside.

Moving on to Main Street, we admired the architecture. Two buildings in particular captured my attention. The four-story Historic Hotel Woodland, at 436 Main, is a fine example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Completed in 1928, the hotel offered luxurious accommodations to its many guests. Like many older buildings, this one fell into disrepair, but it was brought back to life in the late 1990s. Meticulously restored, it offers today’s guests old-time elegance and is known for being one of the best wedding and reception venues in Yolo County.

Just down the street at 501-511 Main, the stately Porter Building stands proudly, a prime example of Second Renaissance Revival architecture. Built of tan brick with white terra cotta details, it’s an impressive sight. The intricate work evidenced in the bracketed cornice is its crowning glory. Like the hotel, the Porter Building is included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

From Main, my guy and I explored a portion of the town’s Historic Stroll, venturing up Third Street and down Second Street. Our original destination was the R. H. Beamer House at 19 Third Street. Built in 1904, this historic home showcases the Italianate style and features two chimneys, a portico supported by Corinthian columns, bay windows, and more. Beamer, a former mayor of Woodland, helped establish the library we’d admired earlier. Our trek proved more delightful than expected since these streets are lined with lovely homes, from Victorians of the 1800s to several fine examples of the 1950’s mid-century modern. If you’d like to see inside some of these stunning homes, plan to attend Woodland’s Stroll Through History in October.

Having worked up an appetite, my husband and I enjoyed lunch at Kitchen Four Twenty-Eight, located in the historic Jackson Building at 428 First Street. This Farm-to-Fork restaurant offers a nice selection of salads and sandwiches. The food is tasty, the staff friendly, and the vintage door and windows décor delightful. Our delicious meal served as a great way to wrap up our wonderful experience in Downtown Woodland. I highly recommend a visit to this historic gem.