Fountain Grove, California

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Fountaingrove Round Barn, built while Kanaye Nagasawa ran the Fountaingrove estate. The historic building was destroyed on October 9, 2017, during the Tubbs Fire.

Fountain Grove was a utopian colony founded near Santa Rosa, California, by Thomas Lake Harris in 1875.[1] Most of its settlers were followers of Harris's Brotherhood of the New Life and moved with Harris from their previous colony at Brocton, New York.


Nagasawa Kanaye (1852-1934) was Harris' California lieutenant, who acted as developer and manager of the community's 2,000 acres (8 km2) of vineyards near Santa Rosa. He also succeeded Harris and acted as leader of the brotherhood until 1934.

The main structure was a two-story mansion originally occupied by Harris, his wife, and a handful of utopians; it was also used for important guest lodging and common meals. It was called "Aestivossa" by Harris, which he said meant "high country of divine joy" in a language only he understood.[2] The structure was commonly referred to as the manor house. Luxuriously furnished, it was in the center of a ring of eucalyptus trees and little gardens and a lily pond, but Harris maintained that his "real palace" was in "interspace."[3] According to Brotherhood guidelines, all of the structures in the Fountain Grove commune were built to be taken physically into the "Celestial Sphere."[4] The manor house was demolished in 1970.[5][6]

Modern neighborhood[edit]

Harris' community left a significant stamp on the history of Santa Rosa, and today that part of town is still called Fountaingrove, and a street, Thomas Lake Harris Drive, is named for Harris. The round barn that was part of the winery was a noted landmark in the area until its loss to fire in 2017.

The former Fountain Grove Winery buildings, now owned by Medtronic, are slated for demolition. The original winery was founded in 1882 and ceased operations in the early 1940s.[7]

Today the neighborhood is known to be home to some of the city's wealthiest residents. Fountaingrove and Skyfarm together comprise the most expensive neighborhoods in the city and the county as a whole.

The neighborhood was severely affected by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which destroyed many homes, along with the Fountaingrove Inn and the round barn.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hine, Robert V. (1953). California's Utopian Colonies. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library. pp. 12–32.
  2. ^ LeBaron, Gaye (July 18, 1993). "Fountaingrove's strange history reads like fiction". The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
  3. ^ LeBaron, Gaye (Feb 6, 1994). "Angels watched over Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove". The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
  4. ^ "Scholars have estimated that Harris believers numbered about 1,000 at the peak of his charismatic career," Fountaingrove History Folder, Gaye LeBaron Collection, Special Collections, University Library, Sonoma State University.
  5. ^ Kagan, Paul (1975). New World utopias: a photographic history of the search for community. Penguin Books. pp. 21, 32–33.
  6. ^ Sutton, Robert P. (2003). Communal utopias and the American experience: religious communities, 1732–2000. Greenwood. p. 125. ISBN 0-275-97554-1.
  7. ^ "State of neglect." Santa Rosa Press Democrat. April 17, 2015
  8. ^ "1 dead as Wine Country fires burn hundreds of homes and businesses, force evacuations, close hospitals". SF Gate. October 9, 2017.
  9. ^ Porter, Kent (October 9, 2017). "Santa Rosa's historic round barn burns in the Fountaingrove area". The Press Democrat.

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