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History uncovers new outlook on Preston Colony

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 | Posted by

1999 aerial photo by Holly Hoods, view northeast, overlooking the Russian River and the Preston colonist residences. All the land visible on the east side of the river was owned by Emily Preston more than 100 years ago.


The Cloverdale Historical Society’s Spring Speaker Series continues this week with a special presentation on “The Preston Colony – a New Outlook.”

A health-oriented religious colony located less than three miles north of Cloverdale, the Preston Colony was centered on the Christian teachings and medical practices of the charismatic Emily Preston, widely and respectfully known as Madam Preston.

Hartwell Preston

Recent research has opened new vistas on the importance of Emily’s husband, Hartwell Preston, to the success of the Preston community during its peak of popularity between 1885 and 1910.

The physical evolution of Preston as a community had its roots in the individual land purchases and consolidation of real estate by Hartwell. A respected and well-known attorney from Northern California, he purchased a vineyard and stock ranch north of town in the early 1870s with plans to retire there.

Hear the rest of the story from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  Tuesday, April 30, at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, 209 N. Cloverdale Blvd.

Guest speakers will be Holly Hoods, curator of the Healdsburg Museum; Lisa Ellis, caretaker of the Preston Ranch and Church; and Richard Winterhalder, owner of Preston House, former summer residence of Hartwell and Emily Preston.

There is a $5 suggested donation. Live music and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 894-2067.

  • Michele Leonard

    Sounds like a fascinating evening. I’ve always been intrigued by Madam Preston.

  • Madelyn Ketchum

    I’ll be there.

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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