Emanuel Manasse, Pioneer Jewish Tanner of Napa, California


Emanuel Manasse

Emanuel Manasse

Emanuel Manasse

Values Codes  I-E-L


Emanuel Manasse was born in Germany in 1842.


Along the way

The son of a tanner, Emanuel Manasse immigrated to America, in 1864.

Emanuel Manasse married Amelia Hellwig, the daughter of a German tanner, in New Jersey.

The young couple traveled to San Francisco a few years later.



In 1871, Emanuel and Amelia Manasse came to Napa City, California

Emanuel Manasse began working as superintendent for the Sawyer Tannery.

A gifted tanner, Emanuel Manasse developed the Nap-A-Tan waterproofing process.

Emanuel Manasse is also credited with developing Patent Leather and creating Napa Leather, an extremely soft leather used for gloves.

Emanuel Manasse became a partner in the firm in 1880.

The Sawyer Tannery was in operation for 120 years closing its doors in 1990.


Sawyer Tanning Co. of Napa, California

Sawyer Tanning Co. of Napa, California



Manasse Mansion, now the White House Inn & Spa

Manasse Mansion, now the White House Inn & Spa

Emanuel Manasse married Amelia Hellwig before coming to California.

Together they had six children.


In 1886, Emanuel Manasse built a magnificent 12,000 square foot mansion for his wife and  children located at 443 Brown Street.

The house was designed by noted Napa architect W.H. Corlett.

Today it is the White House Inn and Spa.


Emanuel Manesse died in 1899.


After his death, Amelia Manasse divided the large home by constructing a wall in the center and adding a second staircase thereby converting the home into a duplex.

In the 1940s, the home was further subdivided into 6 apartments.

In 1990, the Morris family purchased the structure and converted it into a Bed & Breakfast.


For more information, see:

Under the Vine and the Fig Tree: The Jews of Napa Valley, by Lin Weber, ISBN 0-9667014-4-5, 2003

Napa Valley’s Jewish Heritage, by Henry Michalski and Donna Mendelsohn, ISBN 978-0-7385-8898-8 Arcadia Publishers

Both books are available thru the Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, info@jhsnv.org



Emanuel Manasse portrait

Manasse Mansion, 12,000 sq.ft. home now the White House Inn and Spa, Napa

Sawyer Tannery Co., (courtesy of H. Michalski Postcard Collection)

Click on photos to enlarge them.

Lauren Chevlen is curator of this Emanuel Manasse Family Exhibit.