SOLD OUT: Speaker Series – Madame Preston Event 11.16.23


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Held at the Cloverdale Center for Performing Arts (CPAC)

Date:  November 16, 2023
Doors Open:  6:30 pm
Program:  7 pm

Meet the filmmaker!  Wine Reception at the History Museum starts after the program.

Madam Preston:  Local History

The Speaker Series is back with a super program about local history!  We are showing a documentary film by Dan Ditzler about the Preston Ranch off Geysers Road.    This fascinating film tells the story of Madam Preston’s Colony in the 1800s, and the many talented musicians who made it their community in the 1970s, many of whom still call Sonoma County home.  

“It was Hartwell Preston who came first to Oak Mountain, north of Cloverdale, across the Russian River. A well-connected Virginian with a Harvard degree and a successful law practice, Preston bought property extending into Mendocino County.  In 1873, having built her a fancy 15-room Italianate home, he brought his new wife Emily to live there. Hartwell had an interest in spiritual matters.  And so did Emily. She was 54 years old, had two previous marriages and two grown children, when they met in San Francisco.  She also had a reputation as a healer, based on her ability to concoct potions and salves.

He was the first minister in the picturesque church they built on the side of Oak Mountain. She expanded her mail-order medicine business, making wine-based tonics from the grapes they planted on the mountain.  After Hartwell died in 1890, Emily became the preacher, and, gradually, the pivotal figure for a growing number of people ho came to be ‘treated’ for a variety of illnesses and stayed to become the followers of the woman whom they knew fondly as Madam.”

— LeBaron, Gaye. “Emily Preston Owned the Town, Mocked Authority.” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 29, 1987.