A marvelously detailed print of Benicia’s College of St. Augustine (circa 1867) forms the cover of this Christmas card, an appropriate image for the Kinnaman family as it illustrates their family home as it looked when built as part of the original College.
Situated in the foreground on the left-hand side of the picture, the house boasts a large bay window, side porch and balcony. The assembly of uniformed college cadets seen here supplies the human element and serves to provide scale in what is essentially an architecturally-oriented composition, as does the lady with her young charges and the two men taking their ease on the grass, the whole rendered in a slightly stiff and charmingly naïve style.
The empty hills stretching back to the horizon underscore the significance of such a sophisticated and substantial academic outpost in what was still a relatively unpopulated territory. The grounds of the school were quite extensive, some 60 acres, and were laid out and decorated “… with flowers, ornamental trees and shrubbery.” From The History of Solano County I have learned that the College compound included several dormitories, a dining hall, a chapel, an Armory with gymnasium attached, and a large building “Erected for the Eulexian Literary and Dramatic Society,” plus the parade grounds. Imagining this wonderful complex, the cadets dressed in grey and red, I am quite overcome by the loss of this stately beauty and important landmark. Members of the Kinnaman clan still reside at 36 Wingfield Way. I’m sure they especially appreciate the holiday sentiment composed by their relatives many Christmases ago. It reads:
May the meaning of Christmas be deeper,
its friendship stronger, its hopes brighter,
as it comes to you this year.