Welcome to Kelley House Museum!

About the Kelley House Museum

The mission of the Kelley House Museum is to collect, preserve and share the rich history of the Mendocino Coast. Founded in 1972, Kelley House Museum, Inc. maintains a beautiful house museum and gardens, as well as the Mendocino Coast’s only museum-quality storage facility and staffed research office. Our research archives represent over 150 years of Mendocino coastal history. Collections include historic photo collections, local genealogical data, research documents and publications. Over 3000 entries of maps, documents, books, photographs, oral histories and artifacts from our collection are searchable through our site.

The Kelley House Museum is an historic house museum in the heart of Mendocino, California, a picturesque town of 1,000 people. The home was built in 1861 by William Kelly (sp), one of Mendocino’s founding fathers, and now contains 19th Century furniture. The ocean-view home sits on an acre of gardens, with a pond and three resident geese. William had the pond built and stocked so that the neighborhood children could fish.

Did You Know?

We offer Walking Tours of the Mendocino National Historic Preservation District. Tours leave from the Kelley House Museum every Saturday and Sunday at 11 am, and last for 1 1/2 hours.

History Mystery

Mendocino Teenagers

Mendocino Teenagers

This photograph was taken around 1958. It belonged to a collection of photographs from Dee Lemos, who taught English at Mendocino High School for many years. It is probably the Art Department at the High School but who are these fellows?


Father Time and the Maiden Big River Logjam Racing on the Mendocino Headlands in the 1930s The J.M.Griffith in Mendocino Bay Kwan Tai Temple Loggers working a Tall Redwood Closeup of Loggers on a Redwood Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Wells Fargo Stage in Mendocino Logging Camp on Big River

Around the House
—Director’s Blog—

Antique Appraisals & Auction

June 26th, 2014 by Staff

Calling all donors!

Do you have items to donate to Kelley House for our annual silent auction? We will be accepting donations at the Kelley House on three Thursdays in July. This year we are limiting the Auction side to antiques, collectibles, jewelry, and unique items. Please bring your donation items to us on Thursday, July 10 or July 17 or July 24 from 10 AM to 1 PM. We will be there to assist you! (Note: these collection dates replace the “open” drop-off previously done at the research office.)

This year our new event is called Attic Treasures: Appraisals & Auction. It is set for Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 10 am to 4pm at Crown Hall in Mendocino and will include appraisal stations along with our popular silent auction offerings. Mark your calendar now as you won’t want to miss out on the fun. Donate your collectibles to Kelley House now and then bring your precious cavalry horse bridle on September 27th for appraisal!

For more information, contact the Kelley House Museum at 707-937-5791 or email info@kelleyhousemuseum.org.

A Sunday Afternoon With

July 21st, 2014 by Staff

“A Sunday Afternoon With” July 27, 2014
The Architecture of Mendocino

Mendocino is full of houses with interesting exterior features, but what’s underneath the outer gingerbread ornamentation is a whole other story. Come to the Kelley House Museum on July 27th at 4pm for “A Sunday Afternoon With”, featuring the Architecture of Mendocino presented by architect/ professor Tom Thomson.



Escola/Flannagan House being readied for 2nd story



Professor Thomson first visited Mendocino in 1964 and fell in love with the area. After a career teaching architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, he retired to Mendocino and built a home on Cahto Street. Describing himself as “a curious cat,” Thomson began investigating various buildings in town; more specifically, the interior load-bearing structures.

Mendocino has often been referred to as a “Victorian Village.” While it was built partly by New Englanders, there are Portuguese elements in the local architecture as well. This was brought by immigrants from the Azores Islands. Thomson says many other factors influenced local building styles. Environmental conditions, like strong winds, fostered steep roof rake angles to diminish wind-loading on building frames. A direct response to materials available locally resulted in houses being built using boards produced by the mill down by the river. Thrifty budgets sometimes meant property owners built their modest homes with scrap lumber from the mill.

Mr. Thomson will share history tidbits about the relationship of Portuguese family sizes to the number of dormer windows that might have been added to a house. Coal-burning fireplaces influenced room sizes. Practical considerations often dictated set dimensions for roof trusses and pitch angles. Thomson will display photos from his own collection as well as some from the Kelley House Museum archive, and will interpret why specific construction techniques were utilized.

Join us at the Kelley House Museum at 4pm, July 27th, for “A Sunday Afternoon With” featuring architect Tom Thomson