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Welcome to the Kelley House Museum

This historic home and research center is located in Mendocino, California on the scenic north coast. Built in 1861 by William Kelley, the house overlooks the ocean and is surrounded by gardens filled with flowers and lawn. The museum, along with docent-led walking tours of the historic preservation district, invites visitors to step back in time and imagine life in a bustling, 19th century logging town.

Kelley House Museum is open: Friday–Sunday, 11am–3pm. 

kelley house walking tour foursome

Historic District Walking Tours

Join one of our walking tours, described as “the perfect way to get a sense of the cast of characters who helped shape the eclectic town of Mendocino.” Visit New England-style pioneer homes, learn why Mendocino was known as the city of water towers, and discover the secrets of the iconic “Time and the Maiden” statue. Enjoy Mendocino’s rich cultural heritage, from the Pomo tribe that lived here for thousands of years, to the European and Chinese immigrants who built the town you see today. Narrated, self-guided tours are also available to download on your smartphone.

Tours last 2 hours, depart several times per week, and cost $25 per person.

several adults and child posing in front of Mendocino Whale War sign

March Whale Festival

Mendocino Whale War Exhibit
March 1st – 31st, 2024

Whale Fest Cider and Cookies
March 2nd, 12pm – 3pm

Few people know that the Mendocino Whale Festival started not as a party, but as a war: the Mendocino Whale War. Visit the Kelley House Museum during March to view posters, photographs, and news clippings in an exhibit about the 1975-1976 protest against illegal whaling.  “The Boy Who Talks to Whales,” a film based loosely on one of the festival founders, will be viewable at the Kelley House Museum during March. 

Exhibit Spotlight

Kelley House Museum: Building a Home

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mendocino Historical Research, Inc., now known as the Kelley House Museum. Building a Home pays tribute to the people who had the vision and determination to turn a dilapidated old house into a research center and museum. Meet founders Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins, who moved to Mendocino, fell in love with local history, then galvanized a community to establish a research center in order to preserve the town’s many stories and artifacts. On display in the exhibit will be some of the earliest donations made to the organization: census records from the 1860s, clothing from the Kelley family, the Ford family’s Bible, materials from Bear & Stebbins’ first exhibit, Mendocino Homes, and Anne Kendall Foote’s bespoke wallpaper reproductions. Exhibit runs through February 26th, 2024

man in hat sitting on stump in black white photo

Coming Soon!

NATHANIEL SMITH
Mendocino Coast’s First Known African American Resident

Exhibit runs from March 1 – May 27, 2024
Exhibit discussion with special guests: March 23, 4:00pm – 5:30pm 

Nathaniel Smith arrived in Mendocino County in the 1850s and is believed to be the first African American to settle on the coast. His life story is revealed through photos, clippings, and artifacts in this Kelley House Museum exhibit. Smith was at one time “known to every man, woman and child on the coast.” This exhibition presents details of Nathaniel Smith’s life set against the history of California’s treatment of people of color. Follow the path of Smith’s life as he moved from his hometown of Baltimore, traveled the world on a ship, and eventually settled and made his life in Mendocino County. Join us on March 23rd at 4pm for an in-depth discussion with Guest Curator Alexander Wood and Susan D. Anderson, History Curator at the California African American Museum. Advance tickets recommended as seating is limited.

 

guided tour @ kelley house museum mendocino california
antique brush and spyglasses
guest playing piano @ kelley house museum mendocino california
file drawers @ kelley house museum mendocino california
guided tour @ kelley house museum mendocino california

Featured Book ~ From KHM Store

photo of dirt road lined with shops from 19th century.

Experience Kelley House

Book Store. Our wide assortment of local history books delve into topics as diverse as movies filmed in Mendocino, shipbuilding, early architecture, and Native American history.

Research. Search our collections or let our expert staff help. Our climate-controlled storage and research facility is home to over 150 years of Mendocino coastal history.

Newsletter. Stay current and connected with the living history of Kelley House Museum as we uncover new stories, host events, and feature special collections.

Donate. Please join us in our efforts to preserve and share Mendocino’s history. Become a member or make a donation today.

Making History Blog

Henry K. Gordon

February 25, 1945 - Henry Gordon, pioneer Mendocino woodsman, died at the Redwood Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg from cancer of the esophagus at the age of 76. He had been receiving treatment in the hospital for about two months. Born in Canada in 1868, Henry was the fifth of eight children born to Archibald [...]

guided tour @ kelley house museum mendocino california
sorting boxes @ kelley house museum
display case @ kelley house museum mendocino california
antique desk @ kelley house museum mendocino california

The Kelley House Museum is a 501c(3) non-profit educational corporation, tax ID number 94-2277534.

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