This unique building is called THE REDWOOD CENTER and was built in 1966 by Kenneth Ricksecker, one of the original developers of Surfwood Estates.
Located at the curvy south entrance to Mendocino, where Main Street meets Highway 1, the building’s large .84-acre site is just east of Evergreen Cemetery. The lot is actually “new land” composed of mostly fill dirt that lies over former pasture along what was a section of LeBallister Gulch. It was all covered up and made level when CalTrans workers graded the area for the new bridge approach over Big River in the early 1960s. (The gulch still exists, in altered form, northeast and south of here. The small creek at the bottom of the gulch was placed in an underground pipe through the site, emptying onto the north edge of Big River beach, in the area once called The Bull Field.)
When it opened, there were three businesses in the contemporary-style building. Two were offices – Ricksecker’s Redwood Coast Realty office and the chiropractic office of Dr. Charles C. Hayes.
The third one was the Ruth Carlson Studio Gallery, which took up the main central space with those distinctive skylights along the roof ridge. In addition to her own watercolor paintings, Ruth sold sculpture, pottery, prints, paintings, jewelry, and serigraphs by local artists in a boutique-like setting. Later run by Georgia Ann Gregory and renamed “Gallery One,” The gallery space closed in 2000.
Other businesses here included Barefoot Mendocino, a therapeutic massage and facial skin care shop that operated at the same time as Gallery One. Another was Mendo Wheels, open from 2005 to at least 2007, which was a special car rental depot where visitors could park their cars and rent Zero Air Pollution (ZAP) vehicles for sight-seeing around the coast. (The Kelley House would love to know about other businesses at this location!)
It seems fitting that the site is presently the home of the Mendocino Garden Shop, because back when the building was just a year old, the Mendocino Rotary Club partnered with its owner, Mr. Ricksecker, to have an April Rhododendron Festival here. In the newly created raised beds around its large parking lots, dozens and dozens of potted rhododendrons plants in full bloom were put on display. The proceeds from the sale of these garden beauties went on to benefit the community projects for which the Rotarians are deservedly well-known.