January 23, 1948 – A group of photographers from the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Art Institute) visited Mendocino on a field trip. The nineteen art school students, 3 of them women, spent four days taking photos of Mendocino residents, buildings, and business interiors.

The group stayed at the Lazy Eye Auto Court south of Little River (today’s Inn at Schoolhouse Creek). Most of them were former World War II service members who were using their G. I. Bill education benefits to study for their chosen profession. They were accompanied by their instructor Minor White. White had joined the faculty in 1946, and under his leadership, the school created the first fine art photography department in the US.

Black and white photo of three historic water towers and houses

Gebhard Hegenmeyer’s Water Tower, looking east, 1948. Photograph of Gebhard Hagenmeyer’s water tower (built 1884) on Calpella, between Lansing and Ford Streets. J. D. Johnson’s water tower is on the right. In the far distance, there is a water tower belonging to Rafael Paoli, located on Howard Street. The small house in the foreground, now gone, was known as the Louis Lombardi House. The small house between the two towers was built by J. D. Johnson for Otis Kelley’s mother-in-law, Rose McGuire. The window just to the left of Johnson’s tower is on the Old Bakery Building (now Rainsong Shoes), located on Lansing Street. (Photographer: William Heick)

Photos from this trip were exhibited at the San Francisco Art Museum. In July, a portion of the exhibit was put on display in Mendocino at the Remedy Store on Main Street, where they received a lot of attention from the locals.

The Kelley House Archives houses over a dozen of the photos taken on this trip by William Heick. Heick served as a naval intelligence photographer in the Pacific during World War II. His career spanned seven decades, he produced over 200 films and tens of thousands of photographs, and his fine art photography was exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, DeYoung Museum, Seattle Museum of Art, and Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley.