Carlson’s City Hotel

Carlson’s City Hotel, c. 1871-1886. Note the windmill behind the hotel. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

July 24, 1859 – John Edward Carlson married Elizabeth Kupp Broderick. Elizabeth, a widow, was born in County Cork, Ireland and had a 6-year-old son. They had four more children together and operated a successful hotel.

John was born in Sweden on June 20, 1827. He came to California in 1849 as a seaman and arrived in Mendocino in 1852 on the ship Ontario. He was one of the original members of the California Lumber Manufacturing Company along with William H. Kelly, Jerome B. Ford, Edwards C. Williams, and David Lansing. Carlson helped build the sawmill and worked there until 1857 when he decided to build a hotel.

The City Hotel, also known as The Carlson Hotel, was located at the far west end of Main Street in Mendocino. The original structure burned during the fire of 1870, and the Carlsons immediately rebuilt the hotel, adding a new wing on the east side. Elizabeth passed away in 1880, and John retired from the hotel business in 1882.

The hotel was demolished in 1917 by the Mendocino Lumber Company, and the demolition crew found several 1860s silver fifty-cent pieces and a foreign coin inside the southwest pier. The coins had been tossed into the pier by the townspeople when it was constructed over 45 years before. On that day, a young boy named Billy Mullen contributed the foreign coin which he carried as a good-luck charm. The lumber company returned the good-luck charm to the Postmaster, William Mullen.

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