Building with large sliding front doors and two windows

The former Eugene Brown store/barn, before reconstruction. Note the boardwalk in front. The water tower and rooftop on the right belong to the Paoli Hotel. To the right is a retaining wall associated with the Eugene Brown House.

In 1874, Eugene Brown opened his mercantile store in this building on Main Street. At the time, this structure had a false front which was later removed. Eugene sold a wide range of goods, including groceries, tobacco, clothing, housewares, and home decorating supplies. The store also served as the office for Wells Fargo’s Express for many years.

After Eugene’s death in 1920, his cousin, Albert Brown, operated the store as a hardware and electrical supply house until his death in 1935. Between 1956 and 1963, the upstairs was used as a residence.

Two-story blue building with white-framed windows and doors

Circa, May 2022.

Then, in 1968, artist Ruth Mauk and her antique-dealer husband Vic reconstructed the building and opened the Village Barn Gallery here. The Beacon described the gallery, “The attractive new shop, in the lovely building which the Mauks developed from the old Wells Fargo barn, will exhibit oil paintings by Ruth, who also has a decorator’s career to her credit. Vic will offer some selected pieces of antique furniture and china, and a few fine old clocks, as well as a large collection of ancient oil lamps, for table and hanging, plus parts for lamps you already have. Just about finished now, [the barn] is considered a showpiece of exciting reconstruction, as well as a bright star in the field of re-design. Every last little piece of the old barn was saved and reused, and the main beam running through the first floor ceiling was originally part of the old Caspar Bridge. Their living quarters, on the second floor, include a fine studio for Ruth.”

More historical photos of Mendocino available in “Perley Maxwell’s Mendocino,” by Bruce Levene. Includes the Mendocino High School Photography Students 2002 Then & Now Project. $25.