December 17, 1930 – Fire destroyed the laboratory in Dr. C. V. Whited’s dental office, located on the north side of Main Street in the building that currently houses the Mendocino Chocolate Company. Flames erupted around 2 pm, while no one was inside the building.
The dentist had been working in his office earlier in the afternoon, but had stepped across the street to the fire station, where he and Arthur Lemos were working on the fire engine. The two of them had just gone to the Mendocino Hotel to warm up by the stove, when the fire alarm sounded and they rushed back outside.
To Dr. Whited’s disbelief, a passerby informed him that his office was on fire. Rushing to the scene, he made two attempts to enter the building but was driven back by intense heat and smoke. On his third attempt, he was able to hose down the burning walls, while the volunteer fire department poured water on the roof dousing the flames.
The Beacon described the damage, “One of the neatest and best appointed dental offices north of the bay was pretty nearly a total wreck. All the doctor’s dental supplies, powder, pastes, filling material, teeth and many valuable tools were totally ruined. In the waiting room the paper hung in shreds from the ceiling where the water had run down from holes chopped in the roof. The floor was covered with broken glass, soot and water. Fortunately the front room containing the operating chair and electric drilling machine was barely touched by the flames, and his valuable X-ray machine was removed without damage.”
The office reopened three weeks later. “Dr. C. V. Whited’s dental office recently damaged by fire, has been entirely repaired and renovated. The work was done by Charles Whited [Dr. Whited’s father, who was a builder in Willits]. A number of improvements have been made and with new coats of paint and new paper, the office is brighter than it was before the fire. In fact, it would really be a pleasure to have a tooth pulled in there now.”
A Mendocino Remembrance, c. 1942. When Alvin Mendosa’s long-time friend Buddy Fraser passed away in 2018, Alvin received a copy of Buddy’s memoir of town life during World War II. Curated by former Kelley House director-curator Karen McGrath, this charming memoir brings to life the unique place that was the town of Mendocino, California before it became the artist colony and tourist destination for which it is well known today. During the 1940s, Mendocino was a quiet community of unpaved roads and Victorian-era architecture perched on bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. Fraser’s reminiscences are accompanied by vintage photographs from the Kelley House Museum archives paired with contemporary color images taken by photographer Jamie Armstrong, offering readers an enjoyable “Then and Now” view of Mendocino. $35