Ford House – THEN and NOW

House in grassy field

A color image of the south entrance to the Jerome B. Ford House, located on Main Street in Mendocino, before restoration, c. 1975. Image was taken from the Mendocino Headlands looking north.

Of the many buildings the Mendocino Lumber Company owned on the south side of Main Street, the historic Ford House is the only one that remains. In April 1854, Ford returned to Connecticut to marry Martha Hayes, returning to Mendocino with his bride on July 4. During this time, Edwards C. Williams built the Ford House, also known as the Company House, to house the family of the Mendocino Lumber Company superintendent. The kitchen and dining room were originally in the basement. In the 1860’s, Ford added the east wing putting the kitchen and dining room on the ground floor. The Ford family lived here until 1872, when they moved to Oakland. The house was then occupied by Williams and then by Ford’s son, Jerome Chester Ford, until 1902.

House in grassy field
Ford House, July 2022.

In 1972-73, California State Parks acquired the Mendocino Headlands, including the Ford House. The house was restored in 1978-1979. The July 13, 1978, Kelley House column in the Mendocino Beacon described, “a recent conversation with Mr. Robert Davis who is in charge of historic restoration for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Davis pointed out to us the extensive foundation and basement work. When old brick piers were being removed one was so deep in the ground that it was finally cut off at five feet. A spring runs under the original west section of the house, so a pump will be installed in the basement. This small room was the kitchen and dining room before the east wing was added. Mr. Davis speculates that the Main Street entrance became the front face at a later date, after the road on the bay side was abandoned; and that the front of the house in the first place faced the bay. He showed us the original siding of the east wing, under the present siding, on the south side. It was the same as on the Kelley House south face: tongue and groove as well as lapped to withstand the severe winter storms that came from the south.”

Today, the Ford House serves as the Visitor Center for the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

Mendocino Book Two by Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins – Meet the Ford family, founders of Mendocino. Learn about Henry Meiggs and the Mendocino Lumber Company and years of early local history. $19.