March 18, 1961 – The Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department burned one of the last remaining lumber company structures to the ground to practice their fire-fighting skills. The Freundt house sat on the Mendocino bluffs, on the south side of Main Street, overlooking Mendocino Bay. This house was built around 1855-56 by the Mendocino Lumber Company, and John Freundt, an early partner, lived there while keeping the company records.

Historic house on bluffs above bay

The John Freundt house on the Mendocino bluffs, south side of Main Street, overlooking Mendocino Bay. Chapman’s Point can be seen across the Bay.

After Freundt left Mendocino, Charles Denslow, the lumber company’s bookkeeper, and his family moved in. The house, which also served as Denslow’s office, became well known to employees of the lumber company as he issued their paychecks at the end of each month there.

Over the years, other families, including Charles & Kate Knight and Elmer & Claire Strauss, lived in this home. In 1947, the Freundt house was used as the location of Dr. Lew Ayers’ home in the movie “Johnny Belinda.”

By the summer of 1960, most of the company buildings on the south side of Main Street had been torn down due to their poor condition. In August 1960, the Freundt house was also slated for demolition, but by the next spring, the plans for the destruction of the building had changed. The Beacon reported that, “Mendocino’s Historic Main st., was filled with cars double parked from Lansing to Kasten streets late Saturday afternoon, the news having got around that the old company dwelling on the ocean bluff was to be burned under the direction of Mendocino’s Volunteer Fire Department. The fire was started several times, and then extinguished by the fire boys to test their firefighting methods. […] However, when the firemen ceased their efforts at fire-fighting, the blaze towered in to the sky and was visible for a good distance.”