On this day in Mendocino history…

February 18, 1972 – Lee Burleson assumed management of Gallery Fair, located on the southwest corner of Ukiah and Kasten Streets. Lee had arrived in Mendocino the year before as the bride of Postmaster Don Burleson. She had previously worked as a technical illustrator for Union Carbide in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and was also a financially successful ceramist and photographer in her spare time.

The Gallery Fair building was constructed in 1878 as the first Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino. In 1964, the owner, Spartan 4-H Club, had leased the property to Warren Zimmer, who remodeled the historic building and operated a gallery and frame shop on the property. Warren continued to mat and frame pictures in his frame shop, while Lee was brought in to manage the gallery.

Historic Building and Water Tower viewed thru tree limbs

Gallery Fair and Frame Shop, c. 1971. South elevation of “Gallery Fair” at the Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino, located on the corner of Ukiah and Kasten Streets. The Heeser water tower can be seen on the right. The small building on Kasten Street in the foreground was used as its frame shop. (Photographer: Bill Foote, Gift of Bruce Levene)

The Beacon reported that Gallery Fair displayed, “the work of artists and craftsmen in a wide variety of media: oils, miniatures, seascapes, acrylics, watercolors, prints, drawings, metal sculpture, stitchery, weaving, collages, string pictures, stained glass, driftwood sculpture and jewelry, gold and silver jewelry, mobiles, wood and leather boxes, and photography, both color and black-and-white. Gallery Fair will continue to accept commissions for portraits by Blessing LeMohn.”

Mildred Benioff and Margaret Nagtegaal also operated the Yarn Guild on the first floor, where they sold “imported and domestic wools, hand-spun yarns, acrylics in new, exciting colors for handsome garments.” Mildred Benioff had a background in business education, had previously had a career at the California Institute of Technology, and had been active in Mendocino community affairs for many years. Margaret was an experienced commercial art educator, kitchen and interior designer, and draftsman.

The Mendocino Historical Research Center (predecessor of the Kelley House Museum) occupied part of the second floor. Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins “immersed themselves in the task of gathering information about the individuals and families prominent in Mendocino’s history, and in the homes they built which give the town its distinctive flavor. On display will be old pictures, diaries and letters, together with current color pictures taken by Beth Stebbins.”

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.