March 3, 1930 – Mendocino School District voters approved a school bond of $18,500 to cover the cost of constructing a new grammar school on the northeast corner of School and Pine Streets. The first grammar school building on this property, built in 1885, had burned down just three months earlier. The vote required a two-thirds majority. There was little opposition, and the final vote was 176 For vs. 52 Against.

The bond amount, along with $4,750 collected from fire insurance on the old building, paid the total cost of construction. The architect for the new grammar school was Ivan Satterlee of Davis-Pearce Company in Stockton, California. Bids were sought for construction. Eight sealed proposals were opened in the office of Justice of the Peace William Shaw on May 6th. Contractor Carl Nelson of Stockton was the low bidder at $20,000 with a time for completion of 75 days.

Floor plan of a school showing an L-shaped building

Proposed Floor Plan of the Mendocino Grammar School, 1930. (Mendocino Beacon, March 1, 1930)

At the end of May, the Mendocino Beacon reported that Nelson had “a crew of men on the job digging trenches for the foundation and excavating for the pit for the furnace. A few piles of lumber have been hauled to the site and a truck from Fort Bragg has been hauling gravel this week.” Nelson used local carpenters for the construction work, and Windlinx Hardware Company of Fort Bragg installed the plumbing.

The Beacon kept readers informed of construction progress that summer. In June, “Three large trucks were busy Monday and Tuesday hauling gravel and sand from Little River beach to Mendocino to be used in the construction of a foundation for the new grammar school. This sand and gravel have excellent properties for cement work and there is a good demand for both.”

The new school building was dedicated on August 23, 1930, and classes began in the new structure on September 1st. Today, this building is the Community Center of Mendocino.

New Exhibit! Nathaniel Smith arrived in Mendocino County in the 1850s and is believed to be the first African American to settle on the coast. His life story is revealed through photos, clippings, and artifacts in this Kelley House Museum exhibit. 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino. Friday-Sunday, 11am – 3pm. Now until May 27.