February 10, 1883 – James A. Severance passed away at the Navarro Ridge Hotel following a stroke just 5 days before his 47th birthday. The hotel was owned by his eldest brother Haskett, and James lived there with his brother’s family.

Historic buildings along a dirt road.

Buildings on Navarro Ridge, c. 1900. The Navarro Ridge Hotel is the two-story building on the right, and to its left is a short water tower topped by a windmill built by Henry McKenzie. A carriage with a horse team sits in the foreground, and men, women, and children pose for the camera. The building to the far right with a cupola on the roof may be the school. (Gift of William Mendosa)

Born in Maine in 1836, James arrived on the Mendocino Coast about 1860. From 1862 to 1866, he partnered with another Maine native, Benjamin Bailey, to run one of Mendocino’s earliest lodging establishments, the St. Nicholas Hotel. Situated on the northeast corner of Kasten and Main Streets (the location of Gallery Bookshop today), this hotel burned down during Mendocino’s largest fire in October 1870. The fire, believed to have originated in the St. Nicholas, was swept westward down the north side of Main Street by strong winds and burned more than 25 buildings between Kasten and Heeser Streets.

James was known on the Coast for his warm and friendly personality. For a number of years he ran a hotel and ranch in Pine Grove. He helped found the Mendocino Masonic Lodge, alongside Erick Albertson, William Heeser, James B. Rice, Silas Coombs, Richard Coombs, and Isaiah Stevens. At the time of his death, James worked as a teamster and lumberman.

Reverend Drum of the Mendocino Presbyterian Church officiated at James’ funeral, which drew a remarkable turnout. The funeral procession of 35 carriages and 17 horsemen made its way to the Little River Cemetery, where over 100 mourners attended the graveside services.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mendocino Historical Research Inc., now known as the Kelley House Museum. Meet founders Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins, who moved to Mendocino, fell in love with local history, then galvanized a community to establish a research center to preserve the town’s many stories and artifacts. On display are some of the earliest donations made to MHRI: census records from the 1860s, clothing from the Kelley family, the Ford family’s Bible, materials from Bear & Stebbins’ first exhibit “Mendocino Homes,” Anne Kendall Foote’s bespoke wallpaper reproductions, and photographs of the activists whose labor restored the house and whose contributions have supported the Kelley House over the years. 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino. Friday-Sunday, 11am – 3pm. Now until February 25.