Indeed, the Museum is temporarily closed, and our walking tours are parked for the time being. Even the traditional July the Fourth Lawn Party has been cancelled because of the precautions related to the pandemic. But there are still things happening at the Kelley House.
If you walk or drive down Main or Albion street in Mendocino, you will no doubt notice that the lovely old home on the hill is looking better than ever. Saved from almost certain demolition in the mid-1970s, the 1861-built family house of William Kelley today is a testament of hard work and persistence by the community and the non-profit organization who have developed and cared for it as a crucial civic resource for almost 50 years.
Last autumn the two-story house-museum received a very thorough paint job, carried out by CY Painting, which brought out its charming original architectural details and sealed its old wood from the elements. Then just this April, Redwood Roofers completed the much-needed roof replacement project, including historic copper flashing along the roof edges.
None of these important historic preservation efforts could have happened without the generosity of local people. First, we are ever-grateful to the Jack and Chatter Bishoff Fund of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County for its continuing support, and especially for the grant that covered almost 75 percent of the extensive roof project.
Supporters of the Kelley House Museum contributed significantly to these capital improvement costs, led by a major gift from President Sarah Nathe, as well as other Board members including Ian Roth, Jane Tillis, Megan Smith, and former members Steven Smith and Tonia Hurst. Other Building Fund donors included The Rotary Club of Mendocino, Robert Becker, Sydney Evans, Ann Zollinger, Deidre Lamb, Jamie Armstrong, Barry Cusick, Alida Morzenti, Frances Casey, Deena and Mark Zarlin, Nancy Atkinson, Phil Carnahan, Katy Tahja, Marion Bush, Bill Brazill, Janice Wooten, Patrice Wagner, Sarah Glaubman, Jeff Kan Lee, Nancy Atkinson, Eileen Wolfe, and Sallie Werson. Thank you!
Speaking of gifts, we have just received funds to print an innovative walking tour brochure, based on our popular “South of Main” exhibit. Again, we have the Community Foundation to thank for this, with the support coming this time through their Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund. The brochure will be designed by volunteer Janet Ashford and will lead curious people on a walk-through-time down the south side of Main Street, revealing historic views of long-gone buildings using QR codes read with their phone or tablet. This method of combining digital display with on-site travel will bring a richer perspective to your walk along the Mendocino Headlands and Main Street. Look for it this summer!
The next exhibit under our 2020 theme, “BUILDING MENDOCINO,” is proceeding as we create the all-digital exhibit, “Hammer in Hand,” coming soon to a screen near you. Like our other two digital creations published during the last year, it will be available at no cost on our website. The topic this time is an exploration of the people who actually built the historic structures of Mendocino. It will celebrate 10 of the many architects, builders and carpenters whose handiwork we experience today. Lots of vintage photos will be accompanied by new research on the “who” and the “how” that built the town. A shout-out to volunteer and new board member Carol Dominy for her amazing research skills in helping pull this together.
More gifts came our way recently from John Maulbetsch, who brought us a bin containing papers and photos that belonged to his late wife, Rosemary Kelley Maulbetsch. (Rosemary was the great granddaughter of William Kelley, one of Mendocino’s earliest pioneers and builders.) Among the many intriguing items is a hand-written family tree for his wife, Eliza, going back centuries to Wales, and a four-page love letter on still-bright yellow paper dated 1836. The slanted, quill-pen handwriting is excruciating to read, but eventually we will transcribe it and puzzle out who it’s from and why it was saved. If anyone would like to help us with this, let us know. We can send you a scan of it to work on.
Like everyone else in these rapidly shifting times, we are utilizing alternative ways to accomplish our mission, such as people assisting us from their homes instead of coming into the Research Office. And while you cannot at present come to the Museum to learn about the Coast’s history, you can explore it at home using our online collections and digital exhibits. We are always adding content, including historic photos sent to us from people around the globe. Original research continues, revealing more connections and a deeper understanding of Mendocino’s place in the world, and we share that with you in these articles as well as with more in-depth booklets available at our online store.