Lumber Company Barn Burns Down

The Jerome B. Ford barn and Jersey cows east of Ford house on the bluff in Mendocino.  The Ford barn later became the Mendocino Lumber Co. barn. (Alice Earl Wilder, Alice Earl Wilder Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

July 11, 1936 – One of Mendocino’s oldest landmarks, the Mendocino Lumber Company Barn, was destroyed in a fire. Located south of the intersection of Lansing Street and the Old Coast Road, this 70-year-old structure had originally been constructed by Jerome B. Ford and had been used as a skating rink, dance hall, bull barn, bark mill, and storage shed.

The fire started around 10pm, and by the time the fire was discovered, the building was already engulfed in flames. The volunteer fire company responded, but when they arrived, there was nothing they could do except safeguard the adjoining properties.

Casimero Silvia had been using the building to store a small hay crop, which he had recently harvested, and Joe Quaill had several tons of hay stored there. Silvia also lost plows, harnesses, and other farming equipment. Quaill had been keeping his large truck in the barn but had taken it to his shop that day to get ready for an early morning trip.

The barn was constructed of high-quality materials. The floor was the best surfaced pine, and in early days the barn had been used as a skating rink and for dancing parties by Mendocino residents.

This wasn’t the first time the barn had been threatened by fire. In 1894, some boys went swimming on a nearby beach and started a fire. The flames got out of control but were put out before reaching the barn. In 1899, a home and shed on the property had been destroyed by a fire, but the barn once again was spared when several men stationed themselves on the barn’s roof and extinguished the sparks that fell there.

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