Making History Blog

The Mendocino Fire of 1870 by Molly Dwyer

By |2024-06-19T13:32:24-07:00June 20, 2024|

This is a slightly condensed version of an article originally printed in the Mendocino Beacon on March 7, 2013. On October 17, 1870, a fire broke out in Mendocino on the corner of Main and Kasten. It started about 3 a.m. in the Saint Nicholas Hotel, which stood where Gallery Books is today. Mendocino’s newspaper at the time, the Independent Dispatch, reported that the fire “spread [...]

Living Off the Land on the North Coast by Thad M. Van Bueren

By |2024-06-09T16:15:09-07:00June 13, 2024|

Excerpt from Mendocino Historical Review Vol. XXVI, Summer, 2012. “Belonging to Places: The Evolution of Coastal Communities and Landscapes between Ten Mile River and Cottoneva Creek.” The remoteness of the northern Mendocino County coast has for most of history demanded self-sufficiency of the people who have made their homes here. V. K. Chestnut and Edward Gifford discuss long lists of native plants harvested by indigenous peoples [...]

Russian Gulch Bridge Dedication

By |2024-06-09T13:21:14-07:00June 9, 2024|

June 9, 1940 - California Governor Culbert Olson and Secretary of State Paul Peek spoke at the dedication ceremony for the new bridge over Russian Gulch. Following the speeches by Governor Olson and Secretary Peek, the Governor’s party had the honor of being the first to drive across the newly constructed bridge. Other motorists waited three more weeks for construction to be completed. The bridge opened [...]

He Painted the Town

By |2024-06-04T14:24:49-07:00June 6, 2024|

When Kevin Milligan first saw Mendocino in June of 1997, he was taken by surprise. He had never been farther north in California than San Francisco and had no idea a place as quaint and beautiful could be found there. A working landscape painter, he was engaged in producing a collection of lithographs on the California Coast, but he was most familiar with Big Sur and [...]

Death of John Figaro

By |2024-06-02T14:53:34-07:00June 3, 2024|

John Figaro with his parents, Manuel and Mary, c. 1890. (Eleanor Sverko Collection) June 3, 1919 - John Figaro died in a New York hospital at the age of 32 after a short illness. At the time of his death, he was returning from his military service overseas. Born in Mendocino in 1887, John was the oldest child of Manuel and Mary (Maderia-Saudades) Figaro. [...]

What is He Doing to Her Hair?

By |2024-05-25T13:22:45-07:00May 30, 2024|

Mendocino Masonic Hall, c. 1960. These two photographs, taken about 65 years apart, show the Masonic Hall located on the northwest corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets in Mendocino. This historic structure, one of the oldest buildings still standing in town, was surveyed in May 1976 for the State Office of Historic Preservation by Kelley House Museum co-founder Beth Stebbins. The Mendocino Masonic Lodge, [...]

Dollard Post of the Grand Army of the Republic

By |2024-05-26T13:39:17-07:00May 27, 2024|

  Dollard Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, standing on Main Street in Mendocino on Decoration Day, 1883. (Gift of Emery Escola) The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), founded in Springfield, Illinois in 1866, was a fraternal organization of veterans who served in the Union armed forces during the Civil War. The first GAR Commander-in-Chief, General John A. Logan, called for [...]

Things That Go Bump in the Night by Rob Hawthorn

By |2024-05-22T17:02:25-07:00May 23, 2024|

Years ago, I interviewed a couple who lived up Albion Ridge. They wanted to share the story of their home, a small two-story hippy hovel, totally off the grid and self-sufficient, with a big vegetable garden and lots of chickens. The history I was interested in was more supernatural: I always want to know if a house has ghosts. As it happened, this couple’s house was [...]

Choose One, or the Other, or Both by Alexander Wood

By |2024-05-22T17:03:00-07:00May 9, 2024|

The Kelley House Museum’s current exhibit, Nathaniel Smith: Mendocino’s First African American Resident, was funded by a grant from California Humanities. The grant supported research by Alexander Wood into the life of Nathaniel Smith. Below is an excerpt from Wood’s paper on Smith’s arrival in, and the naming of, Cuffey’s Cove. Smith’s arrival on the Mendocino coast on a whaling ship with a Sausalito crew is [...]

Cabot Cove Lives Again

By |2024-05-04T09:02:55-07:00May 2, 2024|

Angela Lansbury wheels her bicycle past Mitch's Barber Shop on the northeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets, 1988. You can’t find Cabot Cove, Maine, on any map, but like Brigadoon, it comes back to life every now and then. This coming weekend is one of those times. The Kelley House’s first annual Murder, She Wrote Festival will celebrate the memory of Angela Lansbury, [...]

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