Making History Blog

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, [...]

Hellsgate Dam Demolished

By |2024-04-29T09:53:56-07:00April 29, 2024|

April 29, 1950 - The Mendocino Beacon reported that the Union Lumber Company had demolished Hellsgate Dam on the Southfork of Big River. This dam, which was used for logging operations from 1913 until 1937, was located about 40 miles upstream from Mendocino. Undated photo of Hellsgate Dam. Hellsgate Logging Camp can be seen in the background. (Gift of Emery Escola) In his 1991 [...]

If These Walls Could Talk

By |2024-04-23T14:15:10-07:00April 25, 2024|

These two photographs, taken about 50 years apart, show the Seagull Inn Bed & Breakfast on Albion Street between Lansing and Howard streets in Mendocino. The building began as a family residence, constructed by Mendocino pioneer George Switzer in 1878. Born in Ontario, Canada in 1839 to Christopher and Margaret (Buck) Switzer, George was raised on the family’s farm. He left for California at the age [...]

Go to Top