June 3, 1935 – Former resident Roland Smith died in Sacramento. Roland had first arrived in Mendocino as a traveling evangelist in 1921. At the time, he was visiting towns all over the state, driven by a deep desire to share the old-time Gospel with people across California. In June 1921, Roland held a series of nondenominational revival meetings at the Kelley Baptist Church (where Corners of the Mouth is located today). Announcements for the service emphasized that everyone was welcome, and no money was collected from attendees.

A man and young girl stand in a fenced garden

Rev. Smith’s Dahlias, 1922 – 1924. A man and young girl stand in a fenced garden on the southeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets, surrounded by large-flowering plants. The inscription at the bottom says, “R. Smith’s Dahlias. Mendocino.” The north side of Gospel Hall can be seen on the far right of this photo. In the 1960s and 1970s, this structure housed the Sea Gull Restaurant and its Cellar Bar, until the building burned down in 1976. The house behind Gospel Hall is the Stauer House, and the water tower in the background to the right was associated with it. Across the street and on the left, the distinctly decorative roofs of J. D. Johnson’s mirror-twin rental houses are visible. The Bowman House is seen in the middle background, located on the northeast corner of Ukiah and Howard Streets. (Gift of Karen McGrath)

A few months later, Roland returned to Mendocino, accompanied by his family. He held weekly services throughout the winter, and the following spring, he purchased the Stauer House (today’s Frankie’s Pizza) on the southeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets. Perley Maxwell, assisted by John Burbeck and Albert Gregory, constructed a hall for Roland’s religious services on the western end of the property near Lansing Street. This building, known as Gospel Hall, opened on November 5, 1922.

Roland was also an entrepreneur. In 1924, he joined forces with W. S. Gilbert and John Burbeck to transform an old livery barn on Little Lake Street into a small box factory. This factory supplied merchants with boxes and crates for their businesses. The next year, Roland opened his own market on Lansing Street (where Anderson’s Alternatives is today). The Box Factory Market offered meat, eggs, vegetables, and other groceries. This innovative store introduced self-service grocery shopping to the town – patrons selected their own items and paid a cashier.

Although Roland had a significant impact on Mendocino, his time in town was relatively short. In 1926, the Smith family left for Sacramento where Roland and his wife established the Sacramento Bible House.

Second Saturday Mendocino: Water Tower Wonderland – Celebrate the exhibit opening on Second Saturday, June 10. 4-5pm: Kelley House members will enjoy a private preview and reception. 5-7pm: General public invited for refreshments and cookies as part of the local art walk. Quench your thirst and satisfy your curiosity about water towers during Mendocino’s Second Saturday Art Walk. Enjoy refreshments at the launch of the exhibit “Water Tower Wonderland” which celebrates the artistry and ingenuity of these iconic structures. On display will be renderings of Mendocino water towers in several media, with serigraphs by Anne Kendall Foote and Bill Zacha, a quilt square by Dee Goodrich, and a woodcut by Emmy Lou Packard.