These two images, taken 75 years apart, show the Vieira House on the northeast corner of Ukiah and Williams streets. Constructed in 1908 by Constantine Silveira for his cousin Amelia Lemos and her soon-to-be husband Joe Vieira, this cottage served as their home for more than 20 years.
After the Vieira family moved to their ranch on Comptche-Ukiah Road, this property became a rental for a short time. In 1936, John and Lois Silvera moved into the house and raised their family here. Ronald and Orlyn Wood purchased the home from Lois in 1967; their granddaughter currently owns the property.
From October 1969 to December 1986, the Vieira House was the residence of Kelley House Museum founders, Beth Stebbins and Dorothy Bear. In a Kelley House Calendar printed in the February 27, 1992 issue of the Mendocino Beacon, Dorothy recounted how these two Southern California retirees ended up living here: “We bought a trailer, hitched it onto our truck and for the next year made excursions into Arizona, into northern California and into Oregon, searching for the perfect place. Needless to say, Mendocino was our choice and we stopped on the way back down the coast and called at Roger Lovett’s real estate office.”
“We bought a lot on Airport Road and set up our trailer on the property. It was a nice lot, but before very long we concluded that what we really wanted was to live in the village of Mendocino.” The first house Roger showed them was the Vieira House. “It was just a block from the Art Center and was for rent, not for sale. We rented it, temporarily, and ended up living there for the next 17 years. The Doctors Wood (both Ronald and Orlyn were physicians) couldn’t have been better landlords.”
The Vieira House was perfectly positioned for Beth and Dorothy to immerse themselves in local history. “That house was built high on the lot and the view of people walking by was very good. Up the grade from west Ukiah Street a number of people walked to the Post Office every day. Joe Silva and Domingo Valador were regulars and they always stopped, coming back, at Miles Paoli’s place. Between the old Paoli Hotel and his home, Miles had somehow maneuvered a large squared-off timber, setting it as a bench in front of his fence. If he was sitting on the bench that was an invitation to stop and visit a while. His neighbor, Ernest (The Bear) Madeira, was often there and sometimes Bill Ferrill. All these old-timers graciously made room for us on the bench and let us question them endlessly about Mendocino’s history.”
“We liked to watch the foot traffic, both human and animal, passing by our house. Sidney Nagtegaal was a small low-slung dog, breed unknown, who made a daily run up town. He was always in a hurry. We seldom saw Jim Bertram’s dog Philip afoot, but when Jim drove his roadster, big Philip rode beside him sitting very upright, sniffing the breeze. The Whiteside brothers had a distinctive gait as they climbed the grade from their west end home to wherever they were going: school, Post Office, Mendosa’s, or elsewhere. They were tall boys and strode along briskly, a kind of long-legged lope it was. From our kitchen window we could watch Bill Zacha and his dog Pistone (Italian for what?) going up Williams Street to the Art Center of a morning. Una Mowat-Biggs and her sister, Mary Linley Taylor, lived in the block west of us, and Una sometimes stopped to rest at our house on her way home. Now and then the sisters invited people in for an evening of drama readings, and we were pleased to be asked. Such were our beginnings in Mendocino. It was a good neighborhood from which to begin the collecting of Mendocino history.”
The Kelley House Museum Archives include the building information and pioneer family histories that Dorothy collected, and Beth’s extensive building photographs. If you’d like to view these materials, make an appointment with the curator at email@example.com
The Kelley House Museum is open from 11AM to 3PM Friday through Sunday. If you have a question for the curator, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Kelley House regularly.