Local Museums

After getting your fill of hikes, bikes, kayaks, canoes, walks, beaches and shops, consider moving indoors and checking out the Coast’s local museums.

Ford House Visitor Center

Constructed in 1854 for Jerome and Martha Ford, this home today houses a visitor center for Mendocino Headlands State Park. The museum features models of vessels which once plied coastal waters, carrying lumber, passengers and other essentials to those who made their homes on the North Coast. It also features an elaborate model of the town of Mendocino in 1890. In 1851, Jerome Ford came to the area to search for the wreck of the Baltimore Brig Frolic, and to assess whether or not it was worth salvaging its cargo. Even though the Frolic was a loss, Ford spotted the real treasure: Coast Redwood trees. Upon his return to San Francisco, he mentioned the trees to an entrepeneur, Henry Meiggs, who ordered a sawmill from the East Coast and purchased a ship (the Ontario) to carry it north. Jerome Ford, a partner in the business venture, drove cattle overland up the Mendocino Coast, and arrived in Mendocino on 17 June 1852. Ford staked out lands around present day Mendocino, sharing the land with a shipwrecked sailor, William Kasten, who claimed squatter’s rights. Of course, you know the rest: the area’s virgin redwoods were heavily logged. The mill at Big River yielded 1 billion board-feet of timber during its 50-year tenture. almost all of which was used to first build San Francisco, and then again to rebuild it after the Great Eartquake and Fire in 1906.

Kelley House Museum

The Kelley House was built by William H. Kelley in 1861. His reason for coming to California was the discovery of gold, so in 1850 he set sail for San Francisco. Not liking the sprawling, congested city, he went up the Sacramento River to Benecia, where he found work as a ship builder. William Kelley actually arrived in Mendocino on July 19, 1852, on a ship that brought the mill building and equipment to Mendocino Bay. He signed on as the ship’s carpenter of the brig Ontario. Kelley operated retail businesses in Mendocino and also became part owner in the mill operation. His dedication to local charities and drive to develop the town has earned him a title as one of the founding fathers of the village.

The Kelley House Museum has a great collection of archives, which includes an outstanding collection of 1800’s photographs of historic houses and buildings in Mendocino, family portraits and family heritage. The Kelley House also produces historical publications and stages exhibits. These exhibits are changed periodically. The museum is open for tours and rental of audio historic walking tours, and hosts guided, historic walking tours around Mendocino.
The Kelley House is located at 45007 Albion Street, P.O. Box 922, Mendocino, California 95460, (707) 937-5791.

Guest House Museum

A striking, three-story Victorian structure in the heart of Fort Bragg. Built in 1892, it was originally the private residence of Tom Johnson, Superintendent of Fort Bragg Redwood Company. The home was donated tot he City of Fort Bragg in 1985 and currently houses the Fort-Bragg Mendocino Coast Historical Society. The museum is open for tours and during summer months, conducts historic walking tours. 343 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, California,  707-9764-4251

The Temple of Kwan Tai

Dedicated to the Chinese god of war – a Taoist symbol of integrity and loyalty – the Temple of Kwan Tai offers living evidence of Mendocino’s 19th Century Chinese community.

Four generations of its founders’ descendants have preserved this original Taoist temple, a site now recognized as California Registered Historic Landmark No. 927.

The Temple of Kwan Tai was restored and rededicated in October 2001 through the efforts of the Hee Family, the Temple Trustees, Mendocino youth involved in the North Coast Rural Challenge Network, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the California Coastal Resources Agency. Its mission is to teach and celebrate community and diversity.

Visitors may view the Temple of Kwan Tai at 45160 Albion Street in the National Historic Preservation District of Mendocino. Tours are offered by appointment.

Triangle Tattoo Museum for “Art with a Pulse”, 356 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, 964-8814.

Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino CoastMendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, has been updated in 2017 as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

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