The past and the present meet at the Ford House. Located on Main Street, but with a breathtaking view over the headlands to the Pacific, the house was built by Jerome Ford for his wife Martha in 1854. Mr. Ford was drawn to the area in 1851, in the hopes of rescuing some of the exotic cargo from the wreck of the Frolic. He did not find the Chinese silks and gold jewelry he was expecting, but he did find the towering redwoods for which Mendocino is still known. Mr. Ford founded the first sawmill and lumber company in Mendocino, where it is still an important industry. Mendocino redwood rebuilt much of San Francisco after the catastrophic Great Quake of 1906.
Mr. and Mrs. Ford lived in this lovely home with their six children. Today, their house serves as the official Visitor Center for the village of Mendocino, as well as a gateway to the Mendocino Headlands State Park, preserved lands along the oceanside bluffs that surround the village and extend into Big River, just south of the village. The headlands offer trails with stunning ocean vistas year-round, whether you’re watching the whales migrate in winter, escaping the heat in summer, or enjoying the drifts of wildflowers blooming in the spring.
The Ford House gives visitors a glimpse into what it was like to live in Mendocino in those long-ago days, including a detailed diorama of the town circa 1890, lovingly created by a local craftsman. It’s fun to see which buildings are still standing after more than a century.
The friendly docents are happy to share their knowledge of Mendocino past and present. You’ll find a good selection of brochures on location attractions, events, and lodging, as well as a charming gift shop so you can bring a little bit of Mendocino home with you.
The Ford House is located at 45035 Main Street in Mendocino. They are open every day of the year, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. There is no entrance fee, but the suggested donation is $2 per person or $5 per family. Call (707) 937-5397 for more information.