The Guest House Museum is Fort Bragg’s grande dame. Standing in all its Victorian splendor on a beautifully landscaped hill in the heart of the historic district, it is still the tallest building in town. And the house is still as impressive as when it was first built, in 1892.
Originally built by wealthy young lumber baron Charles Russell Johnson to house visiting executives and high profile guests as well as himself when he was in Fort Bragg instead of his San Francisco office, the house was a showplace of the Union Lumber Company’s wares. Built entirely of local wood, it was made of the best quality old growth redwood and Douglas fir that could be found. As you might expect, the moldings, trim, and millwork display expert craftsmanship. The house was also the first on the Mendocino Coast to be equipped with electricity, and there was hot and cold running water. Don’t miss the spectacular stained glass windows presiding over the staircase.
Today, the house serves as the headquarters for the Fort Bragg – Mendocino Coast Historical Society, filled with fascinating artifacts and information about the town’s past, from the native Pomo inhabitants to the pioneers and the growth of the logging and lumber industries that are still an important part of the local economy. The friendly docents are happy to share their knowledge and anecdotes about the house and local history.
Outside the house is a giant slice of a redwood tree thought to be largest to be cut down in Mendocino County. When it was cut, in 1943, the redwood was 1,800 years old and more than 300 feet tall. There is an interesting timeline spanning the tree slice to put history in perspective.
The Guest House is almost right next door to the world-famous Skunk Train, where you can take a trip back through time as you journey through ancient redwood forests on one of their vintage trains.
The Guest House Museum is located at 343 North Main Street in the heart of Fort Bragg’s historic downtown. Hours may vary, but are generally 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturdays. Call (707) 964-4251 to confirm hours. There is no admission fee, but donations are gladly accepted.