You’ll feel as if you are back in those long-ago pioneer days when you step into the Kelley House. Though built by a wealthy man, the house has a homey feel, and the rooms are cozier than you might expect. The many tall windows take advantage of the scenery. Upstairs, you’ll find furniture and artifacts belonging to the Kelley family in their former bedrooms. Look for the daughters’ initials scratched into the glass of their bedroom window.
In addition to the permanent collection showcasing Mendocino’s past, there are special, rotating exhibits throughout the year, usually with a theme and often paired with a Sunday afternoon talk which complements or expands on the exhibit. Recent exhibits highlighted historic cookbooks, Victorian fashions, shipwrecks, and a fascinating collection of items found in Kelley House pond when it was drained and restored, including bottles, pipes, and small china dolls known as Frozen Charlottes. These dolls were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and depicted a young girl who refused to cover her ball gown with a coat when attending a New Year’s ball and did not arrive alive at the festivities. A rather curious choice for a child’s toy!