Wednesday, March 29, 2023

This Day in MendoHistory: July 16, 1921- Mendocino County’s First Catholic Church Dismantled


In collaboration with Mendocino’s Kelley House Museum, MendoFever will be publishing their “This Day in Mendocino History” Facebook posts. The Kelley House Museum works hard to document and curate Mendocino County’s rich history and can be visited in the seaside town of Mendocino.

Photo: St. Vincent’s Church in Mendocino. View is looking northeast up Lansing Street. Next to the church and to the right is the home of Daniel Milliken, an early lumber contractor, which was demolished in 1946. To the right of that is the Spencer Hills House. Image taken from a stereopticon card. (Alice Earl Wilder, Alice Earl Wilder Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

On this day in Mendocino history…

July 16, 1921 – Work began to dismantle Saint Vincent’s, the first Catholic Church building in Mendocino County. Located on Little Lake Road, the church site is now part of Hillcrest Cemetery, and a tall white cross marks the approximate place where the building once stood.

The church building had a long history in Mendocino. In 1864, Bishop Eugene O’Connell sent Father Osuna from Marysville to count the number of Catholics living here. He found 20. Bishop O’Connell then sent Franciscan Father Sheehan to establish a church. In October 1865, Captain David F. Lansing and his wife sold the church lot to O’Connell for $150. The 64 by 32 foot church building was completed later that year at a cost of $2,500, a comparatively large sum at that time.

In May 1879, the steeple of the Catholic church was raised. This steeple became a well-known landmark for mariners, one that was visible for miles along the coast.

By 1902, the church was badly in need of repair. H. McKenzie and John Staudacher of Mendocino added a new foundation, and the building continued to be used for Sunday School classes after a new church was constructed on the west side of Lansing Street in 1905.

In 1911, the steeple was blown down in strong winds, and in 1921, the building was found to be too dilapidated to restore. Despite some resistance from the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey which had used the structure as a landmark for many years, Charles Boyle was allowed to tear the building down.

𝘞𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘛𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘔𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘰 – 𝘑𝘰𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘺. 𝘠𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴 𝘣𝘺 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴, 𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘮𝘦𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘱 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘰 𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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