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This Day in MendoHistory: September 1, 1941- The Occidental Hotel Burns to the Ground


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: Fire at the Occidental Hotel, 1941. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

September 1, 1941 – Mendocino lost one of its landmarks when the Occidental Hotel, located at the junction of Lansing and Main Streets, burned down. The fire was caused by a defective flue which ignited a wall in the early morning hours. The owner of the hotel, Kate Gorman, immediately called out to her grandson Cletus Byrnes and began waking her guests. It was Labor Day weekend, and every room in the hotel was full.

When Cletus couldn’t put out the flames on his own, he ran to the fire house just north on Lansing Street to get the chemical fire engine. Meanwhile, the nighttime telephone operator called Charley Tyrell, who joined Cletus at the fire house to help with the chemical engine and sound the fire alarm. In the few minutes it took to get the engine to the hotel, the attic had begun burning fiercely. By this time, all guests had been evacuated, and volunteers began rescuing furniture from the first floor.

When it became clear that the hotel couldn’t be saved, men with buckets worked to protect the roof of the old Kelley store building on the northwest corner of Lansing and Main Streets. That building was threatened by heat from the fire raging diagonally across the intersection and wind blowing hot embers onto the roof. The Fort Bragg Fire Department sent a water pumper, and the Kelley building was saved with water from the hydrants at the Masonic Hall.

The Occidental Hotel was never rebuilt.

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘝𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘳𝘴: 𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘰 𝘝𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘳 𝘍𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘋𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘣𝘺 𝘞𝘢𝘭𝘵 𝘔𝘤𝘒𝘦𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘢 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘴𝘰𝘯 – 𝘙𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 1870, 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘪𝘤 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘵 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 1887 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘥𝘢𝘺. $15. 



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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Educator🔸Reporter for KMUD/ Redheaded Blackbelt/Founder of Cold Case Mendocino🔹Local News Junkie

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