By Mary Webb
Photography by Brian Camp
Weller House Inn is located in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, a section of Northern California coastline with spectacular beauty and ocean views. It’s a cozy coastal experience for travelers looking to take in some breath taking sights, experience some new activities, or take a reprieve from inland summer weather.
So if you are looking for a destination to just hang out and soak up the coastal beauty, The Weller House is a good place to start. Owned and operated by Vivien LaMothe, the Weller House was built in 1886. Weller House holds the distinction of being the third home built in the immediate Fort Bragg area. This inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been fully restored to its Victorian architecture.
This inn offers nine thoughtfully decorated suites for wayward travelers to enjoy the climatic culture of the northern California coastline. In addition to the seven suites in the main house, you’ll find two more suite options in an adjacent historical water tower called the Abalone Tower; so named for the abundance of Red Abalone that comprise the coastal waters off of Mendocino County.
The Abalone Tower features the Heather and Raven rooms. At the Abalone tower, guests will have a short ascent up the tower stairs to discover the highest point of Fort Bragg. These rooms are available for the night, weekend or for extended periods as well. We enjoyed the panoramic view of the ocean and the charming, colorful-historic homes that dot the town.
On one occasion, we were pleasantly surprised to be sipping our coffee and hear the Skunk Train roll through town. The Skunk Train had its beginnings as a logging transporter for the Mendocino redwood logging industry in the early days. Today the train offers passenger transportation and train-events to entertain you. It was so fun to see enthusiastic train passengers wave to us as we were perched at the top of the Abalone Tower. And it was at this vantage point we were also able to view the little brown house on the corner across the street which was rumored to have been a wedding gift from Mr. Weller to his child.
We enjoyed our Midsummer room on the second floor of the main house. The room was fittingly named as it was fresh as a midsummer day upon entering the suite. You may appreciate the little touches, such as floral bouquets in the sitting area and crisp, white linen curtains adorning the windows. This room has a claw foot tub in the bathroom. Other rooms have claw foot tubs as well, and all rooms come with a full bath. Some rooms are available with fire places that come in handy during the winter season.
No matter the occasion for your visit to the Weller House, you will find the perfect room for you. Honeymooners may want to stay in the Aqua room with a Jacuzzi whirl-pool bath for two, or perhaps the Lotus room with its Asian-inspired motifs and fixtures to gear you up for an evening of Thai food in town.
Ms. Vivien is constantly adding unique furniture pieces, linens and curtains to the suites; such as a rotating martini table she recently added to one of the Abalone Tower rooms. We were impressed with the enthusiasm Vivien has for the inn, and the ideas she continually implements to inspire her guests.
A cool coastal breeze stirred our taste buds as we dressed for an evening of appetizers on the town. We took a walk and found a pub called Piaci Pub and Pizzeria. It was packed inside and we enjoyed some nice stuffed mushrooms and a glass of Sangiovese. It was a nice way to acclimate ourselves to the friendly, quaint town of Fort Bragg. We didn’t stay out too late, as our delectable breakfast would be ready at 9:00 the next morning.
Breakfast is vital to any adventurous day, and we were greeted by Vivien and fresh coffee near the kitchen. We loved how Vivien incorporates organic ingredients in her breakfast at the inn. She uses fresh, local ingredients from local vendors to provision the kitchen. The fresh bread we browned in the toaster was from a local baker. I spread on grapefruit compote that Vivien made herself, and it was divine!
Keeping with the strategy of using fresh food, the hens Vivien recently acquired are now producing eggs, and Vivien will prepare them for you any style you fancy. We chose scrambled eggs and while we waited, Vivien presented us with fresh baked scones.
Guests often enjoy nearby Glass Beach and we enjoyed the vase collection at the Weller House that were procured from there. Original blue glass from the beach sets the stage for the heirloom sweet peas that adorn the vases and the yard at the inn. For any of you who have been to Glass Beach, you know what a treasure it is to find a vase in its entirety. However, Glass Beach is now a State Park and the glass must remain on the beach, making it all the more special to view at the inn.
All dressed and ready to go, we headed for the Cabrillo Light House , located about nine miles south of the Weller House Inn. We couldn’t have picked a better day to visit the Cabrillo Light House, as there was a tour taking place. At the entrance, we were greeted by folks from the Coast Guard Auxiliary who were passionate to share the history and charm of Point Cabrillo.
There are three levels of the lighthouse, and each level offers an historical prospective. The lighthouse is 102 years old with the original lens still in operation. Before electricity, the lighthouse was run on kerosene. Lighthouse keepers needed to man the lens around the clock in these days, so little cottages were constructed to house the workers along the bordered path to the light house. The history and views from the top of Point Cabrillo are outstanding. This lighthouse is one you need to make a point of seeing when you come and visit the Weller House Inn.
Fort Bragg offered a ton of sun and vistas for this writer. And we were glad we chose this dazzling day to visit the Mendocino-Coast Botanical Gardens. The gardens boast a multitude of seasonal flowers. With a bottle of water and garden maps in hand, we set out to view the flowers that were in full bloom for August-October. After taking the garden trail to the cliffs along the ocean, we made our way back to discover heritage roses, fuchsias and cactus. These were all delightful, but my favorite was the Dahlia garden, with the warm and cool colors of the color wheel, we were spinning with amazement to see them all! Flowers on the must see list when you visit the Weller House for the holidays include Late perennials, winter heathers, camellias, and wild mushrooms.
We enjoyed the intermittent garden statues along the way towards the little shop near the entrance; not only are you able to buy small plants that are found in the garden, but there are other trinkets such as stationary, wind chimes and books that are available for sale.
Speaking of books, there are plenty of them at the Weller House. Strategic book cases are fixed upon several walls throughout the inn, filled with wonderful vintage books. Grab a blanket, book and cranny and escape to another world at the Weller House.
We decided to enjoy a book up in the dance hall and it was our good fortune to discover the evening pairing of wine and cheese that Vivien presents to her guests out in the foray. Settling in upon a collection of essays by Montaigne and a glass of Merlot, I found a delightful spot on a window seat and enjoyed the relaxation after a long day of sampling Fort Bragg activities.
As I enjoyed the cheese and crackers, the redwood dance floor was speaking to me and I had to answer it! A piano caught my eye in the corner of the dance hall and I shimmied my way over to the keys; alas, all I had in my fingers were Chop Sticks and the theme to Bat Man.
But there is hope for good music, especially in 2012. The Weller house is going to celebrate 124 years of the Inn’s existence by counting down the decades! It all starts in January, on the last Saturday evening of the month from 8:00-11:00 PM. Dancing and food from that designated decade will be played to represent the time periods. If you need a little leg up before the event, you can participate in one of the dance classes being offered right before the occasion from 7:00-8:00 in the evening to help polish up your moves.
Throughout the year, this great dance hall also hosts a wide range of events. In keeping with the spirit of Mr. Weller, the dance hall is once again used as a community center. Vivien offers the use of her dance hall for Tango events, Pilates, Yoga and Spanish/English Learners Club, to name a few. There are annual events that take place as well, one in particular is the annual Fort Bragg garden club; the Weller house works with the club to put on their annual tea for the award winning entry.
You will be well-rested in this great Victorian Weller House Inn. With several bike events and garden activities in Mendocino County, you will be refreshed and inspired. Yes, do bring your bikes when you come to visit the Weller House. With virtually no traffic up along Stewart Street, you will enjoy riding your bike to Glass Beach or anywhere in between. Stop to have lunch at a cafe in town or just park along the wooden trestle for a quick drink of the sun.
In keeping with the quote I read in the essays by Montaigne, “Love is an effort to form a friendship inspired by beauty.” The Weller House Inn is the perfect place to meet new friends along ocean cliffs and garden strolls, and love is evident among the whispers in the redwood dance floor and the cool breeze from the north.
For directions and a complete listing of rooms, prices and availability: http://www.wellerhouse.com/