Of all the places I visited this summer, Victorian Ferndale was one of my favorites. Founded by the Shaw brothers in 1852 near the mouth of the Eel River, Ferndale is known for it’s well preserved Victorian storefronts and homes. Six historic buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in addition, the entire town is listed as a California Historical Landmark. Touring Ferndale, you get the sense that you have stepped back in time.

The Gazebo ~ An Eastlake-Stick Style building built in 1898 on Ferndale’s Main St.

Ferndale is sometimes referred to as “Cream City”. The number of cows in and around town outnumber the people. Many of the Victorian structures here were built in the 1800’s with the wealth created by the dairy industry, thus these buildings are sometimes called “Butterfat Palaces”. It’s Ferndale’s architecture and small town feel that drew me here. I love that you can walk down main street and duck into small family owned businesses to buy, well, just about anything. Each building, totally different than the next. I spent more than an hour in the mercantile alone. More than just a mercantile on the outside, the inside is filled with period items, specialty foods and vintage offerings. Alas in the end, I purchased a couple of candles and some chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

But really, it was what I found on the side streets that I loved.  Like the Gingerbread Mansion, built originally as the residence for the town doctor, it became the town hospital in the 1920s. It later became the American Legion Hall before being restored and turned into a private residence once again. Now a bed and breakfast, the Gingerbread mansion is one of Northern California’s most photographed buildings due to it’s historical and architectural legacy. I didn’t stay here when I was in town, but I plan to go back and check it out from the inside.

Ferndale’s Gingerbread Mansion

One of my very favorite buildings in town was the Ferndale Church of the Assumption. Maybe, it’s because it’s the tallest, most recognizable building in town or maybe it’s because they just don’t make churches that look like this anymore. The red doors caught my attention, so stark against the all white of the church.

Church of the Assumption

The auto shop on Main Street really caught my attention, and I struggle to understand why. It’s not that it’s not cool, but there are so many awesome places here that it strikes me funny that I really have a love of the garage. Maybe it’s the combination of the bright yellow tow truck and the vintage building. Maybe, it’s the combination of old school style and grungy working shop that strikes my fancy. Of course, it could be the funny name. In any case, it kinda had me hoping for car trouble. 🙂

Tipple Motors ~ Ferndale, CA

Now, one doesn’t usually visit a town with visiting a cemetery in mind, but for me visiting the cemetary was number one on my photography list. What I hadn’t planned on was that in addition to the Ferndale Cemetary (pictured at the top), there was a smaller cemetary that was just as cool. While you can see all of Ferndale from the top of the hill at the main cemetery, St. Mary’s Cemetery was quite a bit smaller and tucked away along the road. It felt old, but protected. Surrounded by the forest, it just seemed like something out of a movie. While I was there, I even saw a couple of deer nibbling at the trees.

St. Mary’s Cemetery

Ferndale for me was amazing, I love the old Victorian style. I guess it also reminds me of my mom, who loved all things Victorian. I guess you can say just being here captured me on an emotional level for that reason. If you are ever travelling along the northern California coast, be sure to stop in on Ferndale.  In my next post, I’ll give you some tips on where to stay and then maybe some cool side trips to take while you are there.


BTW ~ If Ferndale seems just a little familiar to you, it could be because it was the location for the movies The Majestic and Outbreak as well as a number of TV shows.

Check out the Ferndale Website and plan your visit!

Here’s a handy Map of the area.

To see more photos from my trip to Ferndale check out my Gallery.


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