The Fort Bragg historical society's headquarters is located in the Guest House Museum. The Guest House was built primarily of coast redwood in 1892 by Tom Johnson, the superintendent of the Fort Bragg Redwood Company and brother of its founder C.R. Johnson , as his private residence. Before the house could be finished the company's founder, Charles Russell Johnson, directed the house become the lumber company's guest house for visiting senior officials from the San Francisco headquarters and VIP guest visitors to the Fort Bragg mill and logging sites.
The Guest House served as a show place for Union Lumber wood products. It was constructed from the finest old-growth redwood and Douglas fir and contained 67,000 board feet of lumber. Noteworthy are the ornate woodwork, decorative moldings, door and window trim, and the spool, spindle banisters of the staircase along with the stained glass windows above the stairway's first landing.
Originally the Guest House contained seven fireplaces, but the 1906 earthquake and installation of a more modern heating system has reduced that number to three. When first completed, all bedrooms in the house had hot and cold running water and every room except the kitchen had electric lights. There was a discreetly concealed wet bar on the first floor and a large billiard room on the third floor (not open to the public) where male guests could smoke and schmooze in private. It also features a westerly facing sun porch that overlooked the pacific Ocean, the mill site and shipping harbor maintained by the lumber company.
The Fort Bragg Redwood Company became Union Lumber Company in 1905 and the Guest House continued in its role until Union Lumber Company was sold to Boise-Cascade Corporation, and in turn was sold to Georgia-Pacific Corp. At this time G-P used the home as a specialty boutique for there department store Sea Fair then as a museum.
The home was donated to the City of Fort Bragg 1985. The purpose of this donation, as outlined in the agreement between the City of Fort Bragg and Georgia Pacific Corporation, was “ to insure the continued use of the Guest House as a museum for the Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, community…” In 1999, the City was searching for cost cutting alternatives to running the museum itself.
The Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Historical Society was formed by a small group of concerned citizens interested in preserving local history and, by assuming responsibility for running the Guest House museum, helping the City fulfill its agreement with Georgia Pacific.