--by Diane LeBow, photography by John Montgomery
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Benbow Historic Inn, located three scenic hours north of San Francisco, in Southern Humboldt County (also known as “SOHUM”), in the heart of the giant redwoods, has recently joined the more than 250 hotels and resorts throughout the USA that the Historic Hotels of America recognize for “preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance.”
“We are delighted to induct Benbow Historic Inn, a Tudor style inn built in 1926 to Historic Hotels of America,” said Lawrence Horwitz, executive director of Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We welcome Benbow Historic Inn, John and Teresa Porter, Jack Macdonald and leadership team into Historic Hotels of America.”
Membership criteria for Historic Hotels of America include being at least 50 years old, having been designated as a National Historic Landmark, or recognized locally as having historic significance.
Designed by architect Albert Farr, who is best known for creating author Jack London’s Wolf House in Glen Ellen, California, the Benbow Historic Inn was built by the Benbow family and opened to the public in 1926. Its elegance and hospitality continue to provide a quiet retreat today as it has for the likes of Clark Gable, Joan Fontaine, Eleanor Roosevelt, and more recently the King of Jordan.
Experienced hoteliers, John and Teresa Porter and Jack Macdonald, purchased the Inn in 1994, and continue to upgrade and restore it with loving care along with its traditions of comfort and hospitality. They recently completed extensive renovations to all the guest rooms as well as the gorgeous terrace.
The lobby and guest rooms are furnished with antiques and include many personal touches along with modern comforts. A decanter of sherry welcomes you to your room while guests can enjoy afternoon tea and freshly baked scones in the cozy lobby that has a feel of Old English elegance.
In the spacious dining room, meals include such dishes as pernod prawns, duck confit, local steelhead trout, and scallops with volcano rice. Sumptuous desserts of Meyer lemon pie, chocolate Riesling poached pears, and Benbow bread pudding cap the dining experience. Chef and sous chef Dustin and Jennifer Vallance use locally grown produce, fresh seafood, and choice meats in their creative preparations. Occurring throughout the year, The Benbow Winemaker Dinners are special treats.
In fact, each season up at the Benbow offers its own charms: from winter holiday excitement and New Year’s Eve Dinner dance, to spring flowers, summer arts and music festivals on the Eel River, and leisurely walks surrounded by autumn colors. The Benbow’s scenic nine hole golf course, steelhead fishing, adjacent RV park, seasonal swimming pool, and complimentary bicycles are some additional pleasurable options. The neighboring Julia Morgan Historic Redwood Grove estate is open for tours which can be arranged via the Benbow Inn.
Local excursions into the surrounding Redwood Coast may include hikes among the giant coastal redwoods and visits to small Victorian towns. Just six miles north of the Benbow Inn is a 31 mile amazing drive along the Avenue of the Giants. These trees form their own lofty cathedrals as light filters through old growth groves down to the carpets of ferns and moss. Don’t miss the special Drive Through Tree.
Eureka and the Carson Mansion:
The Victorian seaport of Eureka is an easy day trip one hour north of the Benbow. Eureka began as a shipping center in the 1850’s during the gold rush and then prospered as logging became the new gold. Located on Humboldt Bay, Eureka’s well preserved Old Town offers the visitor nooks and crannies of charming shops, restaurants, galleries and special events such as the Arts Alive! Art walk on the first Saturday of each month. The crown jewel of the town was built by the town’s earliest residents, William Carson and his wife Sarah. Properity from his lumber mill resulted in the construction of the amazing Carson Mansion (1884-5), a three story, eighteen room structure. Its wide porches, ornamental pillars, gables, turrets, cupolas, and stained glass make the Carson Mansion one of the most photographed buildings in the world. The Mansion’s private Ingomar Club offers dining and special events to members and their guests.
Visit historic America while you relax in comfortable historic lodging and walk among the world’s tallest Redwoods: The Benbow Inn, South Humboldt County, California.
If you go:
Benbow Inn www.benbowinn.com
Humboldt County California's Redwood Coast www.redwoods.info/
Julia Morgan's Historic Redwood Grove estate: tour reservation 415-526-3180
Loose Caboose Cafe, Willits: fun local stop to eat en route
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