2020 Lighthouse Lecture Series

A big Lighthouse Thank You to Kitty Wolfe for putting together the fantastic 2019 Lecture Series slate of presenters and for coming up another stellar line up for 2020!  Topics will be added as the presenters provide their information.

Please note that due to the COVID-19 situation we have cancelled the lectures scheduled for March through June.  Kitty will be working with the presenters to re-schedule later in the year.  

Saturday, January 18 – Marlene “The Elusive Rutabaga” Padilla on A Solo Adventure Down the California Coast Trail – Presented
Saturday, February 15 – Robin Joy Wellman on Siberia – The People, Their Traditions and Their Connections to Our Coast– Presented
Saturday, March 21 – Sara Bogard on Harbor Seals and other Inhabitants of the Point Arena Lighthouse and the Stornetta Public Lands – Cancelled
Saturday, April 18 – Scott Mercer on The Ecology of the Southern Sea Otter – Cancelled
Saturday, May 16  – Michael Combs on Logging Town – Gualala – Cancelled
Saturday, June 20  – Richard Sequest on Hell Ship or Angel of Mercy: The First Shipwreck at Pt. Arena – Cancelled
Saturday, July 18 – Katy Tahja on An Eclectic History of Mendocino County
Saturday, August 15 – Mark Hancock on 5 Years on the Light Station
Saturday, September 19 – Eric Wilder – Topic TBD
Saturday, October 17  – Scott Sewell on Point Arena and the Mendocino Coast: How to See and Shoot the Coastal Landscape
Saturday, November 21  – Lauren Sinnott – Topic TBD
Saturday, December 19 – Merita Whatley on Saving a Lighthouse and a Landscape

Spotlight On Our Next Lecture

The Saturday, June 20 at 5 p.m. lecture by Richard Sequest,  “Hell Ship or Angel of Mercy: The First Shipwreck at Pt. Arena” has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 Shelter in Place (SIP) order from Mendocino County, and out of concern for our staff and guests.   The desctiption of the lecture is below, and we will be adding a video that Richard planned to use in his presentation in the near future.

This presentation will review the history of the IL’mena, formerly the brig  Lydia out of Boston, highlighting  her role in the emergence of a global trading system which impacts our economy still today. In addition, we will review the status of Dr. Jim Allan’s search for  the IL’mena which many believe is  buried in the sand in the surf line on Manchester Beach.  The timeline of this ship will be reviewed and her story told through her involvement in  seven historic events:

  • Designation as the “Hell Ship” Lydia  (1804)
  • Rescue of the American Ship Boston (1805)
  • Relay of Lewis and Clark’s  Letter to Jefferson (1806)
  •  Rescue of the Russian Ship St. Nikolai (1810)
  •  Massacre of the Nicolenos (1814)
  • Service to the Russian American Company (1820)
  • A Local Connection – The Indians at the Ross Settlement (1820)

Richard will detail some of the  people involved in these events and the overall history of the IL’mena.  This will include:

John Jewitt

Chief Maquiinna

John Jewitt, who was a survivor of the ship Boston massacre in 1803 and was held captive by local natives for two years before being rescued by the Lydia in 1805.  He later  wrote a best seller of his experience.

Chief Maquiinna, who led the attack on the Boston and was Jewitt’s slave master during his captivity.  He was himself later held captive on the Lydia in a prisoner exchange for John Jewitt.

In 1805, anchored twelve miles from the Lewis and Clark encampment on the Columbia River, the Lydia received a request  from the explorers to relay a letter to Thomas Jefferson to let the president know they had reached the Pacific.

Purchased by the Russian American Company and renamed the IL’mena, the brig was a workhorse for the company until it went aground at Point Arena in 1820.

Over the past 10 years Richard Sequest has produced a number of documentary shorts on climate change and homelessness.   In 2012 he became involved in the bicentennial celebration of the founding of Fort Ross and produced a short film, “Grounded”,  on the loss of the Russian American Company brig IL’mena, the first shipwreck at Pt. Arena.

Future Lectures

On Saturday, July 18 at 5 p.m. Katy Tahja will present “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.

Where did the herds of white deer in the county come from? What connection does Miss America of 1925 have with Mendocino County? What is the second largest land dwelling mollusk on earth doing here locally?  What was Winston Churchill doing here in 1929?  History can be dry text full of facts or history can be interesting intriguing tidbits of information.  Local author and historian Katy Tahja does the second kind or writing, solving some of the history mysteries of Mendocino County in her book “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County.” The book covers 150 years, 1852-2002, of who, what, when, where, why and how along with engaging stories of county history you’ve never heard before.

Local historian and author Katy M. Tahja is part of a family that arrived in Mendocino County in 1883. A retired librarian she has been a docent at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino 12 years and has written several books of local history. She has several women in history she portrays in storytelling events and finds it a fun way to share history.  After retiring in 2018 after 28 years of work at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino she anticipated her newest project – writing a history of the county.

On Saturday, August 15 at 5 p.m. Point Arena Lighthouse Executive Director Mark Hancock will present “5 Years on the Light Station as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.

Mark became Executive Director of the Point Arena Light Station in August 2015 and he will share the highs and lows of the last five years.  Highs include the complete remodel of Assistant Keeper’s House 4, Keeper’s Apartment and Head Keeper’s House, the addition of Arena Mina as the feline Guest Relations Manager and Rodent Control Specialist, hiring Elyse Bailey as a Guide and watching her grow into her current role of Gift Store Manager AND fall in love with and marry Robert Chavez who was the main carpenter on the Assistant Keeper’s House 4 remodel.  He will talk about the wonderful visitors the Station gets from all over the state, country and the world, and share stories from guests that have a history with the Light Station.  The challenges of keeping this “stationary ship on the ocean” will be covered and how large maintenance projects such as painting the Fog Signal Building got funded and performed.  The lows will share the spotlight as well, such as the ever expanding sinkhole on the Gazebo peninsula that opened up in January 2019, the bluff erosion that required relocating over 500 feet of perimeter fencing and the failed electric line that put the water system and Coast Guard helipad out of commission for several days.

Photo by Peggy Berryhill

Mark has been coming to the Mendocino coast since he was 16 and fell in love with the area early on.  He worked at Pacific Bell early in his professional career where he met Laverne, his wife of now 35 years.  They lived in Benicia for 30+ years and raised their 3 daughters there, but spent many weekends and vacations on the coast.  During that time Mark worked at 2 software startups and Wells Fargo Internet.  He, Laverne and another partner formed Pivotal Business Solutions LLC (PBS), a consulting company specializing in Business Process Analysis and Redesign, software requirements, complex systems implementations, training development and delivery and software project management.  In 2000 they were able to buy a home in Gualala and in 2012 Mark and Laverne moved here full time.  While still working on PBS projects Mark became the Publicity Coordinator at Gualala Arts, where he formed many close and important relationships with the wonderful people who call this place home.  He looks forward to visits from his 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren and bringing them out to enjoy the Lighthouse.  He wishes he had this job 30 years ago.

On Saturday, October 17 at 4 p.m. Scott Sewell will present “Point Arena and the Mendocino Coast: How to See and Shoot the Coastal Landscape as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.

Scott Sewell is a photographer in love with the Pacific Coast, the High Sierra and Black and White photography. He is a fourth generation Californian whose grandfather was a forest ranger in the Central Sierra during the Great Depression. His mother, who grew up there, introduced him and his siblings to the natural beauty of the California mountains and coastline through years of family vacation travels. He has been hiking, riding and shooting both as an amateur and a professional for most of his life. His work is on sale at Point Arena Lighthouse and on his website. This presentation will detail the many facets of photographing the rugged and beautiful Northern California coastline, including:

  • Introduction: a fantastic and unique landscape
  • Shooting conditions and tools: the weather, sun, tides, waves and apps to gauge them
  • Where to shoot, how to get there and what to expect
  • Your Eye: the keys to good landscape photography
  • The Finished Product: how to improve your shots after you’ve taken them