Benbow Historic Inn Holding 21st Annual Charity Wine Auction to Benefit Clarke Historic Museum

Glasses of wine illustration

[Photo from the Benbow Inn website]

This is a press release from Benbow Historic Inn:

The Benbow Historic Inn proudly announces that the 21st Annual Charity Wine Auction will take place on Saturday, November 11, 2017. The event will take place at the Benbow from 2pm-6pm. This year’s gala event benefits the Clarke Historic Museum (Federal Tax ID 94-1651124), Humboldt County’s leader in preserving, acquiring and displaying the rich cultural heritage of our area. All proceeds will go towards supporting the Clarke and their efforts to bring rotating displays to Southern Humboldt for the enjoyment and education of residents for the first time. These displays will be housed in the newly completed East Wing of the Benbow Historic Inn and will benefit Southern Humboldt and Northern Mendocino students, teachers and history buffs and provide all of us the opportunity to explore our past right here in SoHum.

This wonderful fundraiser features both a silent and live auction with all proceeds being donated directly to the Clarke Historic Museum in order to support their efforts in preserving our cultural artifacts and heritage.

Some of the auction items are antiques and collectibles de-accessioned from The Clarke Museum collections. Items include: (gun) powder loaders, bisque dolls, Native American baskets from other areas, weathervane, ship-in-a bottle, glassware, and more. Auction items also include hotel stays, large-format wines, gift baskets, restaurant gift certificates, etc. the auctioneer is Rex Bohn. There will be at least 18 wineries pouring their new vintages plus some library wines. Heavy hors d’ oeuvres will be served from 2-4:30. The live auction begins at 5:00 pm.

Tickets are $25 each.



  • I’d love to go, but. . . . The last time I ventured to the Benbow Inn, I took one look at the stairs and found a bench to sit on. I have severe arthritis in my knees and back. My husband went up to the lobby and asked if there was an elevator. Not for non staff to use. We would have to use the entrance from the patio – up the hill and around the back. We climbed the hill having to stop several times. Dinner with my sister and her husband was OK. We then descended the hill back to our car – walking down hill is almost as bad as up. I continuously feel as though I am going to be propelled on down. I wrote the management and referred to the “Disabled persons act” and got a terse letter that they were working on it. That was 3 years ago and last I heard, it hasn’t changed.

    • In the spring of 2016 we began an $8.5 M expansion of the Benbow Historic Inn. The planning of this work actually took well over a decade due primarily to government regulations and our ability to construct a new building on the banks of the Eel River and other environmental issues. We will be opening our new addition we hope by the end of November and it will include the following:
      1. Lower checking lobby with new public restrooms and meeting room
      2. Elevator going from ground level to fourth floor of Inn
      3. New lobby level public restrooms and new meeting room
      4. Three new ADA guest room suites
      5. Seven new fourth floor guest rooms
      6. Two new kitchens and a new cocktail lounge
      7. And more

      A big driver of our expansion are for us to comply with the federal ADA laws and having an elevator will help all of our guests to get in and out of the building. Feel free to look at our web site to get updates on our construction.

      If anyone has any concerns they can contact me directly at or 707 923-2124 Ext. 180.

      Thank you.

      Kindest Regards,

      John E. Porter
      Managing Partner

      • Thank you John
        I was agonizing about the misinformation and misunderstanding of your situation.

        I personally know how hard you have worked to comply with all of rules, from the same agencies that stand in your way when you try to do something. Plus, there were a few disasters like the freeway bridge that diverted East Branch over, and undermined your building, that has a tendency to slow progress up considerably.

        I also want to thank you and Teresa for being such an asset, and positive force in our community. You have helped save the schools with your many fundraisers in the past, also the Hospice, the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and too many others to mention. And now, lastly but not leastly you are working to help save the Clarke Historic Museum.

        The Founder of the Clarke Museum, Cecile Clarke, was part of my history. ( taken from Find a grave dot com)
        Cecile Clarke was born in the Branscomb area of Mendocino County to Joseph Henry and Annie Fowzer Clarke who operated a 5,000 acre sheep ranch in Laytonville. She was eldest of six children, her five siblings were: Frank C., Belle, Annie (Mrs. Reilly), William Victor and May (Mrs. Curtis Monroe Winchester).

        Home schooled by her father through grade school, Cecile graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a history major and chose a profession as a teacher. Miss Clarke taught at Eureka High School from 1915 until her retirement in 1950. Although she was known as a strict teacher she was also known to have slid down the banisters!
        Our families are woven together in many places.

        I know there are some things that you just can’t say for yourself, so I am saying a few of them for you. Although the Benbow had grand beginnings, I knew the Benbow Inn when it was very run down, but through a history of some fairly dynamic owners it has prospered and grown to become the Gem of the North Coast. People from all over the world stay there, and people from all over the world work there. The Benbow is a cultural asset to our sometimes less than polished community.

        I can’t wait for the project to be finished, the world should applaud your completion of a project that took over 80 years to finish. Not the great depression, not the two great floods, not even time has stayed the dynamic of the venerable Benbow Inn. Truly Humboldt County’s Gem!

        Ernie Branscomb

        John, please ignore the Negivity. It takes a great person to build something in today’s society. Thank you from all of us who appreciate you and Teresa.

        • Thank you Ernie for setting the record straight. We appreciate your and other community members support. It is unfortunate that we have people who throw out the negative vibe without any knowledge of what really is going on.

          Kindest Regards,
          John & Teresa Porter and our entire staff

  • I know the feeling only too well, and they don’t even know what ADA is. one day they will be in your shoes, there wont be any smiles then, or sarcastic letters. the old adtage what comes around goes around.

    • Dear Hogranch:

      Look at my reply above. I am not sure what your information is but it is not close to accurate.

      Next time instead of “pulling the trigger” then asking questions, you should check the facts before time.


      John E. Porter
      Managing Partner
      Benbow Historic Inn

  • tired of all this

    Drinks will be served. People will drive after. DUIs will be arrested.
    Why do charities and fund raisers always include alcohol?

    • Dear “tired of all this”:

      The Benbow Historic Inn has had this fund raiser since 1995 and over the course of those years we have raised over $500,000.00 for Humboldt County non profits and in some cases individuals in need. Some that had cancer and we helped them with expenses. Yes this is a wine tasting and most people attending are staying in the Inn and will not be driving. Those who do not stay over night usually have a “designated driver” or they do not drink. We also serve non alcoholic beverages, coffee, waters, sodas, Ice tea, etc. We understand your concern and hope this clarifies what the purpose of the event is.


      John E. Porter
      Managing Partner
      Benbow Historic Inn

  • Yeah it is weird how so many local businesses had to shut down due to not having ADA reg wheelchair access after those lawsuits years ago, but somehow benbow gets to be above the law???

    & really, native american baskets??? Really??? Id donate if you gave them back to the tribes they belong to.
    Way to keep the disrespect goin on multiple levels benbow!

    • Dear Tyri:

      Well, here we go again, someone who has incorrect information on our ADA issues. Yes, we were also sued by Jason Singleton the attorney from Eureka who was suing many businesses in the entire county. We had to pay our blackmail money to Singleton. It has taken us this much time to come up with a plan to make the Benbow Historic Inn ADA compliant. We are just about to finish our work described above and once completed will make our hotel accessible to our guests.

      If you or anyone has any questions regarding our ADA work feel free to contact me directly so you have accurate information.


      John E. Porter
      Managing Partner
      Benbow Historic Inn

  • The new building with ADA guest suites, elevator and banquet rooms is expected to be open in July 2017.

  • Friendly Observer

    I would never donate a historical item or give a single dime to the Clarke Museum. Perhaps during Cecile Clarke’s time I might have readily done so, but times have changed.

    For many years now, the Clark Museum has been in the practice of selling-off donated historic items, figuratively — by the dark of night.

    If it isn’t bad enough that the Clarke Museum sells items that were/are donated with the intent of becoming permanent fixtures in Clarke collection, the museum sells these artifacts at auction out of the area, such not to draw local attention or scrutiny, reportedly in the Bay Area.

    Many important relics have left the area, ranging from long rifles that go back to the pioneer days of early Humboldt County to logging relics instrumental to providing redwood products that formed the physical foundation of cities from Portland to San Francisco.

    It would be one thing to sell or trade these items locally, such that they could in some sense retain their connection with the North Coast community, but it is quite another to remove these important relics from their place of origin — to be forever lost from local history.

    • Hello Friendly Observer,

      The Clarke Museum has a firm collection and deaccession policy. As our storage is nearly at capacity, we have developed strict guidelines for accepting donations. The item has to have a local provenance and there needs to be either a gap in our collection that this item fills, or is in better shape than an existing item in the collection which is similar, and of course, we need to be able to store it, so size matters.

      Our deaccession policy is as follows: we contact the original donor to see if they would like the item back, if they don’t we ask other local museums and educationally based nonprofits if they would like it for their collections, if they don’t, then we seek to sell it. We very rarely have items to sell, when we do, we start with asking local antique shops if they are interested, which they typically are.

      Established as a gift to the local community and all the visitors who come each year, members, volunteers, and donors honor Cecile Clarke for her vision, and all those who have donated items to make this an outstanding museum and historical gem that enriches this region. We take very seriously our role of maintaining this region’s heritage by professionally preserving and displaying items from the collection. We are committed to serving our community, and in turn, we rely on the community to support us through fundraisers like this. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go towards creating a permentant, yet rotating exhibit at the Benbow Inn, which we’re all excited about!

      Please do not hesistate to contact me directly with any further questions or concerns.


      Ben Brown

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