After the logging had been exhausted in Mesa Grande (Villa Grande today) along the Russian River, the North Pacific Coast Railroad formed a subsidiary, the North Shore Land Company, to develop its properties. There was a lumberyard located here with half of its twenty, full-time residents working in construction. Riverfront lots were sold at seventy-five dollars and the remainder at fifty dollars. Wood shingles beautified the exterior while burlap lined the inside walls. Electricity became available while a nearby windmill pumped water to the cottages. However, most cabins did not possess a proper kitchen and the only phone was located at the General Store (phone number: 15-R).
Built in 1905, the Lois Cottage at 21866 East St. (upper photo) is typical of the early builds in Mesa Grande, costing roughly $200. Lois Tidball lived there with Captain Nelson, who sailed out of San Francisco. Legend states that the Captain took Lois and her daughter on his ship for one last voyage and returned married to the daughter. Captain Nelson supposedly buried valuables from his worldly travels for his bride’s financial security. Present day owners of Lois Cottage, Rich and Wanda Holmer, hired professional treasure hunters to explore the area with metal detectors, but no precious trove has been discovered at the time of this writing. Perhaps Lois Tidball had her revenge and lifted the booty from under her unfaithful lover’s eyes. Or perhaps the mother and daughter had schemed such an outcome all along. Oh, the drama! Another example of a Craftsman cottage in Villa Grande is at 21894 Russian River Ave. (lower photo), built in 1933. It was briefly on the market recently featuring 1100 sq. ft., two bedrooms, two baths and listed for $1.2 million. How things have changed.