navarro by the sea center

History of Captain Fletcher's Inn and Navarro
Part 6

© by Hillary Adams, 2003

McCorkle-Wulk Ownership (1948-59)

The Sholins owned the Inn for only four years. They sold it to the McCorkle-Wulk families in 1948, again for the symbolic $10.00. The deed is dated March 4, 1948 to R. Q. McCorkle and W. J. Wulk [McCorkle's father-in-law]. (Official Records Bk. 234, pp. 153-154).

On March 31, 1948 a Deed of Interest granted an undivided 1/2 interests to the wives of the two men, Verna McCorkle and Alvina Wulk as joint tenants. (Book 234, pp. 154-155). The McCorkle and Wulk families came from southern California. Their daughter, JoAnn McCorkle Johnson, who grew up at the Inn, still lives in Fort Bragg. She has provided a number of photographs of both the exterior and interior of the Inn as it looked when the McCorkle and Wulk families purchased it.

McCorkle family navarro by the sea inn ca.1948
McCorkle family in front of Inn soon after purchase in 1948. R.Q., Verna, JoAnn, Billy Lambie, and friends
Robert J. Lee Collection (Johnson) L-07826-B
interior, navarro by the sea inn ca.1948
Interior of the Inn (Navarro-by-the-Sea Hotel), 1948.
Robert J. Lee Collection (Johnson) L-07827

Later in 1948, a portion of the front porch was extended, enlarged and enclosed to create a large bar. According to JoAnn, her parents lived upstairs in the Inn, her grandparents in the large cottage on the eastern side of the building. She eventually had a room upstairs.

interior of bar,  ca.1948
Bar addition, interior, 1948
R.Q. McCorkle and Bill Wulk
Robert J. Lee Collection (J.A. Johnson) L-07822
 bar addition,  ca.1948
Bar addition, exterior, 1948
Gillette proof Robert J. Lee Collection (J.A. Johnson) L-07823

The restuarant, located behind the bar addition in the northeast room was popular and busy. The Navarro-by-the-Sea Hotel attracted people from all over the country, especially during the salmon runs. It was also a popular summer vacation place for those wanting to escape the heat further inland. A long fishing pier and a number of boats were for rent. Gasoline could be purchased from the hotel's pumps. There was a 25 cent charge for beach access.

navarro by the sea inn,  ca.1948
Navarro-by-the-Sea Hotel, 1948
Gillette proof Robert J. Lee Collection (J.A. Johnson) L-07824

Crider Ownership (1959-72)

The McCorkles and Wulks stayed at the Inn for eleven years, finally selling to Mae Crider of Reno, Nevada in 1959. The Inn appears for the first time in the official records as “Novarro (sic) by the Sea”. (Notice of Intent Sale dated February 27, 1959. Official Records, Bk. 506, p. 19).

Mae Crider moved into the hotel with a man named Jack Sparkman, said to be her nephew. He ran the bar and restaurant, both of which were extremely popular during their tenure. Sparkman was said to be a good story teller and a jovial host. Fishing on the river was still excellent, but slowly declined, damaging the hotel's business.

A portion of the property was condemned for a State Highway and contested by Crider, apparently over concern for water rights (December 14, 1960, Mendocino County Official Records, page 16, serial no. 19674). In 1964, the cottage units to the west of the old Inn were demolished and a modern motel unit built (personal conversation, R. D. Beacon, 1997).

Sparkman Ownership (1972-73)

Mae Crider died in 1972 leaving the Inn and cottages to Sparkman, who already owned half of the liquor license. Sparkman almost immediately put the Inn up for sale. The property, called “Navarro by the Sea” and with an address of 500 South Highway 1, Albion, was transfered by Grant Deed from Jack W. Sparkman to R. D. Beacon of Elk on May 14, 1973. According to Beacon, this was actually an exchange of land for another parcel he owned in Greenwood/Elk. That parcel eventually became Greenwood State Park.