Inn Specialist Johanna Welty and Alain Pinel Realtors are particularly honored to have been awarded the valued listing for the sale of The Gingerbread Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn. Not only is The Gingerbread an iconic California B&B recognized and revered the world over but even more significant is the property's enduring prestige as one of the West Coast's most prized, photographed and published 19th century architectural landmarks. The premier listing of the 32-room Queen Anne mansion -- the pride of historic "Victorian Ferndale" -- along with its famous manicured English Garden will attract and interest both aspiring, high-end innkeepers and serious preservationists around the world.


Originally built in 1899, as a family residence for Dr. Hogan J. Ring, a Norwegian physician who immigrated to California, the historic redwood "Painted Lady" with its extravagant fancywork always as known as "The Ring House" until, almost a century later, it became The Gingerbread Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn. The Ring House continues to represent the most grand of the 19th century "Butterfat Palaces" of "Cream City."


Situated along California's North Coast within the fertile Eel River Valley, Ferndale became an integral part of the state's vast Redwood Empire. But the village's wealthy, dairy-based economy further distinguished the small, idyllic farm community, causing it to be nicknamed "Cream City" -- and its ornately opulent homes "Butterfat Palaces." And, just as the Redwood Empire thrived satisfying San Francisco's voracious appetite for valued redwood timber, so too did Ferndale prosper by supplying the West Coast’s finest butter and cream to the same illustrious "City by the Bay."


The Property originally known as The Ring House


In its 1994 publication The Victorian Homes of Ferndale, The Ferndale Museum discusses The Ring House and notes that “the original front section of the home is Queen Anne style with touches of Eastlake. The house, with its octagonal turrets, balconies, crenellated eaves, trimmed gables and wooden crested roof tops, is the largest in town with 32 rooms.”


The publication further observes that the famed Victorian’s construction was quite different from most others at that time. The foundation was of concrete and a two foot crawl space was allowed between the first and second floors. Made of redwood, the double wall construction has some boards 24 inches wide and some of the support beams are 18 inches square."


Serious preservation of The Ring House began in the 1970s with subsequent owners converting the famed Queen Anne into the internationally-recognized Bed and Breakfast that it is today. Curiously, no owner yet has listed this deserving “Painted Lady” on National Register of Historic Places.


The Bed and Breakfast Inn now known as The Gingerbread Mansion


With eleven elegantly-furnished, period guest suites – all equipped with romantic fireplaces, unexpected flat screens and adjoining handsome private baths --, the 8,544 square foot Gingerbread Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn represents one of Northern California’s largest historic boutique lodgings. The premier, “Select Registry” property provides guests with many more “public” guest gathering/common areas than does the industry norm. Gingerbread guests are free to enjoy two front parlors, each with massive redwood pocket doors and fireplaces, an afternoon tea room, a handsome library, an opulent dining room where elaborate, multi-course breakfasts are served overlooking the inviting English Garden, a well-stocked gift shop and, of course, the formal English Garden which itself dominates one full town block alongside the Inn. The cool coastal climate of Ferndale allows this magical “garden of paradise” to thrive while providing guests a serene sanctuary -- an idyllic, peaceful haven of solitude and refuge set within exquisite landscaped beauty.


“Backstage,” the historic Inn sports a well-equipped commercial kitchen, reservation office, two laundry rooms and a sprawling, light-drenched, penthouse-like innkeeper/owners’ quarters on the top floor. This unusually large living space offers exquisite views from an oversized living room along with a spacious, eat-in kitchen and a roomy bedroom with adjoining private bath.


The Victorian Village of Ferndale


Located just 250 miles north of San Francisco, a short stretch off of California’s famed Redwood Highway (US 101), the “Victorian Village” of Ferndale boasts some of the Golden State’s most treasured 19th century structures. It is an architecturally-preserved jewel of a town and, as such, is designated as a California Historic Landmark.  Its “Main Street” appears on the National Trust of Historic Places.


The charming community is nestled within the Eel River Valley between the Redwood Highway and the Pacific Ocean. Its surrounding, fertile agricultural lands are unusually rich, thanks to centuries of delta deposits from nearby converging Salt and Eel Rivers. The village was incorporated in 1893 but Euro-American settlement of this flat, thickly forested, coastal area, choked with towering 6-8 foot tall ferns, began in 1852.


California’s mid-century Gold Rush attracted Europeans to this region after disappointing gold field prospecting dashed early hopes of striking it rich in the "Promised Land." Immigrants from Swiss and Danish dairy-farming communities brought their expertise and traditions of small cooperative creameries to lay the foundation of what was to become the Valley’s booming dairy industry. By 1890, several creameries had opened within a five-mile radius of Ferndale, and the town soon became known as “Cream City.” Its butter was rated the best in the state; its opulent residences – veritable “Drama Queens” -- became known as “Butterfat Palaces.”


Today, the Victorian Village of Ferndale parades an ultra-friendly, old-time, small-town atmosphere. Its invigorating coastal climate and magnificent array of preserved 19th century architecture welcome and reward visitors from near and afar.  Ferndale also is the gateway to California's mysterious "Lost Coast" and the State's majestic Redwood forests.


Concerning “List Price”


As with the sale of all real estate, it is the Seller, not the Realtor, who establishes list price. In this instance, the Seller chose to set an unusually low list price in order to attract the most market interest from preservationists and aspiring innkeepers alike. The Seller's list price of $924,900 represents an unusually low $108/square foot. This is unheard of, particularly in California, a state where real estate values traditionally are known to be high.


The list price also is far below the today’s market average for similar-sized, Northern California Bed and Breakfast Inns. Many of these other Inns have not been awarded the Gingerbread’s prestigious “Select Registry” designation that distinguishes only the finest boutique lodgings.


The listing agent, a Northern California Inn Specialist, originally proposed a list price of $1,850,000, based on other Northern California "active" inn comps. Recently, an extremely conservative “replacement” cost estimate came in at $1,520,000 but did NOT include the antique furniture, other furnishings, fixtures or equipment. The sale of this 8,544 square foot, 32-room, historic Bed and Breakfast will include all furnishings, with many furnishings antique.


In truth, the “replacement/reproduction” cost for The Gingerbread Mansion is priceless. The skilled craftsmen and talented artisans capable of creating such a three-story, Gingerbread confection no longer exist. The Gingerbread Mansion, simply-stated, represents an invaluable antique architectural relic, patiently awaiting a new owner who has the appreciation, respect and willingness to care for such a treasured Victorian masterpiece. The ideal Buyer, of course, would be one similar to the prestigious, exclusive men's club, The Ingomar Club, that wisely acquired -- and continues to magnificently maintain -- the celebrated Queen Anne style Carson Mansion in nearby Eureka, California.


Important Disclosure


The Gingerbread Mansion is now Bank-owned. The Seller, therefore, has no legal obligation to provide disclosures of any kind to Buyers. This is similar to a Probate Sale where the Seller has never occupied the property and, therefore, has no direct knowledge of the property to disclose. Therefore, 400 Berding Street in Ferndale will be sold “As Is” and without business financials. For further information on this matter, please contact the Listing Agent.


A Final Word


The tradition of Bed and Breakfasts harks back to Europe but took strong hold in the United States during the 1980s, following America's bicentennial and associated interest in preserving our Nation's architectural heritage. The Gingerbread Mansion represents one of the "purest" B&Bs in the Golden State. Its structural honesty and undeniable value as a historic Victorian architectural treasure combined with its three decades of serving international guests in the "traditional" European Bed and Breakfast manner make The Gingerbread a California icon and a hospitality opportunity within a class of its own.