|“Love ambiance of place – lots of room but still intimate & quiet” Auburn, Spring 07
From Hospital to Historic Inn
The Grey Whale Inn started life in 1915 as the Fort Bragg Hospital. Dr. F. McLean Campbell convinced the Union Lumber Company to provide the money needed to build the hospital. In 1920, Dr. Paul J. Bowman came to Fort Bragg from his home in San Francisco to fill in while Dr. Campbell was on vacation. Dr. Bowman liked it here, was asked by Dr. Campbell to stay on, and so he did. When Dr. Campbell decided to move away in 1923, Dr. Bowman bought the hospital from the Union Lumber Company, reorganized the corporation and officially named it the Redwood Coast Hospital. Dr. Bowman was the chief surgeon from 1923 to 1965. After Dr. Bowman sold the hospital in 1966, he continued to practice medicine in the associated clinic across the street until 1969 when he retired.
In 1927, the Redwood Coast Hospital attained the distinction of being one of the two hospitals in California with under 50 beds that was approved by the American College of Surgeons. In 1929, an addition was built that added about 50% more floor space. The expansion emphasized the burgeoning field of obstetrics. During this time, Dr. Bowman urged women to deliver their babies in the “convenient and sterile” hospital instead of at home. A new delivery room, nursery, and several patient rooms as well as the downstairs clinic were added. The window through which doctors passed newborns from delivery room to nursery still exists.
In 1966, the hospital was sold to Dr. Hamlin, a local physician. When Dr. Hamlin took over, his wife (a dietitian) took over the menu planning and cooking for the hospital. Mrs. Hamlin's meals were said to be outstanding and nutritious with everything cooked from scratch, using fresh vegetables and even wine and sherry. Up until the 1960's there was a Chinese cook named Yippie who lived and worked in the hospital from the day it opened until he became ill in the early 60's. He was also reported to be a fabulous cook. The tradition continues.
On July 7, 1971, the Redwood Coast Hospital closed and the patients were transported by ambulances to the newly built Mendocino Coast District Hospital on River Drive in Fort Bragg. This larger, better equipped, and more modern hospital was built with public funding and loans on the condition that the privately-owned Redwood Coast Hospital would close down when the new hospital opened. This condition would reduce competition and hopefully ensure the new hospital's financial success.