For three decades the Jenner Inn has enjoyed a reputation as an outstanding destination for romantic getaways, honeymoons and weddings, located on the magnificent Sonoma Coast within minutes of America's premier wine country. Less well known is what the Inn offers those in quest of spiritual, personal or professional growth.
The Jenner Inn has been operating continuously, in a quiet, sleepy little way, since Mr. A.B. Davis erected a lumber mill in 1904. The tiny hamlet was christened "Jenner by the Sea", and a hotel/post office was built to accommodate the anticipated bustle of a booming town.
The mill thrived for ten years, supplying lumber to rebuild Santa Rosa and the San Francisco Bay Area following the great earthquake of 1906.In 1914 Mr. Davis died and his son and heir closed the mill (and probably went off to war). During this time the hamlet developed into a village, with the building of a school house and perhaps 50 dwellings. Seven of those dwellings are now part of the Jenner Inn.
In 1948 the original hotel with its general store, post office (and pool hall) was destroyed by fire. It was replaced by a one-of-a-kind redwood structure with galleon windows, wheel beamed ceilings and solid oak floors, built by Swedish boat builders. There were no sleeping rooms in the new building, and lodging was offered in the little cabins overlooking the mill site, which had been used for living quarters by the mill workers. The landmark Jenner by the Sea building then became a lodging office, general store, post office, tavern, and family fish house. It was and still is a favorite stop for abalone divers fishing the rich rocky waters just north of Jenner. In the years when abalone was plentiful on the North Coast, the tavern boasted a collection of the largest abalone shells in California.
Today this historic building is the headquarters of the Jenner Inn, housing the Inn's parlor and offices, and also the Jennner by the Sea Restaurant and bar. Current owner Richard Murphy purchased the property in 1979 and expanded on the idea of lodgings in outlying cabins by restoring five of the earliest homes and creating a bed and breakfast with a collection of cottages throughout the village. The atmosphere, setting, and privacy of the Jenner Inn has made it a favorite with honeymooners and other romantics. Where the Russian River and Pacific Ocean meet at Jenner is an almost magical vortex of peace and tranquility, and a setting of exceptional natural beauty. The sounds of the surf echo from the hillsides, providing soothing background music everywhere.
One of the original mill cabins has been rebuilt and is known as the Tree House. The Inn's Mill Cottage is believed to have served as the former home of the mill's manager. In the Jenner House, the largest of the homes which comprise the inn, is a room named for each of the Jenners. Captain Will got what captains usually get: the big, comfy suite that takes up almost the whole upstairs, together with the lion's share of the view. We put Elijah downstairs near the road -- handy for him to get out there and shoe those horses. Charles got a small cozy room at the back because... what the heck, he's a recluse anyway. The house's fourth room -- a spacious, voluptuous room with a private patio and garden -- is named "Fanny Jewell". Now, Fanny had no known connection with any of the Jenners. Some say that she was Charles' muse and mistress. Some say she wasn't. Others say whether she was or she wasn't -- Charles never got that book written and it was probably her fault, either because she was or because she wasn't. All we truly know about Fanny is that she's the only one of the four who actually owned property in Jenner in the 1800s. Her family purchased a block of land from John Sutter when he divided the old Fort Ross land and sold to it off to the Call, Rule, and Jewel families among others.
There were Jenners around before Charles, though -- even before Mr. Rule bought the land. The first was Captain Will, who arrived around 1850, just as California was becoming a state. Eight or ten years later Elijah, a blacksmith and a dentist appeared on the scene. (Students of the old West will recall that smithies usually doubled as dentists, just as barbers were also surgeons.) So far as we can tell, Charles was not a descendent of either Will nor Elijah. History is silent but we think that they must have been related.
Oddly, so far as we can tell, none of them ever owned any property here, and there are no tales of derring-do involving them. Yet when the settlement grew large enough to become a town and give itself a name, it chose "Jenner by the Sea". Perhaps the Jenner Gulch had become a landmark for directions -- much like Jenner today is used to pinpoint locations on the Sonoma Coast. This could be why Charles in particular is credited with being the town's namesake. Or perhaps "Jenner by the Sea" just had a nice melodious ring to it, whereas "Rule by the Sea".......well.
There are two natural vortices of spiritual energy in Jenner. One is a tremendous power produced by the confluence of two great bodies of water, the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean. The other is a hidden place in the Inn's Meadow, where the high hills of the Jenner Gulch converge. Spring-fed Jenner Creek tumbles over huge boulders as it bursts out of the hills, and a meditation bench is perched on a high creek bank above the cascading waters.