About Our Family-Owned Historic Hotel in McCloud, California
We are the Mathis family, proud owners of the McCloud River Mercantile Company. Our family is comprised of Kevin and Darlene (part owners and resident innkeepers), Tanner (our son), Whisper (Tanner’s dog), Lonnie (Tanner’s grandfather and part owner), and Joan (Tanner’s grandmother or Best mama as they call her in Norway).
Kevin – was an Electrical Engineer with Hewlett Packard for 16 years until the big merger with Compaq. We took this as a blessing because now we could focus on other endeavors. He loves the outdoors, camping, fishing, and crabbing at the Oregon coast with Tanner. He’s managed most of the construction and isn’t too bad of a waiter/ host at the restaurant. But then we noticed less of the single guys stopped coming by because he wasn’t as cute or cheery-eyed as our waitresses in the mornings.
Darlene – was a Project Manager at the City of Sacramento’s Architecture Division for 18 years, managing commercial Capital Improvement Projects. I managed many of the City’s Capital Improvement Projects over the last 18 years. But was ready for a change and wanted time to raise our son, Tanner. This project has taken a lot of time, but at least I’m always available at home for Tanner. I did the majority of the drawings for the construction permits, including the interiors. Hopefully, now that the design and construction are complete, it’ll slow down. Right….
Lonnie – is retired and “it’s hard work,” as he claims. He’s retired from the State’s Financial Office in Sacramento. Lonnie is Kevin’s dad and Tanner’s grandfather. He’s an avid abalone diver, loves the outdoors, attempted climbing Mt. Shasta for his 70th birthday, and is a Wine Connoisseur. When he’s around the Mercantile, he’s usually here to give us a break, and he’s always entertaining. He’s a great grandfather to Tanner and almost too generous. But what grandparent isn’t…
Joan – Kevin’s mom and Tanner’s “best mama” is a retired school teacher. She has three sons, Kevin, Keir, and Kyle. She’s also a cancer survivor. Joan underwent a cancer trial that included a bone marrow transplant, and it’s been almost 13 years since she was diagnosed. Multiple Myeloma is deemed incurable to this day, but she is a walking miracle. She has been able to see her three grandchildren born and be a part of their lives. She is quite eccentric (she calls it “self-actualized”) and very creative. Sometimes you can see her tiptoeing through the halls for something to do…she loves sewing, sudoku, crossword puzzles, and her family.
Yes – we did it. We left the City for the so-called “simple life” and bought the biggest fixer-upper – what were we thinking? Our life could be a sitcom. There’s never a dull moment. Yes – life is at a slower pace, but everything is much more exaggerated – like a Norman Rockwell picture.
We have high-speed Internet, but we still run on kerosene. Maybe one of these days, we’ll get natural gas. Nevertheless, we have come a long way from the time we bought the place.
Back in late 1999, Kevin and I went looking for ranch property and came across the old Mercantile. Being romantics for old buildings, we soon forgot what we were in the market for and started negotiating on the old building. Pretty soon, we were very involved, the building escrow closed on April Fools’ Day 2000, and the work began.
For the first few years, we focused on the life and safety issues and preventative maintenance: electrical upgrades, sprinklers, broken windows, plumbing, staircases, etc. We scraped paint, removed dry rot, and many other repairs that didn’t make much of a showing. Then we started on the fun stuff. We found a picture in the Museum of how the Mercantile looked around the turn of the century, and we started bringing that picture back to life. We found old display cases and the original Lamson Cash Carrier in the basement. This allowed us to repair and restore old items and reconstruct the missing parts of the store. To us, it was essential to keep the vintage feel of the store but to sell items that were still in demand and were functional.
Our next big project was the rehabilitation of the second floor into hotel rooms and assembly space. In the meanwhile, the Soda Shop also became vacant, so we had to tackle that project at the same time.
Getting permits for the rooms was our biggest challenge over the years. Each room was designed and constructed with a different theme and configuration to preserve the existing exterior and interior finishes. The restaurant was the next project, and it was rehabilitated to allow our visitors to experience a step back in time to the 1930’s era soda shop. We could not duplicate the original 1937 soda shop because too much was missing, including the counters, etc. However, we did uncover the original wood walls, ceilings, and transom windows. We still have a lot of work to do, so expect to see improvements each time you visit the restored Mercantile Building.
Tanner has now grown up and is attending Southern Oregon University, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Digital Cinema. How time flies by.
The ranch we first set out to find, found us. In 2020, we were presented with the opportunity to restore the historic Soule Ranch in Little Shasta. Currently, Kevin spends much of his time on the ranch bringing the property back to life.