Discover Our Bed and Breakfast in California’s Gold Country
The Eklunds’ connection to the Locke House is through Richard’s mentor John W. Thorp, Dr. Locke’s grandson and noted aeronautical engineer, and his wife Kay. (That story was the basis for an HGTV “Restore America” feature.)
In 1992, the Eklunds (Richard, Lani, and daughter Kerri) moved from Virginia at Mrs. Thorp’s invitation to save John’s ancestral house and aeronautical legacy. Work on the property began immediately and in 1999 they hung “The Inn at Locke House” sign.
Operating the inn uses the Richard’s engineering talents and expertise. It reflects Lani’s background in education, theatre, and culinary interests as well as Kerri’s organizational, decorating, and culinary skills. Like Kay Thorp, the Eklunds also have a passion for preserving the heirloom plants and trees in the gardens of the inn. Maintaining the gardens is more a joy than a job.
History of the Locke House and Barn
The Inn at Locke House preserves the history and hospitality of the Gold Rush era in which the house and barn were built. The Lockes first lived in a small two-story cottage, running the doctor’s practice, farming, and business interests until their growing family needed more space.
A three-story all-brick residence, tank house (water tower), and barn were built, between 1862 – 1882, of bricks manufactured in Dr. Locke’s brick factory a few miles from the site. When the family grew to 13 children, various relatives, and many visitors occupying the Main House, a two-story wing was added to connect the main house with the tank house.
The brick barn’s history reflects its farming and dairy days as well as its use as a community meeting place and headquarters of the Civil War Mokelumne Light Dragoons, sponsored by Dr. Locke. In the 1960s it became John’s workshop for building the T-18 aircraft.
The Neo-Georgian style house and brick barn are listed as California Landmarks and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Eco-Friendly from 19th to 21st Century
As soon as an advance in technology became available, Dr. Locke incorporated it into his 19th century home and medical practice. In addition, he operated his businesses with a sense of stewardship for the land and its resources.
That philosophy continues today. The Inn at Locke House has been designated as one of the top ten Eco-Friendly lodgings in the United States and the gardens are a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Solar energy, recycling, compositing, water-wise landscaping, electrical vehicle charging, and other environmental practices are a natural way of living at the inn. Pure Guard service adds anti-microbial protection as an amenity.
Exploring and Enjoying the Inn at Locke House
In each guestroom is a binder telling the story of the Lockes moving to California, building the house and barn, and establishing the village of Lockeford. As most of the furnishings in the house are Locke family pieces, guests have the sense of how the pioneers, as well as Dr. Locke’s descendants, lived in the house. Guests can explore the books, photographs, artifacts, and art of the more than one-hundred fifty years the house has welcomed visitors. Spending time in the garden – set against the backdrop of the Sierra Foothills in the distance — fills the senses with the beauty and scents of trees, flowers, and herbs that have been nurtured over the years.
Dr. Locke had gas piped in, electricity installed and solar power. Nowadays internet service, satellite television, and computer access add to guests’ convenience for business or pleasure travel.
Other Awards and Accolades
- Featured on HGTV: Restore America; If Walls Could Talk
- CBS TV “Eye on the Bay”
- Featured in Sacramento Magazine “Not Stuck in Lodi”; Best of Country Escapes; Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine; Visit California
- Recommended: Fodor’s Guide to Northern California: Frommer’s Guide; Best Places in Northern California