Nestled on the corner of 8th and N streets is one of the Golden State’s most storied buildings — just not in terms of height— The Leland Stanford Mansion.
We’ll admit that, when walking around Downtown, we’re occasionally taken aback by this beautiful, ornate, and rather squat residence — it’s a striking juxtaposition to see it against the modern glass towers and structures of commerce that surround it.
Originally built in the late 1850s for local merchant Shelton Fogus, the two-story home was designed by architect Seth Babson — who you may know as the designer for the Crocker Art Gallery. Leland Stanford purchased it in 1861, who was the then co-founder and president of Central Pacific Railroad. We’d like to think this stately home helped him win election as California’s eighth governor in 1862.
By 1871, the Stanford family had remodeled the home, expanding it from 4,000 sq-ft to 19,000 sq-ft by adding two additional floors and a governor’s office from which Stanford would conduct political and business dealings. Govs. Fredrick Low + Henry Haight also used the mansion as their political offices during their tenure.
Some other key moments in the mansion’s history include:
- In 1900, Jane Stanford donated the property and $75,000 in railroad bonds to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento to use for the care of homeless children, where it would eventually become the Stanford Home for Children.
- The state purchased the home for use as a state park in 1978, and by 1987 the children’s home had relocated to a new facility in north Sacramento. The mansion became a National Historic Landmark in May of that same year.
- Beginning in the early 90s, the mansion underwent a 14-year, $22 million renovation project that was completed in 2005, with the mansion opening to the public for tours. While touring the mansion, expect to see a recreated interior based on photographs from the 1870s and original furnishings that belonged to the Stanford family.
Currently, the mansion is often used by the state government as the reception house to host foreign leaders + other ceremonial events. Well, we celebrate you Leland Stanford State Mansion.