Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

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Leland Stanford House
Stanford Mansion - Sacramento, California (6007570640) (cropped).jpg
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Location Sacramento, California
Coordinates 38°34′34.22″N121°29′52.38″W / 38.5761722°N 121.4978833°W / 38.5761722; -121.4978833 Coordinates: 38°34′34.22″N121°29′52.38″W / 38.5761722°N 121.4978833°W / 38.5761722; -121.4978833
Architect Seth Babson [2]
Architectural style Second Empire
NRHP reference No. 71000178 [3]
CHISL No.614 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 9, 1971
Designated NHLMay 28, 1987 [4]

The Leland Stanford Mansion, often known simply as the Stanford Mansion, is a historic mansion and California State Park in Sacramento, California, which serves as the official reception center for the Californian government and as one of the official workplaces of the Governor of California.


Built in 1856, the mansion was formerly the residence of Leland Stanford, 8th Governor of California and founder of Stanford University. The Stanford family donated the estate to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento in 1900, which maintained a children's home on the estate until 1978. Subsequently, the Californian government purchased the property to serve as the Californian capital's ceremonial reception center and as a state park, officially known as the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park.


Engraving of the mansion in 1862. Photocopy of wood-engraving by Van Vleck and Keith from a photograph by Shireff of Higgins' Daguerrian Rooms, Sacramento, with figures, etc. touched up by Nahl and Brothers. HABS CAL,34-SAC,9-1 (cropped).tif
Engraving of the mansion in 1862.
The Stanford Mansion in 1872. Photocopy of 1872 photograph by Eadweard Muybridge in Stanford University Archives, PC 6. VIEW FROM THE NORTHEAST - Leland Stanford House, 800 N Street, Sacramento, Sacramento HABS CAL,34-SAC,9-3 (cropped).tif
The Stanford Mansion in 1872.

The original owner and builder of the home was Sacramento merchant Shelton C. Fogus, a wealthy Sacramento building merchant. The Renaissance Revival architecture of the original home is attributed to Seth Babson, who later designed the E.B. Crocker residence and art gallery that are now part of the Crocker Art Museum.

Stanford family

Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific Railroad (one of the Big Four tycoons) and a rising member of the Republican Party, purchased the home for $8,000 (equivalent to $230,000in 2020) in June 1861, shortly before his election as California governor that year. During his two-year governorship, the Stanford Mansion served as the state's executive office and living quarters. Succeeding governors Frederick Low and Henry Huntly Haight would also make the mansion their office.

Between 1871 and 1872, the Stanford family embarked on an ambitious remodeling of the residence. As Stanford had had to attend his gubernatorial inauguration by rowboat in 1862, the home was raised twelve feet in response to frequent flooding from the Sacramento River. In addition, one story was added to both the bottom and top of the mansion. The home was also expanded from 4,000 square feet (370 m2) to 19,000 square feet (1,800 m2), and redesigned to reflect the French Second Empire architecture popular of the period, particularly in the 4th floor Mansard roof that caps the home. The result was a four-story remodeled architectural sandwich in which the original 2-story house sat between the added floors.

Following Stanford's death in 1893, his widow Jane Lathrop Stanford continued to oversee the home.

Diocese of Sacramento ownership

View from the mansion's gardens. Stanford Mansion (3815117553) (cropped).jpg
View from the mansion's gardens.

In 1900, Jane Stanford donated the home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento to be used for the children of California. It was given to the Sisters of Mercy who ran it as an orphanage named the Stanford and Lathrop Memorial Home for Friendless Children.

In 1932, the home was handed over the Sisters of Social Service who eventually transformed the mansion from an orphanage to a residence for dependent high school girls. A fire in the mansion in 1940 brought considerable damage to the fourth floor.

The mansion was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1957 [1] and a National Historic Landmark in 1987. [2] [4] [5]

Official reception house and state park

Governor Gavin Newsom meeting with Francois Legault, Premier of Quebec, at the Stanford Mansion. Gavin Newsom and Francois Legault.jpg
Governor Gavin Newsom meeting with François Legault, Premier of Quebec, at the Stanford Mansion.

In 1978, the government of California acquired the property for use as a state park. The Sisters of Social Services would remain on the grounds until 1987, when California State Parks designated the mansion and the immediate surrounding land as a state historic park. Following the state's decision, the National Park Service declared the mansion as a National Historic Landmark on May 28, 1987. It was not until September 2005 that the mansion would finally be open to public tours, after $22 million worth of renovation and rehabilitation.

The mansion is also the state's official reception center for leaders from around the world. [6]

Prior to the reopening of the mansion, California did not have a location for the hosting of official functions for nearly 40 years. Today the mansion is frequently used by the Government of California to host foreign dignitaries. The Governor also retains an office in the mansion. Tours of the mansion are offered daily but can be impacted by official functions on behalf of the Governor's Office or the California State Legislature leadership.


The mansion is built in a Renaissance Revival style. Leland Stanford Mansion (1).JPG
The mansion is built in a Renaissance Revival style.

Beginning in 1991, with the help of Sacramento businessman and former Stanford University professor Peter McCuen, the Stanford Mansion underwent a 14-year renovation at a cost of $22 million ($41.8 million in 2020). Accurate restoration of the home and its rooms was aided by both an extensive study of the home in 1986 through the Historic American Buildings Survey, and through a large collection of photographs of the home taken in 1868 by Alfred A. Hart, and again in 1872 by Eadweard Muybridge.

The repairs and restoration were completed in 2005, when the mansion opened to the public. California State Parks offers guided tours through the fully refurbished home. Rooms of the house have been restored to their 1872 appearance. The Leland Stanford Mansion is physically accessible, including the gardens, Visitor Center and restrooms. Elevators provide access to the upper floors of the mansion's tour route. A tactile model of the Mansion is also available in the Visitor Center.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Stanford-Lathrop House". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  2. 1 2 Regnery, Dorothy F. (January 30, 1987). "Leland Stanford House" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Inventory Nomination Form. National Park Service . Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  3. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  4. 1 2 NHL Summary Archived 2007-11-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Leland Stanford House" (pdf). Photographs. National Park Service . Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  6. "Leland Stanford Mansion SHP". California Department of Parks and Recreation. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 5 February 2014.