Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Be transported into California’s past as you wander through the opulent Leland Stanford Mansion. Gilded mirrors, French-polished wooden panels and crystal chandeliers are just some of the decorative elements you’ll see within the 19,000-square foot (1,765-square meter) house. This was the home to one of California’s most important governors, Leland Stanford, who was responsible for bringing the railroads to the state, as well as for founding Stanford University.
The grounds, with their ordered plantings and blend of curved and straight pathways, provide a splendid example of Victorian design and a lovely place to enjoy a picnic. As you approach the house you begin to appreciate the Victorian opulence that Governor Stanford and his wife incorporated into the house when they renovated it in 1872. The many decorated windows, the curved balustrades and the arching wooden doorway have been restored to appear just as they would have in the Governor’s day.
If you want to see inside the mansion, you’ll need to take the guided tour. These run throughout the day, on the hour. The highly knowledgeable docents will give detailed explanations of the various original features and furnishings and will relate the history of the Stanfords and their importance to the history of California. History buffs will enjoy hearing the guide recounting tales of the many important state meetings that were held here, California’s first presidential visit and the period in which the building’s was an orphanage.
Stop in the Visitor Center to find out more about the family and the history of their home. The center features interactive exhibits as well as a number of short films.
The Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park is located two blocks to the west of the State Capitol Building in downtown Sacramento. There is a small charge for taking one of the tours. Calling ahead on weekends can be a good idea to make sure you get the time you want. The mansion is open from Wednesday to Sunday.