Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Sacramento's Jewels

On the way to the airport to go home, Kay and Tom took me to see two of Sacramento's must see landmarks, the Stanford Mansion and the Governor's Mansion, both architectural jewels.  We arrived first to see the Stanford Mansion and were told by the receptionist that we were 15 minutes late for the last tour of the day.  We must have looked pretty pathetic as we pleaded that we must see it now or never since I had to be at the airport in a couple of hours, because she persuaded a docent (who had just started to eat her lunch) to give us a quick look at the mansion.  It was quick too, but so worth seeing.  I started to document it all with  my camera, but the docent caught me and told me to put it away.

I can never understand why pictures aren't allowed in public monuments.  I can understand if what is being photograped is delicate and can be harmed by the photographic process, but I didn't see a reason in this case.  It's such a shame that these elegant, stately rooms and original furnishings can't be shared. Oh well,  I will have to describe them as best as I can (which isn't nearly as good as a picture!)

The Stanford Mansion

The Stanford Mansion
The Mansion was bought by Leland and Jane Stanford in 1861 and they soon set about remodeling and refurbishing it to be fit for Leland's soon to be role of Governor.  He was already a wealthy man, having made his fortune in mines and railroads, and the mansion reflected his status.  It has a sweeping double staircase, a marble entry, the latest (at the time) bathrooms, and spacious rooms filled with elegant furnishings.  The most impressive thing about it is that it still has all the original furnishings.  After Leland's death, Jane donated the mansion plus all of its contents and $75,000 a year to the Sisters of Mercy for the care and education of homeless children.  It wasn't the Stanford's first act of generosity either.  After the death of their only son at 15, Jane and Leland Stanford founded Stanford University "for all the children of California".

The Mansion is still used for state functions and the day we were there, the staff was preparing an elegant luncheon for state dignitaries.  In fact, the then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would occasionally sneak over to the old Governor's office for a bit of peace and quiet.  The Mansion is now a State Historic Park and is located in the heart of downtown Sacramento.  It is surrounded by tall office buildings, but it still retains its commanding presence in the landscape.  It is located at 800 N Street, Sacramento, CA.

The mansard roof with its iron cresting was the latest fashion in Paris.
The Governor's Mansion
The Governor's Mansion
Painted entirely in cream, the former Governor's Mansion looks like a delectable wedding cake, gracing a somewhat run down neighborhood.  Built in 1877, the State of California paid $32,500 for the old beauty in 1903 to house the newly elected governor George Pardee and his family.  The Victorian architecture was a bit out of style by then, but it was still impressive, comfortable and conveniently located to the downtown state offices.  It remained the Governor's mansion for 64 years, housing Earl Warren, who went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Ronald Reagan as well as twelve other governors.

Marble entryway
It really didn't take us very long to go through the Mansion, event hough our very chatty docent tried to stretch out the tour.  He may have been used to a more receptive audience when he asked us several times how would we have decorated this or that room.  He was met with blank stares as all of us, including the children present, mumbled, "Uhhhh, just like it is," because truly, it was beautifully and elegantly decorated, and staged perfectly to tell the story of its impressive occupants.  

Looking down the hall to the dining room.

One of the large sitting rooms.
Dining room
Bedroom and gowns from former First Ladies.
Kitchen and pantry
Family dining room off the kitchen where President Kennedy dined.
  His picture taken at the table is proudly displayed.

The original owners had installed Italian marble fireplaces, gold framed mirrors from France, and unique handcrafted hinges and doorknobs.  Many rooms are decorated with the clothing and furnishings of some of the past Governors and First Ladies.  A small dining room off of the kitchen is set with the same dishes that President Kennedy used with he visited.  A picture of the President as he sat at the table is proudly displayed.  It is apparent that much care and attention to detail were paid by the curators of this very stately historic museum.  It is located at 1526 H Street, Sacrament, California.
Next time:  England!

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