In 1978 the State of California purchased the Leland Stanford Mansion for use as a state park. The imposing structure was listed as a National Historic Landmark in May 1987.
The mansion was built during 1856-1857 by prominent Sacramento merchant Shelton C. Fogus. In 1861, Leland Stanford bought the mansion, he was a candidate for governor of California, and felt the home would be a fitting place to live in for an elected officer. In 1871 the Stanford’s remodeled the home and enlarged it from 4,000 square feet to 19,000 square feet.
The Mansion served as the office of three governors during the turbulent 1860’s - Leland Stanford, Fredrick Low and Henry Haight. The mansion had other important visitors including such dignitaries as U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes and his Secretary of War, Alexander Ramsey, and General William Tecumseh Sherman.
As a pro-Union Civil War governor and president of the Central Pacific Railroad, Leland Stanford negotiated political and business deals at the Mansion that helped complete the transcontinental railroad.
Stanford’s wife Jane gave birth to their only child, Leland, Jr., at the mansion on May 14, 1868. He subsequently died from Typhoid Fever in 1884. Following the death of their son, the Stanford’s decided if they could not educate their own child they would make it their business to build an educational institution in his name. They endowed the Leland Stanford Junior University, and on November 14, 1885, the board of trustees, accepted ownership of several properties that would be the site of the new university in Palo Alto.
In June 1893 Stanford, now a United States Senator, died. In 1900 Jane Stanford gave the mansion to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, with $75,000 in railroad bonds, for the “nurture, care and maintenance of homeless children.” The Sisters of Mercy, and later the Sisters of Social Service, adapted the aging building to their needs. In 1987, the Stanford Home for Children moved to new facilities in north Sacramento, when California State Parks assumed control.
Today the Stanford Mansion is once again ready to receive California’s most important guests and to provide opportunities for visitors to learn about both the home’s fascinating past and its exciting future.
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