The Stanford Mansion

The loss of his law library to fire in 1852 prompted New York attorney Leland Stanford to migrate to California, to join brothers who were already successful merchants in Gold Rush Sacramento. Leland managed the Stanford Brother’s wholesale business on K Street, became wealthy, and involved himself in local politics.  In June 1861 he and his wife Jane purchased a stately home at 800 N Street from Sheldon Fogus, another wealthy local merchant, and spared no expense in twice renovating and remodeling the property into a 19,000 square-foot residence. Their only son was born there in 1868.  In February 1872, the couple hosted a lavish housewarming party for 700 of their closest friends, who must have been suitably impressed with the 17-foot ceilings, gilded mirrors and exquisitely carved moldings, elegant carpets, draperies, and light fixtures. During Leland Stanford’s term as governor of California from January 1861 to December 1863, the mansion housed executive offices and served as the locale for state social occasions. It still does today, following its purchase by the state of California in 1978. The Stanford Mansion was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.