The California Governor's Mansion. It was “the house of the future” in 1877, with an electric doorbell and indoor plumbing. Some might mistake it for the Munster’s residence, but it was actually home to a hardware magnate (the builder) and numerous California First Families. Many famous people, including the Queen of England and John F. Kennedy, stayed here at this famous Sacramento tourist attraction. The Queen even played the piano in the front parlor, according to our tour guide, Kent. There is a lot of history in this Sacramento museum.
The mansion contains two front parlors decorated in furnishings from the 1890’s and early 1900s. But when we moved into the central room there was a definite 1960s and ‘70s style of furniture and decor that felt more comfortable. Our guide liked talking about the Governor’s children that grew up in the home. The first room air conditioner was for the Governor’s office, but one hot day he was out of town. So, the family took over that room for the informal dining room, as it remains today.
Most intriguing (from both inside and outside the house) is the weird walkway that was added to get from the kitchen to an office-turned-dining room. The exterior view also shows a 2nd floor box-like protrusion that was added on the outside of the home to make room for the refrigerator. One of the most amusing aspects of the tour is discovering painted toenails on the upstairs claw-foot bathtub. You could tell this was a home, not a stuffy official house. People lived here, and now we get to share some of their memories.
Compared to many other museum gift shops, the Gov. Mansion’s toys and games section is the most compact and comprehensive. It offers a variety of fun, interesting and reasonably priced “low tech” activities for kids of all ages, including hopscotch games, 9 pins, children’s card games, quoits, jacks, paper dolls, magnetic “paper” dolls, wooden peg travelling games, tops, whirly blades, paddle-ball games, crayons in a pocket-sized metal tin, and more! This shop is truly a gem when it comes to Sacramento shopping!
Cindy, Carol, and I especially wanted to visit the mansion when we heard it was in danger of being closed due to funding cuts. We finally got there, and learned from our guide that at one time the mansion was actually in danger of being torn down. We’re glad it was not. Also that right now, Raley’s stores and their reusable bag shoppers are helping to keep the Mansion open, one nickel at a time.
A Sacramento icon, the mansion remains a must-see thing to do in Sacramento for hometown tourists and out-of-town visitors alike. The mansion is a well-kept, intriguing, comfortable blend of historic artifacts, popular culture of its various times, engineering quirks, and even occasional whimsy. A visit to the historic Governor’s Mansion is highly recommended! The mansion is located steps from many downtown Sacramento hotels and downtown dining. Your attendance and support will help keep the mansion alive and open to visitors from near and far.