Historic Structures

Stanford-Lathrop Mansion, Sacramento California

Date added: January 13, 2017 Categories: California House Mansion

The original owner and builder of the house was Shelton C, Fogus, a pioneer merchant of Sacramento. Fogus was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1817; he was a veteran of the Mexican war and painted a large scene of the fall of Col. John Hardin at the Battle of Buena Vista (1847), which he later took about the country. In 1856, Fogus bought two lots at the southeast corner of 8th and N streets, in Sacramento, from William Dodd; Fogus then built a small structure on the property at an estimated cost of $2,000. In 1857, Seth Babson (born 1828 in Maine, died 1907 in California) was commissioned to design a fine house of brick and plaster. This house and property were deeded to Leland Stanford for $8,000 cash in 1861. (The sale was executed on July 10, but recorded on July 11. The assessor's records indicate the sale of "lots 1 and 2"; see Book 31, p. 78. $8,000.00 was less than the 1858 assessed valuation of the property. Shelton Fogus left Sacramento in 1862 to seek his fortune in the Comstock; he became a founder of Reno, Nevada, and made and lost two small fortunes in that area.) On September 4 1861, Leland Stanford became Governor of California, after having once failed in the effort. His inauguration took place on January 10, 1862. Returning from the inaugural ceremonies in a row boat (the winter of 1861-62 saw severe flooding of Sacramento), the Governor found his new house inundated to the level of the parlor windows; some of the furniture was floating in the first floor rooms of the two-story house. (The Stanfords had previously occupied a modest house on 2nd Street, between 0 and P; Leland had been trained as a lawyer in New York state, but came to California in 1852 and opened a general merchandise store at Gold Springs, near Placerville. He moved to Michigan City, California, until 1855, when he went to Albany to get his wife, Jane Eliza Lathrop.)

In addition to the loss of interior fittings, the flood of 1862 caused severe loss of trees and garden plantings; about three hundred wagon loads of silt and debris were removed, and seven or eight hundred trees, plants and vines were replanted. In I863, the Stanfords leased their home to F. F. Low (the lease effective December 1, 1863 for a period of four years), the newly elected Governor from December 10, 1863 to December 4, 1867. The lease was apparently modified, for Leland Jr. was born here on May 14, 1868. (He died on March 12, 1884 of typhoid, fever, in the Grand Hotel, Florence, Italy.) Various quasi-legendary stories center around Leland Jr.'s first days in the house, such as his being presented as a small baby to assembled guests on a silver salver, etc. Minor changes to the house occurred throughout the 1860's the major changes took place in 1871-72, when the affluence of the Stanfords indicated more ample entertainment facilities. (The assessment of the property after 1872 was $45,000—a considerable change from the $8,000 Stanford had paid in 1861.) In February of 1872, a famous reception in honor of Governor Newton Booth, gave the revised house greater social distinction. On February 25, 1873, Mrs. Elizabeth Stanford, Leland Sr.'s mother, died in the house at the age of 82 years and 10 months. By this time, even the glories of the revised house could not hold the Stanfords in provincial Sacramento, and they left in 1874 for the splendors of a more pretensious mansion on Nob Hill (southwest corner of California and Powell) in San Francisco. Mr. Stanford died in 1893, and Mrs. Stanford gave the Sacramento house to Bishop Grace of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on April 18, 1900—accompanying the gift with an endowment of $75,000 to make the home into an orphanage. Administered first by the Sisters of Mercy, in 1936 the Stanford-Lathrop Memorial Home passed to the Sisters of Social Service to be used as a home for problem adolescent girls. The Home is open by request at any reasonable hour of the day-depending on the Sisters' schedules.