STATUS: Open as a museum
Originally, the mansion was owned by its builder, Shelton C. Fogus, who was a wealthy building merchant in Sacramento, California. Leland Stanford, who was an upcoming politician of the Republican Party and the president of the Central Pacific Railroad, bought the house in June, 1861 for $8,000; this was only a short while before the election that would result in his governorship. The Stanford Mansion was his home as well as the state’s executive office. After his two-year term, Frederick Low and Henry Huntly Haight took the mansion respectively. Due to the flooding from the Sacramento River, Stanford had to attend his inauguration via rowboat in 1862. This led to the house needing to be raised twelve feet above ground level, as flooding was rather common. An additional two stories were added and the what-was 4,000 square feet large mansion (370 square meters) was expanded to a massive 19,000, becoming a four-story, French-design inspired mansion.
Stanford’s wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, oversaw the mansion after her husband’s death in 1893. The mansion was in a state of mayhem, constantly having to avoid bankruptcy, and assets had to be liquidated (this included their property in San Francisco). However, seven years later in 1900, she donated it to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento to be used for the orphan children of California. The Sisters of Mercy ran the orphanage under the name Stanford and Lathrop Memorial Home for Friendless Children.
Ownership was given to the Sisters of Social Service in 1932. They turned the orphanage into a residence for dependent high school girls. In 1940, a fire caused large amounts of damage to the fourth floor. Seventeen years later in 1957, the mansion became a State Historical Landmark.
Leland Stanford’s Mansion was acquired for use as a state park in 1978 after the California government purchased it, though the Sisters of Social Services remained there until 1987, when the California State Parks made it an official state historic park. On May 28th of the same year, the National Park Service, following the government’s decision, made the mansion a National Historic Landmark. Almost 150 years after it was built, the mansion became open for public tours in September, 2005 (though some sources say July 11th, 2006). It cost $20 million dollars to renovate the building to make it safe for visitors.
It is believed that the mansion is haunted, despite the fact there has been no investigation as far as anyone knows. One of the ghosts that appeared in the mansion was Leland Stanford’s son, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died when he was only 15 years old. He appeared to his father shortly after his death and requested that a university for men be built in his honor. Stanford, Sr. and his wife founded Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, which became one of the world’s top universities.
In addition, oppressing energy has been felt in some rooms of the house. Jane Lathrop Stanford also haunts the building thought she did not die in the mansion. Rumor has it that she died of Strychnine poisoning in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 1st, 1905.