California Road Trip: The California Governor’s Mansion


On the Friday of our December California Marathon Trip, we went to the runner’s expo in downtown Sacramento to pick up his race packet for the Sunday race.  We got downtown about lunchtime, so we had lunch first at the Coyote Tap House and Big Bowl Noodle Bar in downtown Sacramento.

Our server was really friendly, and the food was really good – I had the wonton noodle bowl with shrimp and Jon had the seafood noodle bowl.  They have an extensive selection of microbrews (which seemed a little out of place with an Asian restaurant), and a full bar.  It also seemed to be doing double duty as a sports bar, with big screen TVs everywhere, and a nightclub, with a large open area that could be a dance floor and a stage at the end of the building.  It seemed like the restaurant was trying too hard to be a little of everything, but it is still pretty new, only having opened on November 16, so perhaps they are still working the kinks out.

My Wonton Noodle Bowl at the Big Bowl Noodle Bar

My Wonton Noodle Bowl at the Big Bowl Noodle Bar

After the expo, we got some coffee and walked down to the Governor’s Mansion.  The mansion was built in 1877 for Albert Gallatin, a local hardware merchant.  It has 30 rooms, and three stories plus a cupola.  The State of California purchased the home, and the first governor of California moved there in 1903.  It was a governor’s mansion for 64 years, and was home to 13 governors.  The last governor to live here was Ronald Reagan in 1967  – he and Nancy lived here for about four months before they moved out.

California Governor’s Mansion

California Governor’s Mansion

The current CA governor, Jerry Brown, lived here for a time when his father was governor of CA in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  The docent told us a story about Jerry Brown’s sister Kathleen, who apparently liked to play pranks when she was a teenager living there with her parents.  One Halloween, she offered to hand out the candy while her parents went out to dinner.  Instead, she and a couple of friends climbed the tower with  a load of water balloons and proceeded to bombard the children with water balloons as they came by trick or treating.  With election day next week (fortunately not a re-election year for Governor Brown) there was quite the public relations debacle.

The Governor’s Mansion Christmas Tree

The Governor’s Mansion Christmas Tree

And the house?  It is a beautiful Victorian mansion with lots of ornate detailing on the door frames and windows.   But after 50 years as a California State Park, and a couple million tourists and schoolchildren coming through the home on tours, it is certainly showing its age.  It was last renovated in the 1960s, so some of the rooms show the décor from that time period.

The Stairs to the Cupola

The Stairs to the Cupola

Other rooms have been restored to look as they would have in the late 1800s.  Both the billiard room and the ballroom have been restored.  The kitchen is a 1950s assault on the senses, covered in white tile and aqua blue cabinets.  The home has servants quarters near the bedrooms for the family, but sadly, they are not open to the public.

Don’t you want this kitchen!

Don’t you want this kitchen!

Our docent was a man who had apparently spent a little time up in our neck of the woods in the 1960s or 70s.  Once he found out where we were from, he told us stories of his trip to Mt. Baker and the magic mushrooms that he was introduced to by his lady companion, “before they were illegal, of course.”  I assured him that now that marijuana is legal again in WA state, then surely psychedelic mushrooms can’t be too far behind….  You meet all kinds, if you are willing to lend an ear…

The Breakfast Room – John F. Kennedy had breakfast in this room

The Breakfast Room – John F. Kennedy had breakfast in this room

All in all, it was a good tour and a great afternoon.

Note: You can take photos in the Governor’s Mansion, as long as you don’t use flash.

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