Northern California has an incredible history, and luckily for those of us interested in the past we have many well preserved artifacts and buildings left over from the generations that came before us.
One of these uniquely Northern Californian historical sites is the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park in Chico. Keep reading to learn more about why this old mansion is a true Northern Californian gem.
The Bidwell mansion is located at located at 525 Esplanade in Chico and was built in 1868 for John Bidwell and his bride Annie.
John Bidwell was a classic rags to riches individual who first gained recognition by guiding pioneers out west on the California Trail.
After discovering gold, becoming a wealthy landowner, establishing the town of Chico around his farm, serving in the Mexican-American War and in the, and becoming a U.S. congressman, John finally built his dream mansion after marrying his wife.
The three story, 26 room Victorian house became the social and cultural center of the upper Sacramento Valley.
Annie was a woman’s suffragist and education activist from back east. The two lived in the Bidwell Mansion in Chico until John’s death at age 80 in the year 1900.
Annie lived in the mansion for another 18 years until she too passed away and gave the home to the Presbyterian Church.
Annie was also responsible for donating 2,238 acres (almost ten square miles) of land in Chico for preservation. Since then the land has remained in the public trust and is now known as Bidwell Park.
The power couple who lived here are responsible for the place Chico is today, and over the years, their home has been lovingly cared for and restored by the people of Chico.
It’s now a historic state park and that is accessible for handicapped visitors as well as those who want to climb the steep stairs up to the 3rd floor.
The interior looks much the same as it did a hundred years ago. When it was built in the 1800s, it was a state of the art home with modern plumbing and other amenities.
The three-story brick structure is built in an informally romantic version of the Italianate style. It also has aspects of the Italian Villa and Octagon house types present.
The building’s exterior is finished with a pink tinted plaster. It’s a lovely place to visit and an incredibly interesting part of Northern California’s history.