The house known as the Leland Stanford Mansion began as the home of Shelton C. Fogus, a prominant area businessman. Started as a more modest two story house, the mansion was enlarged (and even raised) by its most famous owner Leland Stanford, Sr. It served as the Executive Mansion for the state of California during Leland's single one year term and for his successor, Frederic Low. In 1871 the Stanford's began another ambitious expansion project which brought the mansion to its current size.
In 1900 Jane Stanford, widow of Leland Stanford, bequethed the residence to the Catholic Church of Sacramento to be used as an orphanage. The Stanford and Lathrop Home for Friendless Children was run by the Sisters of Mercy. In the ensuing years the house served many functions. A fire desttoyed portions of the 4th floor in the 1940s. In the 1950s the facility was overseen by the Sisters of Social Service. The home was made a State Landmark in 1957 and bought by the state through iminent domain in 1978. The sisters remained on the property until 1987. A major effort to renovate the mansion was begun in the early 90s which has brought the mansion to its current use as a State Park, and as California's Governor's protocol recieving building.
There is are no current reports of haunting, but it is said that Governor Stanford's son's ghost appeared and encourage him to built Stanford University
The lady at the front desk relayed this story to us about the haunting of the Stanford Mansion:
The Stanfords had tried unsuccessfully for 18 years to have a child, then at the age of 39 Mrs. Jane Stanford conceived later gave birth to Leland Stanford, Jr. She and her husband centered their lives around their son. When Leland Jr. was 15 the family went to tour Europe as a celebration before the younger Stanford would move back east to attend college. While in Europe, Leland Jr. contracted Typhoid Fever and died.
Devestated by the loss of their only child, the Stanfords had cried until they could cry no more, and in the sleep that exhaustion brings, Leland Stanford, Sr. believed that he saw his son appear to him. His son told him to give all that he wanted to give to his son to all the children of California instead. Inspired by this, Leland Sr. visited the great colleges of the East Coast, Yale and Harvard, and then founded a university on land in Palo Alto that the younger Leland Stanford had enjoyed as a youth. He named it after his son, and Stanford University was born.
Jane Stanford tried for many years to contact her son through the use of mediums.
The gift shop and visitors center was nice. They have a video on the history of the building, and a model that helps demonstrate the different phases of the mansions growth.
There is, unfortunately, no photography allowed within the mansion, but pictures of the interior can be purchased in the gift shop on postcards and in books on the history of the mansion (at gift shop prices, of course), which is why our photographs are limited to the exterior. The mansion is beautiful, however, and it is unforunate that you have to take our word for it or find other photographs online.
Our guided tour was just the three of us. Our guide, Janine, was close to our own age and put up with our joking and was able to joke with us. At the end of the tour she told us that we were the most fun group of her day.
The building still serves official functions for the State of California, and is therefore sometimes not able to be toured.