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California Governors Who Lived in the Mansion and Milestones During Their Terms in Office

Governor George Pardee and his family were the first residents of the
Historic Governor’s Mansion.  During the next 64 years it was home to 12 other governors.

George C. Pardee moved into the newly acquired mansion in July 1903, served until 1907; wife Helen; State Board of Forestry was created, Yosemite Valley turned over to the federal government.

James N. Gillett, 1907-11; wife Isabella; Bank Act of 1909 became model for other states, bill paving the way for community colleges passed, state highway system created and funded.

Hiram Johnson, 1911-17; wife Minnie; Pure Food Act passed, women were granted the right to vote in state and local elections, comprehensive system of public utility regulation passed, nonpartisan elections for judges and school officials begin, eight-hour and minimum wage laws for women and children, civil service system starts, pensions established for teachers, commission formed to prevent “dreadful conditions of poverty.”

William D. Stephen, 1917-23; wife Flora; Workman’s Compensation system established, Child Labor Law enacted, Department of Agriculture and Department of Education created, kindergarten added to public school system.

Friend William Richardson, 1923-27; wife Augusta; Municipal Courts and Judicial Council established, first gasoline tax approved.

C. C. Young, 1927-31; wife Lyla; Toll Bridge Authority established to enable such projects as San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, bonds issued to create a comprehensive system of state parks, aid authorized for physically disabled person, water rights subjected to “reasonable” and “beneficial” use, Highway Patrol established, pensions granted to state employees.

James Rolph, Jr., 1931-34; wife Annie; Central Valley (water) Project authorized, labor camps established to relieve unemployment, sales taxes and taxes on alcoholic beverages enacted, horseracing authorized, Field Act setting school seismic standards passed in response to devastating Long Beach earthquake.

Frank C. Merriam, 1934-39; wife Jessie Steward Lipsey; Vehicle code established to supersede city and county ordinances, highways completed from San Luis Obispo to Carmel and through the Feather River Canyon, unemployment relief bonds passed, civil service system strengthened, income tax imposed, sales tax on food repealed, first modern clean-water law enacted, separate prisons authorized for women.

Culbert L. Olson, 1939-43; wife Kate; reforms in prisons and mental hospitals, protection emphasized for rights of labor and minority groups, counties forbidden to take liens on property of elderly in exchange for financial aid.

Earl Warren, 1943-53; wife Nina; Prison Reorganization Act sets new standards, authorization withdrawn for school segregation, Air Pollution Control Act established, low-rent housing projects authorized, California’s population expands faster than any other state in history and results in more schools, highways, hospitals, prisons and other public works projects being built than in any other comparable time frame.

Goodwin J. Knight, 1953-59; wife Virginia; Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control established, laws abolished that set of discriminatory standards for ownership of personal property, counties and cities authorized to levy sales tax.

Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, 1959-67; wife Bernice; Fair Employment Practices Act passed, Office of Consumer’s Counsel established, State Water Project begun, Master Plan for Higher Education adopted, comprehensive transportation planning implemented, Fair Housing Act passed, Medi-Cal authorized.

Ronald Reagan, 1967; moved from Governor’s Mansion after three months (served until 1975); wife Nancy; Therapeutic Abortion Act signed, Porter-Cologne Clean Water Act passed, mentally ill deinstitutionalized, no-fault divorce authorized, environmental impact reports required under California Environmental Quality Act, income tax withholding authorized, automatic cost-of-living welfare increases authorized.

This information was compiled by Richard S. Kimball for the California HISTORIAN. The information first appeared in an article titled "Former governor's abodes offer rare insight into past" which was published in the Spring 2007 issue of the California HISTORIAN, a publication of the Conference of California Historical Societies. Reprint permission for this information has been given to California State Parks. To learn more about California's history, use this link to visit the California HISTORIAN website.