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Travel Back In Time With A Visit to Bidwell Mansion SHP

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park

Looking to chase away the winter boredom? How about visiting one of the many state historic parks in the California State Park System?

One fine example is the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park, a beautiful three story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell in the city of Chico. This historic home features something to cover the interests for even the most finicky of tastes such as history, architecture and interior design.

John Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist. He also founded the city of Chico where the mansion is located. His wife, Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell, was the daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official and was deeply religious, while being committed to a number of moral and social causes. Annie was also very active in the women’s suffrage and prohibition movements.

For those interested in history, the house is full of history. The Bidwells greatly enjoyed entertaining their friends. Some of history’s great names, at various times, were guests at the Bidwell Mansion and included President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Leland Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.  Imagine the conversations that took place that shaped the United States during these visits.

Not interested in history. How about architecture? The Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems when it was constructed in 1865. This is particularly amazing considering that most homes at the time did not have indoor plumbing or running water. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa, an informal, warmly romantic style. The building's exterior is finished with a pink tinted plaster.

Do you like the glamour of interior design? If so, the mansion features marble topped tables, marbleized slate fireplaces with white lace curtains in the windows and wall-to-wall carpeting to showcase the exquisite furnishings of the Victorian era.

The mansion is easy to find from two major highways through California.

From Highway 99:  Take East First Avenue exit and head west.  Turn Left on Esplanade.  The Mansion is located on the right hand side of the road at Memorial Way and Esplanade.

From Highway 5:  Take Highway 32 exit at Orland east 20 miles to West Sacramento Avenue.  Turn left (east) onto West Sacramento Avenue to The Esplanade where you turn right (south).
The Mansion is located at 525 Esplanade.  Please visit the Bidwell Mansion SHP page for up-to-date visitor center hours and tour schedules.