Monday, June 27, 2011

Bidwell Mansion






Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is another of the Parks scheduled to be closed at the end of the year.

It was built in 1868, about 15 years and 50 miles from the Ide Adobe which I wrote about in February.  Close in time and place but worlds away in comfort and convenience.

Both of these historic sites are on the State Park closure list.
In 1841, John Bidwell was one of the first Americans to cross the Sierra and settle in the Sacramento Valley.  He made his money as a miner and merchant but his true interest was in agriculture and public service.  Along with his wife Annie, he championed women's suffrage.  He donated land for the establishment of a normal school which today is California State University, Chico.









This was a thoroughly modern home for it's time.  The heated air from an alcohol lamp below the fan rose, turning the fan in the days before electricity.









The house had running water and flush toilets.








The globes face up because these were originally gas lamps.  The valves can be seen on the tubes that both support the lamps and supply the gas.

When electricity became available they were converted to that power source.










There was even a built-in oven.  Everything was up to date in this home.

It was a large house for a couple with no children but they entertained the notable people of their time: President and
Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, Civil War General
William Tecumseh Sherman and naturalist
John Muir were some of the guests in this gracious home.






It is unfortunate that the citizens of California are willing to see their parks close.  These historic sites are a window into the past for those who assume there were always modern conveniences.  The Ide Adobe and Bidwell Mansion together show both the evolution of modern life and the vast difference in life between the poor and the affluent, something that is not always obvious today when almost everyone seems to have an i-pod and a cell phone, even if they don't have a home to put them in. 

16 comments:

Sylvia K said...

It is so sad to read of so many park closures! What a loss for us and our country! Your photos are marvelous as always, Martha, at least this lovely place will be preserved for you through them. Enjoy your day!

Sylvia

Gary said...

Agian sorry to see that!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Ms. Becky said...

it is a shame that these parks are closing. but I venture a guess that in better economic times they will be re-opened. at least, that is my hope. gee, perhaps Bill and Linda Gates could be persuaded to share a fraction of their fortune to keep this historical home open. it's truly a national treasure. thanks for sharing. and I hope you have a wonderful week Martha!

forgetmenot said...

What a lovely historic home. I love to go through them--such fun to learn about the past. We all need to realize how important it is to preserve wonderful places like this ( I guess there never is enough money to take care of everything). Mickie

Denise said...

I love to visit anything like this, it's a beautiful old home. I hope CA will realize the folly of closing these places. It would be a great loss to us all.

Linda Reeder said...

Nicely done. Budget cuts are so devastating, and most states are experiencing them. we will probably go to a state parks fee permit attached to our auto license tabs. But that won't be popular, and if it has to come to a vote, it will probably fail. People are very short sighted.

Gaelyn said...

I hate to see any parks close. These special places were set aside for a very good reason for the people to enjoy and learn from. This home tells a wonderful story. Yet now days, it seems stories only matter when they are a lie.

Linnea said...

It is sad that this one is slated for closure. You've shared some terrific shots with us. I couldn't believe it when that small tax measure didn't pass that would have kept all of our state parks open...go figure...

Janie said...

What a shame to see these historic parks close. Your photos and commentary show that this place provides a great history lesson, one that future generations should have a chance to see for themselves.

katney said...

So far as I know, Washington is not closing any state parks. Beginning tomorrow, we will have the Discover Pass--a required permit to enter the state parks. It will cost $10 for a day pass or $30 for an annual pass. A good value if it will keep our parks open.

We just returned from a camping trip with the kids and grandkids to a state park we visited often whent hey were little. Tomorrow we would have needed the Discover Pass.

Barb said...

This is an example of living history that is so meaningful to both young and old. I wonder what will become of these buildings and their contents? Will they be barricaded?

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Do you know what the State will do with the closed parks? Hire a caretaker? Let the home go to rack and ruin? Privatize it? Frightening. Your pictures are great and I am so glad that you are making the effort to visit each of these parks. Before they are gone. I wonder if the Parks Dept (whatever it's called in your State) would be interested in your posts for their archives. Someday maybe things will improve.

joan said...

This is a beautiful home. My daughter was at Chico State for 4 years, so we went up often. Bidwell park is a great area to walk and bike. So pretty.

Lindy MacDuff said...

Thank you for sharing your tour and beautiful images of Bidwell Mansion with us.

So many states are suffering the same issues. I just posted on my blog about the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site being closed down due to budget cuts (but it wasn't because no one cared). Thank goodness he will at least be remembered through the Indiana University School of Journalism.

Lindy MacDuff said...

I guess I should clarify my comment above - "but it wasn't because no one cared." I was solely referring to the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site - not California or any other state.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes.
=(

La Principessa Errante said...

I too am a native, 5 generations BOTH sides of my family. I am so thrilled to find your blog, and so grateful that your are putting history onto the blogsphere. I worry about the loss of our parks, and other treasures and am so glad someone is at least documenting them. Thank you!