Governor’s Mansion Management

Significant historical properties—or open space/recreational properties like the American River Parkway—such as the Governor’s Mansion on H Street will do much better under control of a nonprofit organization than under state government.

The state could retain ownership, but management and fund raising will proceed much more effectively if done by a nonprofit, and an excellent example is the management of two historical properties that the Galt Area Historical Society (GAHS) has managed for several years, and which has been very successful.

As a member of the GAHS McFarland Ranch Committee during the year-long negotiations with Sacramento County Parks to obtain a long lease for management and fundraising for the McFarland Ranch, home of Galt’s founder, I was able to witness the dedication and time required to construct an agreement benefiting both organizations and the public.

The other historic building the GAHS manages is the Rae House.

Their work in the support and management of both of these properties is a wonderful model for other nonprofit organizations to emulate.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee on a story about the Governor’s Mansion.  

“Sacramento’s lavish Victorian-style Governor’s Mansion will remain open as a state park, thanks to thousands of environmentally minded grocery shoppers.

“At a special event tonight, the Raley’s grocery company plans to donate $75,000 to keep the park from closing on July 1 due to state budget cuts. The money came from a Raley’s program called “NickelAid,” in which the company donated 5 cents toward state parks every time a customer shunned throwaway bags and took groceries home in a reusable bag instead.

“Their response was overwhelming, and it is clear our state’s parks hold a special place in all our hearts,” said Jennifer Teel-Wolter, community relations manager at West Sacramento-based Raley’s, which also owns Bel Air, Nob Hill and Food Source.

“The Governor’s Mansion at 1526 H St.was home to 13 governors and their families over 64 years. It was built as a private home in 1877 in a highly decorative Victorian style. The state bought it from the second owner in 1903.

“Over the years, it housed such luminaries as Earl Warren, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown and Ronald Reagan, who was the last governor to live in the mansion. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, lived there for only the first three months of his first term, then moved to a private residence in Sacramento.

“Since then, the mansion has been a museum, a place where visitors can experience the gubernatorial marble, gilded mirrors, custom doorknobs and ornate gardens.

“The old house has always represented an important part of the story of California governance. Now, its rescue from the state parks closure list will become part of that complicated tale.

“We all have an obligation to preserve these sacred places for future generations,” said Cathy Taylor, capital district superintendent for State Parks. “Keeping them open is a big part of that, because we are able to educate people and help them understand why our history and heritage is so important.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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