The Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is a great park where you can spend a few hours touring an immaculate recreation of a historic home from Chico’s history. The house is only open for tours, and you cannot go inside without one. You can, however, walk around the grounds and see the carriage shed and architect’s house, so even if you only have a little bit of time, it is still worth visiting the grounds. Here is all the information on the tour.
- Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for kids
- 1 hour tour
- Free parking
- Hours: Sat – Mon: 11AM – 5PM, Closed Tues – Fri
- Location: 525 Esplanade, Chico CA, 95926
- Information from my visit in 2016
This home belonged to John and Andy Bidwell. They started building it in 1864, and they even planted the tree at the front right when they started (which is an excellent example of how much time has passed, you can see it in the below photo).
The Bidwell’s were part of the first wagon train into the area, when it was still located in Mexico. John worked for Sutter at Sutter Fort in Sacramento until he discovered gold near Oroville. He was able to mine enough gold to buy this land and start farming the area (22,000 acres), which he used to grow wheat, then nuts and fruit. He started the town of Chico to attract skilled workers to the ranch, and that is how the area became successful. The house is a recreation as most things were taken out when it was given to Chico State. They used images to try to recreate it exactly as it was though. The house was one of a kind for its age with eight coal-burning fireplaces and gas interior lighting. The house cost $56,000 to build and is 12,000 square feet.
I am not a huge history buff myself, but I found the tour to be a sufficiently unique experience that I can say I enjoyed learning about how the house and how the area came to be.
The tour goes over so much information that I won’t bore you with listing it all here, but here are some images of what the interior looks like.
Third Floor / Servant Quarters
As you can see, there is a lot to experience on this tour. These are just some of the rooms that you will be going through, and the guides that lead the tours are incredibly knowledgable and can answer any questions that you have. All in all, I enjoyed my time here as it was a unique state park to visit with a lot of exciting history. Be sure to check it out if you are in the area.