Chico, California, President Rutherford Birchard Hayes

The Bidwell Mansion

Construction of the Victorian era style Bidwell Mansion was completed in 1868. The mansion had three levels and 26 rooms when completed.

Bidwell had run for office twice, including a failed bid for California Governor. The Stanfords had frequently visited the Bidwell mansion, and the first U.S. President to visit California, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, spent part of his evening at the mansion.

The mansion has several paintings, including a large one of Bidwell himself, that have a “traveling eye” so that it appears that the person in the portrait is looking at you no matter what part of the room you are in. The traveling eye technique was utilities by various realist artists in the 1800s, before photographs were mainstream.

The Bidwells had no children to give their mansion to. The Bidwell Mansion became part of the California State Park system in the 1900s.

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