Northern California has a million different types of houses. Where we lay our heads at night is important. It’s the place we call home. It’s our sanctuary spot, and looking at the place we live says a lot about ourselves. Spanish style, ranch, colonial, or just a good old suburbia design might be your cup of tea. But there are a lot of houses that are way different than you can imagine, and a lot more that have been around a long, long time. Either way, each one deserves a good old-fashioned shout-out for just being awesome.
1. McConaghy House, Hayward
Built in 1886, descendants lived here until the late 1970s. When rumors swirled that this house would be demolished for commercial buildings, residents in the area rallied to save it. And they did.
2. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose
Sarah Winchester was haunted by the fact her husband's rifle and invention had killed so many people, She believed that she was haunted by their ghosts, too. This mansion is over 7,000 square feet and has over 20 bedrooms and dozens of staircases that go nowhere. Spooky.
3. Meek Estate, Hayward
In the process of being renovated, this spot is dear to generations of families who have grown up in the area. Now a park and hopefully a future destination for many to be married --it's just lovely.
4. Kelly-Griggs Victorian, Red Bluff
A man who set out to find gold ended up instead as a cattle rancher and married the lovely Miss Griggs. This home stands today as a testimony to American dreams and their success.
5. Fischer-Hanlon House, Benicia
1856 is when Joseph and Catherine Fischer remodeled and moved into this home after a fire. Numerous family generations lived here until it was sold to the State of California in 1966. It's a remarkable example of middle-class living in the 1800s.
6. Bidwell Mansion, Chico
This 26-room Victorian was the home of John and Annie Bidwell. John was "famous" in his day as a farmer, a statesman, and much much more.
7. The Cottage at Empire Mines, Grass Valley
While we agree the mansion here is amazing, it's the empty gold mines that impress us most. Over 367 miles of abandoned mine shafts and stories of gold miners who struck it rich here. Now, you can tour the mines and enjoy a picnic lunch in their lovely gardens.
8. John Muir National Historical Site, Martinez
John Muir is legendary in Northern California. Environmentalist and philosophical writer, he paved the way for Yosemite to become a national forest and did more to protect the environment than a state full of recycling folks.
9. Mary Aaron Museum, Marysville
Marysville is another gold rush town born when nuggets were discovered. This building houses the archives and photos of a time long ago. Plus, Marysville hasn't grown much since then which makes this town like walking back in time.
10. McHenry Mansion, Modesto
This home was built in 1883 by a wealthy rancher and banker Robert McHenry. It was later turned into apartments but saved in 1976 from a future as a rental. Today it's one of Modesto's reminders of its past.
11. The Dunsmuir Estate, Oakland
This estate features over 16,000 square feet of living space. It is one of the most elegant homes in the Bay Area. The Dunsmuir Estate is a real draw during the Christmas season - it's decorated beautifully.
12. Lathrop House, Redwood City
Built in the late 1800s. This gem was owned by one of the founders of the Pacific Railroad. Mr. Lathrop also was the chairman of the board of supervisors for San Mateo county. He was kind of a busy guy.
Not everyone can live in a mansion, but it sure would be nice! Which one is your favorite?