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McHenry Mansion may be fire-damaged but still open for tours

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McHenry Mansion may be fire-damaged but still open for tours


POSTED June 9, 2012 1:26 a.m.

Modesto’s historic McHenry Mansion may be down but is not completely out.

A fire in December 2011 mostly destroyed the front of the building, but fortunately not the entire façade. The front door and ornate leaded glass inset is about the only thing that needs replacement. The inside of the building, however, was smoke-damaged which required the carpeting to be removed and replaced. The displays in the various rooms which were damaged by the smoke also needed to be cleaned.

The front of the mansion is shrouded by a white construction material. But while crews are busy working inside and out of the building, the mansion remains open to the public. Visitors, though, have to enter through the gate along 15th Street.

Built in 1883 by prominent rancher/banker Robert McHenry, the mansion is an example of the Victorian Italianate style of architecture. The imposing white building in downtown Modesto was converted into apartments in 1923. The mansion ceased to be an apartment building in 1976 when the Julio R. Gallo Foundation purchased it and donated it to the City of Modesto to be renovated and restored to its original historical glory that the community can enjoy and use.

Inside, the mansion is decorated with antiques from the period when Robert McHenry and wife Matilda lived in the mansion – 1883-1896. Two rooms on the second floor are furnished with antiques reflecting the time when their son, Oramil McHenry, lived in the mansion – 1896-1906.

Now owned by the City of Modesto, the McHenry Mansion is on the National Register of Historic places and is accredited by the American Associations of Museum. Providing additional support for the mansion is the McHenry Mansion Foundation, a non-profit group established in 1983.

In addition to the regular tours, the mansion is available to the public for such events as weddings, receptions and special events.

Group tours may be arranged by calling the Modesto Recreation and Neighborhoods office at (209) 57-5344.

Like the McHenry Museum, which is just a block down I Street, the McHenry Mansion has a gift store where items reflecting the Victorian era are available for purchase.

The McHenry Mansion is located at 15th & I Streets in Modesto, telephone (209) 577-5235, e-mail Tour hours are Sunday through Friday from 12:30 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the mansion web site at


209 staff reporter

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