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Stories from the valley

The Elk Grove House and Stage Stop Museum: A Hidden Historic Gem

Contributed by Keli Gwyn

Heritage Park in Elk Grove is home to several historic buildings, the crowning jewel being the Elk Grove House and Stage Stop Museum. Built by James Hall in 1850, the city’s founding father, the original hotel was a welcome sight for weary travelers arriving by stagecoach.

The stately two-story brick building sat on the historic Monterey Trail, its large porch and balcony adding to its elegance. A ladies’ parlor, tavern, dining room, and lean-to kitchen occupied much of the bottom floor. Bedrooms and a ballroom were located upstairs.

Hall operated the hotel until 1859, when he sold it to the Graham family. The hotel and surrounding area, including all of Elk Grove Park to the Cosumnes River, was known as Graham’s Grove and Graham’s Lake. The grove was the first park district in the state.

The hotel passed through several owners—until the building got in the way of progress. In 1957, it had to be torn down to make room for the expansion of Highway 99. The Elk Grove Historical Society, working from drawings and photos of the original building, undertook the task of constructing a replica of the city’s historic hotel. The work, begun in 1985, was completed in 2000.

Visitors today will find it easy to imagine what the hotel looked like in its heyday. Thanks to a wealth of period-appropriate artifacts, one feels as though they’ve been transported to the Victorian Era. Knowledgeable docents are available to share the hotel’s history and answer any questions, but those as impressed with the place as I was are free to soak in the experience for as long as they’d like.

While at Heritage Park, be sure to visit the other historic buildings, which include the 1853 Foulks House, a blacksmith shop, and the 1912 San Joaquin Township Justice Court and Jail. The Foulks House, the oldest remaining residence in Elk Grove, relocated to the park in 2006, is currently undergoing restoration. The Rhoads School, a restored prairie school dating back to 1872, is a short walk away in Elk Grove Park.

The Elk Grove House and Stage Stop Museum is located at 9941 East Stockton Boulevard at the west entrance of Elk Grove Park. It’s open on the first Saturday of every month from noon to 4:00 pm. Admission is free. Click this link for more information.