Fresno is well known for bad air quality but it also has its hidden gems. Much like all the other places we went to with the Humanics Program, Kearney Mansion was another.
I ran races at Kearney Park in high school and many festivals, recreations, and reenactments are done there, and standing in the back is the Mansion. He was born as Martin Theodore Carney, but by age 23 he was M. Theo Kearney, he made a way for himself by coming to California in 1869 and being hired to start a farm colony in Fresno. Selling land and starting a farm colony nothing could stop Kearney.
He had workers that worked for a Currency of his own making, only good at his shop, but some did well under Kearney. The Mansion that stands today was only the beginning, and although he never married or had children, he had a room for his caretakers kids. He became well known for his Raisins and was proclaimed the Raisin King by the 1880’s and he started the California Raisin Growers Association in Fresno that became the well known brand on Sun-Maid. He wanted a school for future farmers and agriculture and the University of California used today’s Kearney Park as an experiment site and became a park in 1949.
Even though the bees refused to leave me alone capturing the unique architecture inside and out of the mansion was a sure treat. Seeing and hearing about the treasures he brought back from his travels and trophies and signs of wealth, seeing no kitchen in the house, only a washmen’s closet, and no matter the heat outside the high ceilings and thick walls kept the house cool in the summer, but according to Dr. Simmons, quite warm in the winter too.
With such a historic and unique site, Ruth Lang, the Executive Director, only specific contractors can work on, restore, and preserve the site as Kearney wanted it. It is evident by the grape wallpaper, light fixtures, grand clock, and unique furnishing that this place will continue to attract visitors of all ages for years to come. They even do a special Christmas time tour with a tree in every room, just another sign, like the panels in the doors that Kearney enjoyed his wealth and showing it.