MODESTO — The McHenry Mansion, restored to its former glory, marked its 130th anniversary by throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday.
Some 120 people checked out the restored entry, the new carpet and wallpaper, the polished chandeliers and the shined-up fixtures.
“It looks just like it did before,” said docent Margaret Scheuber, who was keeping a tally of the people who trickled through the landmark at 905 15th St. in downtown Modesto to see the work done since a Dec. 6, 2011, blaze damaged the entryway.
People chatted up the docents, who were all in period costume, as they meandered through the landmark, slowly taking in the meticulous restoration that made everything old new again and everything new fit the Victorian era. Among them was Marilyn Sena, 74, of Ceres, who recalled the mansion’s days as an apartment house in the 1960s.
“I think it’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous,” she said. “It’s really awesome what you guys have done.”
The fire started near a porch lighting fixture. Although flames touched very little, automatic sprinklers in the first story reacted, causing water damage. Smoke vented through the third-floor attic, leaving a grimy trail of soot. Elbow grease and gentle cleansers scrubbed clean what could be saved, from thousands of square feet of wall coverings to 75 cases of books.
The first professional cleaning in decades was done last year and restored damaged oil paintings to a better, brighter condition. Fire investigators are certain the fire was not intentionally set, because a forensic analysis of the wood samples eliminated flammable liquids as the cause. Its cost, however, has added up, totaling at least $2.4 million to date – all covered by insurance.
People took in the restored rooms, as well as the completion of the boys bedroom and the addition of the bridal suite for those who choose to marry at the mansion. Victorian games were available to children in the garden, and a lemonade stand sold cookies and lemonade.
The extensive restoration allows the venue to return to hosting weddings, school tours and other scheduled functions. To schedule a wedding, anniversary or a similar event at the McHenry Mansion, call Laura Mesa at (209) 652-7190.
To schedule school group tours, call (209) 577-5235.
Bee staff writer Sharon K. Ghag can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2340.