Portrait of a Building: The Crocker Art Museum

Currently for work, I am living outside of Sacramento, California in Rancho Cordova. I have the weekends off, so I’ve been using those days to explore cool places in California. This past weekend, I visited the Crocker Art Museum, which is located on O Street in Sacramento. The streets in downtown Sacramento are named either by a letter or a number- it’s really interesting!

Front Facade
The Crocker Mansion can be called a number of things: Italianate, Italian Villa, and can even be said to be inspired by Mannerism of 16th Century Italy. Mannerism in architecture is characterized by visual trickery and unexpected elements. The exterior facade is constructed of weathered stucco over-coating.

The Crocker Mansion that makes up part of the museum complex was constructed in 1853 for pioneer banker, B. F. Hastings. The home was designed by Seth Babson. The original style of the home was classical in style.

In 1868, Judge Edwin B. Crocker purchased the property, which included the home and out buildings. Judge Crocker, was a judge for the supreme court for the state of California. When the home was purchased Judge Crocker and his wife, Margaret, had an extensive art collection that had been started by a trip to Europe. The Crocker family commissioned Seth Babson to renovate the home that he had designed originally in the 1850’s. The new plans included changing the style of the home into an Italianate Villa mansion and to add a gallery for the art collection to be displayed. These renovations were completed by 1872. The following images show the interior of the home:

 

The Crocker family were also keen on supporting social and civil causes in Sacramento. By 1885, Edwin had passed away and Margaret worked to establish an art museum from their collection. The museum was originally named the “E. B. Crocker Art Gallery” and was given to the city and placed in “trust for the public.”

History Plaque
This plaque can be found on the first floor of the historic building near the original front doors.

In 1887, Margaret moved east to New York, to be closer to her adult children. The E. B. Crocker Art Gallery happened to be the first public art building founded in the Western United States. The following are images of artwork I saw at the museum. The Museum allows non-flash photography throughout the galleries. All rights to the artwork are of the Crocker Art Museum:

 

Sometime after Margaret passed away in 1901, the building was given to the Fairhaven Home for Girls and then basically abandoned. It remained vacant until 1911, when the City of Sacramento purchased the property with donated funding from a Mrs. Sloat Fassett….Mrs. Fassett actually was Jennie Crocker, one of the daughters of Edwin and Margaret!

In more recent years the art museum has continued to flourish. In 1970, the Crocker Art Gallery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and became a state historic landmark.

National Register of Historic Places Plaque

1989, saw the building go through a number of renovations. The main home and the art gallery were connected and the historic facade was completely restored. In 2000, plans were started to construct a new addition to the historic building and within 10 years, the Teel Family Pavilion was opened. This new space basically tripled the square footage of the museum, allowing for more room galleries, administrative offices, and educational spaces.

Italianate and Modern Architecture Meet

Sources and Further Information:

https://www.crockerart.org/about

http://www.haunted-places.com/crocker.htm

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/e671de17-3822-4558-bd13-f76532fc2ae7?branding=NRHP

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannerism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apsara

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