National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County
Overlooking Lake Merritt from a eucalyptus shaded lawn near the center of downtown Oakland, this Italianate residence was built by James Cameron for his wife Alice Marsh. Cameron was the grandson of the Reverend John Cameron of New Salem, Illinois, a friend of Abraham Lincoln. Alice was the only daughter of California pioneer Dr. John Marsh.
According to one observer, theirs was "an extravagant establishment....there were servants, a coachman, carriages, horses and harness mounted in silver."
In 1880, the Camerons sold the house to Josiah Stanford, farmer and brother of Leland Stanford, Sr. During the near quarter-century that it remained the Stanford residence, it was the scene of many brilliant social events. President Rutherford B. Hayes was entertained there.
In 1907, the property was purchased by the City of Oakland for use as a civic museum. The new Oakland Public Museum hired Charles P. Wilcomb, former Curator of the Golden Gate Park Museum in San Francisco. Wilcomb filled fourteen rooms with more than 12,000 ornithological, anthropological and ethnographic objects.
The Oakland Public Museum closed shortly before the nearby Oakland Museum of California opened in 1967.
The Cameron-Stanford House Preservation Association raised funds to save the building from demolition. The building was reopened to the public in May 1978 and has remained a teaching institution and a venue for private events.
Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1972 and the Cameron-Stanford House website.