National Register of Historic Places in Sonoma County
The McDonald Mansion was built by a San Francisco financier who came to Santa Rosa for real estate speculation and stayed to become a permanent resident. The mansion, named Mableton, was the finest structure in a 160-acre subdivision known as the McDonald Addition.
This unusual Stick style residence was strongly influenced by the Galveston style which is characterized by a long flight of broad entrance steps leading to an encircling columned veranda, almost concealing the entire ground level. The Galveston style originated in the South as a flood precaution, and the main floor of Mableton is some seven feet above the ground. Unlike Mableton, Stick style structures generally were built with a strong vertical line that included two stories with high gables, the height of the building being greater than the width.
The floor plan is typical of many large houses in the eastern and southern part of the United States. The placement of the first floor high off the ground and the modified hip roof with dormer windows are typical of many houses in the deep south designed to ameliorate intense summer heat. The high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and deep porches are also typical of southern architectural styles.
Most houses of this size in the period before 1895 were designed in the Queen Anne style with smaller rooms. This house is undoubtedly one of the few on the North Coast with such generous formal room size. The McDonald Mansion is probably the largest structure of this style still extant, and probably among the largest of this style built in California. Most structures of this size in San Francisco and Oakland were built in the Italianate or Greek Revival style.