The McHenry Mansion was built in 1883 by Robert and Matilda McHenry at the corner of 15th and I Streets in Modesto, California. The Mansion was designed by Jeremiah Robinson, a Stockton contractor who constructed the Stanislaus County court house in 1872-1873.
Robert McHenry probably came to California prior to the Gold Rush and was involved in a variety of business enterprises. In the 1850 census he was listed as a trader living in Stockton. We know he established a butcher business with L.O. Brewster at Chinese Camp. Over the years, he acquired various parcels of land through purchases or the Homestead Act. Besides his cattle interests, he grew crops, one of which was winter wheat. In 1878, Robert McHenry became a director of the Modesto Bank and the following year its cashier. Obviously, he was prospering at what he was doing.
In 1880, Robert McHenry purchased five lots at the corner of 15th and I streets, the site of his future home. Construction began in 1882 using bricks from local kilns to construct the foundation. It made sense to have a house in Modesto, as well as at the ranch, since much of his time was now taken in running the day-to-day operations of the bank.
The house is constructed in the High Victorian Italianate architectural style that was popular at the time. It was finished in 1883.
Robert McHenry lived in the house until his death in 1890 and Matilda continued to reside there until her death in 1896. Their son, Oramil, moved into the house after that time with his wife, Louise, and their three children, Robert, Albert and Ora Louise. Oramil divorced his wife in 1901. Louise and Ora Louise moved in with her brother, Albert Bilicke, in Los Angeles at that time. In 1902, Oramil married Myrtie Conneau and they had one child, Merle, in 1903.
Oramil McHenry died of stomach cancer at the age of 44 in 1906. His widow, Myrtie, remarried in 1908 to William Langdon, a San Francisco attorney. Because of his commitments, they established a household in Alameda, but continued to use the McHenry Mansion for activities and business in Modesto.
In 1919, the house, although owned by the Langdons, became Elmwood Sanitarium. It remained as such until 1923. At that time it was converted into apartments and was known as the Langdon Apartments. Subsequent owners beginning in 1930 maintained it as an apartment house.
In I976, The McHenry Mansion came on the market. At the urging of the Mayor Lee Davies, who wanted it to be saved since Modesto was rapidly losing its historic buildings, Aileen and Julio Gallo purchased it through the Julio R. Gallo Foundation. The Mansion was given to the City of Modesto with the understanding that it was to be restored and also to be made available for community use.
Beginning in 1977, the Mansion restoration was undertaken to bring it back to its former appearance. It was opened to the public in 1983. On December 6, 2011, a fire caused extensive damage to the front of the building but smoke and water affected the entire structure. This second restoration will be completed in 2013.