James Lick Mansion

554 Mansion Park Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054, United States

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73875056

The James Lick Mansion in Santa Clara, California, is the estate of James Lick, the richest man in California at the time of his death in 1876. The estate is registered in the National Register of Historic Places. This property was once part of the Rancho Ulistac land grant, a square league stretching south from the Alviso coast and encompassing all the land between the Guadalupe River and the Saratoga Creek.

The James Lick Mansion is a complex of buildings that reflect the varied uses of the property throughout its history. Major historical buildings include a brick granary and mill pond from the original mill built by James Lick around 1855, a large house built by Lick around 1858, and a late Victorian office building. James Lick was born in Pennsylvania in the year 1796. After a successful career as a piano builder in South America, he came to San Francisco in 1848. Lick went to Santa Clara County from San Francisco. This Italianate mansion was built by Lick between 1858 and 1860 next to his flour mill.

Shrewd investment in real estate at the time of the gold rush made Lick the richest man in California by 1873. When he died in 1876, James Lick left an estate worth more than three million dollars for various public projects, most of which went to establish the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, where he was buried. Lick generously gave his estate to charitable and scientific organizations. The Home of Benevolence, the San Jose orphanage for many years, was founded by one of Lick’s grants and was later known as the Eastfield Children’s Home.

It is now part of the Children and Family Services EMQ. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1882 and in 1902 the Lick Mill complex was converted to the manufacture of alcohol. A number of owners, including Union Distilling, Western Grain and Sugar Products, Western Carbon Gas, American Salt and Chemical, and Commercial Solvents and Chemicals, produced a wide variety of products at this location. The site was sold to a developer in the 1970s. The Lick Mansion and the grounds have been preserved and the public can visit today.

The Lick Mansion and the grounds are situated at Lick Mill Blvd., Santa Clara, on the grounds of the Mansion Grove Apartment complex. The grounds are now privately owned and closed to the general public. The City of Santa Clara disputes this statement – although the property was recently purchased by a private owner, the grounds remain subject to the right of public access to visit this important historical resource.


This amazing historical landmark is just one of the many must-see landmarks you don’t want to miss in San Jose, California:

  • Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site
  • Luis Maria Peralta Adobe
  • César Chávez Family Home 
  • History Park
  • Winchester Mystery House
  • St. James Park – San Jose History Walk Marker #23
  • Southern Pacific Railroad Steam Locomotive #1215 
  • Olympic Black Power Statue  

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 3880 South Bascom Avenue in San Jose, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!