The Meux Home
Most nearby counties – Mariposa, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, San Benito, Madera – and our own, have museums of county history. Surprisingly, Fresno County doesn’t.
The Fresno Historical Society has a long-term goal of developing one at Kearney Park, but it may not happen for many years to come.
That said, Fresno does have two meticulously preserved and restored mansions – the Meux Home and the Kearney Mansion. The city of Fresno was laid out by the Central Pacific Railroad in 1872, but not incorporated until 1885.
The Meux Home was built in 1888-89, just after the incorporation. At that point the town had about 10,000 residents.
The Meux Home is one of the oldest surviving structures in the town. Built for Dr. Meux and his wife Molly, it was occupied by the Meux family from 1889 to 1970. Dr. Meux was a surgeon in the Confederate Army from 1861 to 1865. The Meux family moved to California in 1887 because of Molly’s poor health.
Although Molly continued to suffer poor health and eventually became both deaf and blind, the climate of Fresno was an improvement for her and she survived until 1922. Her daughter Anne lived in the house until her death in 1970. Anne’s occupation of the home insured its preservation with few changes. After her death, the house sat vacant for a couple of years but was eventually restored to its original splendor.
When you visit
Visitors can enjoy that splendor on docent-led tours offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from noon to 3:30PM. Tours are conducted by well-informed docents in period costume. Visitors learn about the Meux family, the Victorian era, and the early history of Fresno. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for teens 13-17, $3 for children 5-12, and free for children under 5. The home is also available for rent for weddings and other special occasions.
The Meux Home Museum offers a number of special events and displays throughout the year.
- February: Flapper’s Valentine Party
- Spring: Lampshade Guild Display
- Mother’s Day Tea
- September-October: Fall Festivities (more information to follow on the Meux Home’s website)
Information about Tours
Tours include ten ornate rooms on both the first and second floors. Special exhibits and displays change seasonally. The first floor is accessible to all visitors regardless of mobility via a wheelchair lift. The Meux Home is located at 1007 R Street in Fresno (corner of R and Tulare), between the 99 and 41 freeways.
For more information, go to http://www.meux.mus.ca.us/index.html or call (559) 233-2331. Free parking is located next to the Meux Home.
I really enjoyed my tour of the Meux Home. I’d always had trouble picturing Fresno’s Victorian period, but the house brought it to life for me. One of the biggest surprises was that the home was considered a middle class residence in the time it was built.
Today its ornateness and size make it seem like a home built for a family further up the economic scale.
Learning about the past
Visiting historic sites like the Meux Home is a great way to learn about the past. Sometimes these places challenge our expectations and assumptions about other ages.
While in the area, there are a number of other historic landmarks to see. Although many of Fresno’s oldest homes have been lost to time and progress, there are a number of interesting structures in the vicinity.
St. John’s Cathedral
A block northwest of the home at R and Mariposa Streets is Fresno’s St. John’s Cathedral. Dedicated in 1903, the brick cathedral was carefully restored between 1997 and 2002.
The structure was seismically retrofitted, a new slate roof was installed, and the artwork and stained glass windows were meticulously restored by an art conservator and restorer who had previously worked on six of the California missions and San Jose’s cathedral.
If there isn’t a service in progress, you can take a quiet and respectful look inside the cathedral after you tour the Meux Home Museum.
For more information go to http://stjohnsfresno.org/.
Fresno’s iconic American Romanesque water tower, built in 1894, is also nearby. Located at 2444 Fresno Street, it serves today as a galley for local artists.
It is open 10AM-4PM Monday-Saturday, except federal holidays.
For more information
It offers information about Fresno-area activities and recreation. There’s also an Art Hop reception on the first Thursday of each month from 5 to 8PM.
For more information go to http://www.artbyhandgallery.com/
or call (559) 477-6231.
Other historic homes within an hour’s drive of Merced that offer tours include:
- Bloss House, Atwater – built 1914
- Kearney Mansion, Fresno – built 1903
- McHenry Mansion, Modesto – built 1883