Dr. Oscar Stansbury’s Historic Home in Chico
● By Al Rocca
Story and Photos by Al Rocca
WHEN VISITING CHICO, most people easily notice and admire the Bidwell Mansion just off the Esplanade, near downtown. However, another impressive historic home, the Stansbury Home, sits less than a mile away on the corner of Fifth and Salem streets. The beautifully preserved two-story house is a fine example of Italianate-Victorian styling, popular in the late 19th century.
At the age of 23, Oscar Stansbury, recently awarded his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, received an invitation from his cousin, Dr. George Griffiths, to take over his Chico area medical practice. Oscar arrived in the tiny town during the summer of 1875, set up shop and established his medical practice. A couple of years later, he returned to Maryland, keeping his promise to marry his fiancé, Libbie Manlove.
Back in Chico, Oscar and Libbie prospered along with the town. Children soon came along, and Oscar and Libbie decided to build a large and comfortable home close to his medical office in the growing downtown business center. In fact, he saw patients in several rooms of the Bank of Butte County Building. He also set up a small medical office in his home. Of course, more often than not, Oscar traveled to his patients via horse and buggy to rural farms and ranches around Butte County.
Throughout his career, Oscar lobbied city and county officials to legislate for and provide proper sanitation for the city of Chico. He also talked widely and passionately about personal hygiene. He successfully encouraged support for the California Pure Food and Drug Act of 1902. At one point in his career, Oscar journeyed to the Panama Canal Zone and studied efforts there to deal with malaria and yellow fever.
With his ever-growing medical practice, Oscar decided to invest in farmland. In 1887, he purchased a large working farm east of town. When he had some time to spare, Oscar liked to spend time talking with his partner, William Earll, who managed the sprawling property of olive and various fruit trees. Oscar died at age 74, leaving behind his three children: Middleton, Angeline and Ellen.
The beautifully molded window frames, carved balustrades and bracketed cornices all revealed the Stansbury home as one of the finest in the area. Middleton liked the home, but soon left to finish his schooling in the Bay Area. Later, he would assume his father’s role and become a physician. Angeline loved living in her home and treasured her early memories of running up and down the narrow staircase and into various rooms. She decided on a teaching career and went on to teach art at Chico High School for many years. When Ellen married a local boy and moved from the Stansbury home, Angeline remained. She dedicated her later years to preserving the original structure, living there until she died in 1974.
The City of Chico acquired the home two years later, and the Stansbury Home Preservation Association now maintains the property. Knowledgeable local volunteers conduct tours, beginning with the main living areas, the upstairs bedrooms and finally the beautifully maintained gardens and grounds. •
Don’t miss two of their biggest events:
• Stansbury Home Ice Cream Social (Sept. 22, 4-8 pm)
• Stansbury Home Victorian Christmas (Nov. 30-Dec. 2)
Home Tours: 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays (except for major holidays)
307 W 5th St., Chico • (530) 342-3037
www.stansburyhome.org • Find them on Facebook
Donation of $5, free for children 5 and under