The historic Camron-Stanford House is looking for enthusiastic, outgoing volunteers with an interest in local history and architecture. A guide training program is starting this month and organizers say there are still limited openings available for those interested in applying.
The Camron-Stanford House, next to Lake Merritt on Lakeside Drive near 14th Street, was built in the 1870s and occupied as a private residence to a succession of early pioneer families. Later the home was converted into a public museum owned by the city of Oakland in 1910. Since the 1970s it has served as a historic house museum on Victorian-era life, as well as a venue for weddings and special events.
A nonprofit organization, the Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association, maintains the building on behalf of the city and recruits and trains volunteers to give regularly scheduled guided tours.
The participants of the guide training program will have the opportunity to not only learn local history, but also the domestic life of the Victorian era and the architecture and decorative arts associated with the mid- to late 19th century time period. No previous guide experience is necessary, but a willingness to share what you learn is essential, program organizers say.
There are nine sessions over six weeks on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., plus two weekend morning sessions. Tour technique skills will be included and practiced, and a work book with written materials is a benefit of the course. The website, www.cshouse.org, reveals interesting highlights about the various people who lived in the Italianate-style mansion.
One of the intriguing early residents was a young heiress, Alice Marsh Camron, who was the daughter of a famous settler of eastern Contra Costa County, Dr. John Marsh. Alice was the only child of Dr. Marsh and his wife, Abigail; she lost both parents at a young age. Her mother died when she was a toddler and her father was murdered during a highway holdup that shocked the region's residents, according to the history files.
In 1876, as a newlywed 19-year-old, Alice Marsh and her husband, Will Camron, acquired the then-newly built Oakland Victorian house next to the lake from none other than Samuel Merritt himself (who was building and selling homes at that time). The couple's happiness in the house was short-lived, however. Their 2-year-old daughter, Gracie, died of a sudden illness. The Camrons moved away and never lived in the house again.
There are more stories about the lives and times of the people associated with this beautifully restored Oakland landmark. To learn more, visit the website or contact the guide training coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. The phone number is 510-444-1876.