“The Campaign to Save Ralston Hall” has raised a total of $20.2 million of a $26 million renovation plan for this National Registered Historic Landmark.
Many summer homes were built in the late 1800s by financial leaders and early citizens of California, but the Ralston Mansion is the only one that has not had any major changes since the 1870s. It’s structure and garden has attracted many over the years, but it now remains closed as it awaits its renovation.
The Ralston Mansion renovation will allow it to become a place of gathering for everyone to enjoy once again. It will be open to the students and faculty of Notre Dame de Namur University as well as to the public. The third floor will be available as a learning center. The first floor will be used as a rental for social events which will provide an important revenue stream for NDNU.
“I don’t really care about Ralston Mansion since I haven’t experienced it for myself, but from what I’ve heard it was pretty cool in there,” said Renaeivy Roque, a senior at Notre Dame de Namur. “So my hope is that it actually gets renovated so we can use it.”
Its renovation budget is $26 million and the “The Campaign to Save Ralston Hall” has already raised $20.2 million. There has been many donations with an extensive list of several foundations, alumni, community members, faculty and staff.
The renovation plan is underway and construction will begin early next year, 2018, if the budget is met. Once it starts, the construction will take around 18 to 24 months.
When the Ralston Mansion was first built, it was the country showplace of William Chapman Ralston who lived from the years 1826 to 1875. He was a businessman, financier, and founder of the Bank of California. He used his home to entertain several great figures and used its setting to show off the potential of California to its visitors.
“I believe that the Ralston Mansion is important to the university because of the history it has from the previous owners to where it stands now. I hope after renovations students will be able to access and utilize the mansion with more student friendly programs,” said Andy Urbina, a senior at Notre Dame de Namur.
In 1922, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur purchased the mansion and it became their dormitory, dining hall, chapel and residence. It later became an office space and also served as a recreational area for students and staff once other buildings were built on campus. The mansion was used for dances, recitals, meetings, concerts and other student activities. It has also been very popular for hosting weddings and social events for the community.
“It was the heart of the campus,” said Denise Winkelstein, Director of Advancement Special Events and Stewardship.