A Visit to Glenwood Farmhouse at Patrick Ranch


What was once a working ranch in Butte County, is now a museum dedicated to teaching history, science, and agriculture. Patrick Ranch Museum is located on 28 acres between Chico and Durham. Today my OLLI group toured the 1877 Glenwood Farmhouse at Patrick Ranch. The property was bequeathed to the Chico Museum Association (later the Far West Heritage Association) by the last ranch owner, Hester Grimm Patrick, and her husband William Garrison Patrick.



William Northgraves

The farmhouse was built by Cornelius Bryant on land belonging to William Northgraves, an early Butte County pioneer. Northgraves, born in England in 1806, came to California in 1846. He mined with John Bidwell at Bidwell’s Bar in 1848-49 and earned enough money to buy a large tract of land on the Hensley Grant south of Chico. Never much of a farmer himself, Northgraves made a deal with Cornelius Bryant in 1867, in which Bryant and his family could live on the land and farm it in exchange for looking after the property and the aging Northgraves.

In 1877 Cornelius (known as C.M.) built a substantial brick house, which he called Glenwood, on the Northgraves Ranch. The bricks were made on site.The house is laid out in typical Victorian style, on the same pattern as the Kelly-Griggs House in Red Bluff. The front door opens into a narrow hallway with a staircase on the right-hand side. To the left of the hall are two rooms, the formal parlor and a music room. To the right are two more rooms, a library and a dining room. This layout is mirrored upstairs, where there are four bedrooms. All the rooms are fairly small by today’s standards. Two of the bedrooms have adjoining bathrooms, which were added at a later time. (See comments for correction.)

DSCF4075Each of the downstairs rooms has a large ornate mirror over the fireplace, except the library, where the original mirror has been replaced by an engraving. The fireplaces look like marble, but are made of tin, painted with a faux marble finish.

What was once a breezeway, and is now enclosed, connects the north side of the house to the structure that contains the kitchen, ranch office, and upstairs servants’ rooms.

C. M. Bryant and his wife Sarah had four daughters, all of whom grew up in the house and were married in it. The Bryants were prominent citizens, and John and Annie Bidwell, as well as other local landowners, were frequent guests at their home.

DSCF4085When C. M. died in 1895, his daughters inherited the property and then sold it to brothers Adam and Henry Compton. From them it passed to William (Pat) Patrick and his wife Hester. The Patricks were childless and Hester bequeathed the home and 28 acres to the Chico Museum upon her death in 2002. The house has been preserved as it would have looked at the turn of the 20th century. It is filled with furniture, artifacts, and clothing that present a picture of life over 100 years ago.

Patrick Ranch is open on the weekends, and has frequent family-friendly events. Check out their website for opening times and upcoming events.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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4 Responses to A Visit to Glenwood Farmhouse at Patrick Ranch

  1. Sandy Hill says:

    As a volunteer, docent, and part time historian at the Patrick Ranch I have to make a correction to the history. The two upstairs bathrooms are original to the house. The top of the original cess pool or septic tank is out back by the lawn. Bidwell Mansion was finished in 1868, nine years before Bryant built his home so bathrooms were popular:-)

  2. nancyleek says:

    Thanks Sandy. They looked like they must have been added on later, but I was just guessing.

  3. Margaret siemsen says:

    A.comment about the water tower (tank house?). In the 1877 lithograph of Glenwood, the tank house in shown in a different style and in a slightly different location. Since construction on the house was started in April of 1877 and the drawings were made during the Summer of that year the drawing must have been made from plans as the construction was not likely finished. The tank house shown is very much like the one at the M and. T ranch. I have found articles in the 1877 newspapers referring to the start of construction but nothing saying when the Bryant’s moved in. Another mystery that Sandy Hill and I have tried to solve involves a man named George Elmore. He was a brother of Sarah Elmore Bryant. He came to California when the Bryant’s did. He was a mason and brick maker. We can place him in Chico in the fall off 1878. We feel, but have not found proof, that he helped with the construction of Glenwood. Three of his children died of diphtheria in late 1878. They are buried in the Chico cemetery. Family is listed as living “near Edgar Slough.”

  4. nancyleek says:

    Thanks for the comment. Is the tank house at Patrick Ranch still standing? I can’t recall whether I’ve seen one or not.

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