Bayley House
Pilot Hill, El Dorado County, California U
SA
CConstruction on the handsome Bayley House began in 1861, after A.J. Bayley's first hotel in Pilot Hill, the Oak Valley House, burned to the ground earlier that year. Prompted by this loss and rumors that the Central Pacific Railroad would soon be built through Pilot Hill, Bayley started construction on his biggest project.

He had every reason to believe that the railroad would be routed through the trail that John C. Fremont surveyed, which ran past his property, because it had already been established as a freight haulers route. He knew that the "Big Four" railroad barons were seriously considering this Fremont Trail as the route for the railroad to take on its journey over the Sierras to become part of the first trans-continental railroadad.

The 10,000 square foot Bayley House was built with 22 rooms, including two ladies' parlors, a bar room to the left of the entrance, and a grand ballroom on the third floor that doubled as an observatory. The 300,000 bricks that faced the exterior were manufactured on location, as was all the fine wood used in the house milled on the property. Rosewood and mahogany were imported from England. A double piazza supported by eight huge hardwood columns provided a shady retreat off the second floor where guests could relax and enjoy the view. A spectacular circular staircase wound sharply from the double-door foyer to the second and third floors, with a highly polished mahogany railing. To help keep the house warm and inviting, it was outfitted with six fireplaces, two with marble insets, and underneath it all was a huge wine cellar, where one of California's first winemakers stored the product of his vineyards.

 

In February of 1907, Ida M. Bayley Taylor et al, deeded the property to Thomas Stevenson, who was known as "The Money Lender of Greenwood." He sold the Bayley House in 1917 to John B. Wagner, Lillian Lafaille's father, who raised his family there and operated a cattle ranch on its 2,100 acres for 30 years. In 1946, Wagner sold the property to Clarence Steves of Corona. It was sold to Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. of Honolulu around 1967, who ten years later donated the house and 10 acres to El Dorado County. The Bayley House was designated a historic place by the County, and in 1978 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1989, it was purchased by the Georgetown Divide Recreation District, which is currently seeking funding for its restoration. The Bayley House is today a well-known landmark to the many travelers on Hwy. 49 and a stately tribute to the man who built it.

If you have any questions or comments about the history or restoration efforts on the Bayley House, please contact:

The Georgetown Divide Recreation District
Phone: (530) 823-9090
(530) 333-4000 (from Georgetown)

Mail: P.O. Box 1418, Georgetown, CA 95634
E-mail: info@thebayleyhouse.com

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