For more information and to buy tickets for the Sept. 8 event contact Karen Strand at or (209) 795-1408.

When the modest stone house that became Utica Mansion was built in 1882, Angels Camp was already more than 30 years removed from its first days as a gold mining camp.

Mark Twain had already made the town of Angels Camp famous in literary circles with his 1865 short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

So it’s not nearly as old as the town itself, or as old as the county’s most famous calling card, but today Utica Mansion is billed as the largest and grandest home in Angels. That’s how Judith Cunningham with Foothill Resource Associates, Inc. described Utica Mansion in a September 1983 nomination to have the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historians say the stone house was built by Robert Leeper, one of the owners of Utica Mine, a growing maze of tunnels all over and under the town of Angels Camp. Leeper and others sold the mine and the stone house to Charles D. Lane, who added wood-frame wings to the structure and more than doubled the size of the building in the 1890s.

Historians at the Oakland Museum of California say Angels Camp was booming by that time.

The first miners in Angels Camp beat most of the Gold Rush 49ers. The town was founded in 1848 and named for Henry Angel and his trading post. Miners worked the streams at first, and rich surface ores were mined in oxidized zones in the 1850s.

The Utica Mining Company was organized in the mid-1850s, and for the next 40 years the Utica mine was a major source of gold. By 1885, Angels Camp had become one of the major gold-mining districts in California. From 1893 to 1895 alone, Utica Mine yielded more than $4 million worth of gold.

Fast-forward to the mid-1980s, when Tad Folendorf bought the place. He was a city council member and mayor in the 1980s and 1990s. He raised his daughters, Alissa, a Bret Harte High School teacher, and Amanda, the mayor of Angels Camp, at Utica Mansion.

He and his ex-wife, Cheri Keifer, ran a bed-and-breakfast with three rooms for guests and a restaurant that could seat up to 50 people, at Utica Mansion from 1989 to 1993 while they lived there.

The mansion today has at least a dozen rooms, including four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a massive kitchen, an office and a dining room. It is said the place is haunted, but Folendorf still owns Utica Mansion and he still lives there and he insists there are no spirits lurking about.

There’s history in the mansion, including old maps that show Mother Lode mining claims from Altaville to Melones, and a more detailed map showing Utica Mine and Lightner Mine tunnels sprawling in multiple colors and directions under the surface of Angels Camp.

There’s also an old wooden headboard in one of the bedrooms. Folendorf says it used to belong to Judge Anson A.H. Tuttle, founder of Tuttletown in Tuolumne County in the late 1840s.

Tiles on a fireplace, showing a hare and a tortoise on one side, and a wolf and a lamb on the other, are said to date from the 1880s or 1890s.

On Thursday, Folendorf brought out old postcards, checks and metal, minted tokens from local bars and pool rooms in Angels and San Andreas, tokens that were “Good for 10 cents in Trade” at the Metropolitan Hotel in San Andreas, or “Good for One Drink” at Babe Raggio’s Pool Room at the Courthouse in San Andreas.

Next month, local volunteers plan to host a special dinner event at Utica Mansion to benefit the Angels Camp Museum Foundation Lecture Series.

Folendorf will open Utica Mansion to the public for tours on Sept. 8, followed by dinner catered by Pickle Patch on the Utica Mansion grounds. Tickets cost $40 each for museum members, $50 for non-members.

The Angels Camp Museum Foundation is a nonprofit that raises funds to support development and expansion of exhibits, collections, and programs of the Angels Camp Museum, located at 753 S Main St.

Contact Guy McCarthy at or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.