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Sequoia House History
The Sequoia House, also known as the Bee-Bennett house was built in 1853 by Colonel Frederick A. Bee in the “gold rush” town of Placerville, California. It is the only building in the legal
description of the city, founded in 1854. Colonel Bee was the founder of the first trans-Sierra telegraph appropriately named Bee Telegraph Company. The owner of Sequoia reminds us that he coined the phrase, “Bee Line” and, “Heard it on the Grapevine”.
Although his chosen profession was to be an attorney, this ambitious man played a major role in constructing the San Francisco and North Pacific Railways. He did this after getting the Pony Express established between St. Joseph and San Francisco.
In 1889, the now thirty-five year old house was sold to Judge Marcus P. Bennett, a Harvard Law graduate, and his wife, Mary, a Placerville native. Together they fashioned the old house into a beautiful mansion. They had redwood from Oregon hauled down by freight wagons and used it to renovate the now 16-room house.
Marcus was prominent in the El Dorado County community serving as an attorney and later a Superior Judge. Mary, like her husband was extremely involved in Placerville society. She was proud of her
community and took pride in the development and history of it all. Mary was not only one of the first members of the Shakespeare Club but very involved in church and clubs and a wide range of civic activities. Together they had five daughters. Tragically their only son, Marcus Jr., did not live past the age of three. The Bennetts had property adjoining the now El Dorado High School property and Recreation Park named as a public memorial to Marcus Jr. Judge Bennett passed in 1925 and Mary in 1952.
The Placerville Elks chapter bought the beautiful old mansion in 1958. Some renovations were made but for the most part they tried to preserve its original beauty for what was now their new meeting hall.
In 2001, the mansion was sold once again. The current owners saved the home from succumbing to age. They made it the Sequoia Bee-Bennett House, a restaurant and event center in its restored 19th century manner. It is an excellent touch to the historic town of Placerville.
Sequoia House Hauntings and Ghost Stories
Hangtown has plenty of spooky tales and tragedies. They do not exclude the beautiful Bee-Bennett home. It is rumored that a child once fell through the floor and into a coal bin, suffocating.
Another tale says a little girl fell down the stairs to her death. There is no proof this ever occurred.
Either way, her spirit is said to play about the property, bouncing on people’s laps and making her known.
A more recent event happened during restoration of the mansion. On the same day an apparition of a man was seen upstairs and later, an apparition of a woman with a blue hue was seen downstairs. Waitresses set up tables in the evening to prepare for the next day. In the morning they find the table settings undone and moved.
A chef went outside for a smoke one day. He saw a woman and a small child swinging on the balcony. When he returned inside he realized there was no swing there. He went back outside to look for the new swing. He found no swing, no woman, and no child.
While in the wine cellar, the general manager heard deep voices. The wine cellar is located where two openings to old tunnels into town were once a passage to brothels and the bank.
In the Empire Ballroom, a bride saw a person floating through with no feet.
At the bar area every two to three months the strong odor of tobacco is frequently present. Smoking is not permitted in this area or any other inside.
None of the activity seems frightening to the staff. But if you are not expecting a tap on the shoulder by a person not there, it can surprise you.