Because all of the furnishings and collections are original and authentic, without exception, the museum offers a remarkable look at the life of the Pardee family within these walls from 1869 to 1981. Visitors can see almost the entire house during a guided tour, as well as visit the historic, all-redwood carriage house. The carriage house is a remarkable survivor in downtown Oakland once threatened with demolition to make way for an on-ramp to Interstate 980, but still intact with horse stalls, tack room, bins, and a rickety stairway to the hayloft area.
The house was built in 1868-69 by Enoch Pardee, a Gold Rush immigrant to California from the Midwest, who became an eye doctor in San Francisco after mining gold. He also pursued a vigorous public career in the East Bay during the 1870s and 1880s, including terms as mayor of Oakland, state assemblyman, and state senator.