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Lachryma Montis

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Lachryma Montis, the house and estate built by General Mariano G. Vallego when he returned to Sonoma as a State Senator, is built on a natural spring the Indians called "Chiucuyem" or mountain tears. In respect, the General named the estate Lachryma Montis or "mountain tear" in Latin. When Vallejo's fortune dwindled in the 1870s he sold water to the city of Sonoma, forming one of California's first water companies. The city used this water up to the 1930s using a redwood pipe.

Lachryma MontisExpand
Picture taken 1:33pm 19 Feb 2012

Lachryma Montis is not without controversy. The General bought the land; some of which was likely stolen from the Indians who were supposed to own it. He also "liberated" the fruit trees and wine vines from the MIssion property and replated them all on his estate. His reason was to save them but moving the trees and vines certainly did not diminish the General's net worth.

The house was actually constructed twice. It started as a prefabricated structure made in the northeast US and then shipped around the Horn. It was then shipped to Sonoma and, like a Lego structure, put back together again; a sort of build by numbers.

Chalet/Visitor Center/Museum

The building the museum is in is called the Swiss Chalet. The original timbers of the building were cut and numbered in Europe and shipped here during the Gold Rush. The bricks came around the Horn as ballast in sailing ships. The General erected the building in 1852 for use as a warehouse in which to store supplies. Some restoration work was done in 1935. Today, the Chalet is your starting point and a museum.

Chalet and Visitor CenterExpand
Picture taken 1:33pm 19 Feb 2012

Museum Displays

There are lots of pictures and paintings of the estate and the Vallejo family in the museum. A sampling is presented here. Click on any one of them for an expanded view where you can also start a slide show of all of them.

General Vallejo as a young man.
Young VallejoExpand
1:34pm 2/19/2012
Adobe brick and branding iron.
Adobe Brick Branding IronExpand
1:35pm 2/19/2012
Painting of the estate.
Estate PaintingExpand
1:35pm 2/19/2012
Swiss Chalet in early days.
Swiss ChaletExpand
1:36pm 2/19/2012
The barn. Designed to complement the main house.
1:36pm 2/19/2012
Cherry Stoner. Patented in 1853 and able to pit 20-30 quarts/hour.
Cherry StonerExpand
1:36pm 2/19/2012
Berry Spoon. Awarded as a prize by the Horticulture Society for the best California Red Wine in 1858.
Berry SpoonExpand
1:36pm 2/19/2012
Wine Corker
Wine CorkerExpand
1:37pm 2/19/2012
Sonoma Valley Band Photo
Sonoma Valley BandExpand
1:38pm 2/19/2012
Chairs were simple with leather thong seats.
1:38pm 2/19/2012
Unlabeled crushing machine. The grinding wheel in the background is not part of the machine.
Crushing MachineExpand
1:38pm 2/19/2012
Painting of the Chalet.
Chalet PaintingExpand
1:39pm 2/19/2012
General Vallejo reviewing his troops at Sonoma in 1846. The Mission is in the far background, soldier's barracks next, and Casa Grande, the General's home at that time, is the building with the tower.
Reviewing Troops 1846Expand
1:39pm 2/19/2012
General Vallejo's Coach. This phaeton was the personal carriage of General Vallejo. It was ordered from France in the 1850s. On outings, the General held the reins and handled the team. The small rear seat was for a footman who tended the horses and carriage.
1:39pm 2/19/2012
Saddle types used on the estate; some designed for side sitting.
1:39pm 2/19/2012
1:39pm 2/19/2012
1:39pm 2/19/2012
1:39pm 2/19/2012

Some of the display area is dedicated to the Vallejo family. Those pictures are shown here...

General Vallejo with his daughters Maria (upper left) and Luisa (lower right) and three granddaughters.
Vallejo PhotoExpand
1:41pm 2/19/2012

Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Francisca Benicia Carrillo de Vallejo
Mariano and wife FranciscaExpand
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Son Andronico (1834-1897)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Maria (1857-1932)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Luisa (1856-1943)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Son Napoleon (1850-1923)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Son Uladislao (1845-Unknown)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Jovita (1844-1878)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Son Platon (1841-1925)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Natalia (1838-1913)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Adelayda (1837-1895)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Daughter Epifania (1835-1905)
1:41pm 2/19/2012
Lily Wiley Vallejo (wife of Platon), Luisa Vallejo, and a friend, Emily Melvin, show off their long hair. (1872)
Long Hair FrontExpand
1:42pm 2/19/2012
Long Hair BackExpand
1:42pm 2/19/2012
Carlos, Anita, and Raoul Emparan, Luisa's children, were born and raised at Lachryma Montis. (1888)
Carlos, Anita, and Raoul EmparanExpand
1:42pm 2/19/2012

Other things on display.

Epaulet and Rank Insignia
1:42pm 2/19/2012
1:42pm 2/19/2012
1:42pm 2/19/2012
1:42pm 2/19/2012

General Vallejo at different life stages.
Vallejo PicturesExpand
Picture taken 1:43pm 19 Feb 2012

Lachryma Montis Main House

After visiting the museum, exit the Chalet and move across the front yard to the main house for the estate. Remember, this house was built as a prefab with parts numbered and put to gether on-site.

Lachryma MontisExpand
Picture taken 1:44pm 19 Feb 2012

1:45pm 2/19/2012

The plaque in front of the house reads...

Home of General M. C. Vallejo
Erected 1851
Purchased by State Park Commission through funds furnished by the General Vallejo Memorial Association and the People of the State of California
Donors names within building
Tablet donated by Historic Landmarks Committee, Native Sons of the Golden West

Now let's tour the downstairs part of the house...

Living Room
Living RoomExpand
Picture taken 1:46pm 19 Feb 2012

Some items in and around the living room.
1:46pm 2/19/2012
1:47pm 2/19/2012
General Vallejo
General VallejoExpand
1:47pm 2/19/2012
Unlabeled Boy
Unidentified BoyExpand
1:47pm 2/19/2012

Now move on to the...

Dining room
Dining RoomExpand
Picture taken 1:48pm 19 Feb 2012

Some items in and around the dining room.
Serving Station
Dining Room StorageExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012
Carved Stag's Head
Stag HeadExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012
Place Setting
Place SettingExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012
Serving Tray
Tray TableExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012
Wall Clock
Wall ClockExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012
Hanging Lamp
Dining LightExpand
1:48pm 2/19/2012

Finally, move to the...

Picture taken 1:54pm 19 Feb 2012

Now, let's go back to the front door hallway and to upstairs...

Hallway Mirror
Hallway MirrorExpand
1:46pm 2/19/2012
1:46pm 2/19/2012
Picture Half Way Up
Stairwell PictureExpand
1:49pm 2/19/2012

As with most homes of this era, the bedrooms are upstairs. I was able to get panorama-style pictures of two of the four bedrooms. The other two are shown as individual pictures of items in the rooms.

Master Bedroom
Master Bed
Master BedExpand
1:50pm 2/19/2012
Dressing Table
Dressing TableExpand
1:50pm 2/19/2012
Child's Bed
Infant BedExpand
1:50pm 2/19/2012
Wash Stand
Washing AreaExpand
1:50pm 2/19/2012

Two other bedrooms...

Bedroom 1Expand
Picture taken 1:53pm 19 Feb 2012


Bedroom 2Expand
Picture taken 1:53pm 19 Feb 2012

Child's Room
Toy Set
1:51pm 2/19/2012
Child's Bed
Child's BedExpand
1:51pm 2/19/2012

Finally, I don't recall where this was hanging in the house but I found the drawing of San Francisco in the 1846-7 timeframe interesting so I'll use it to close out the house.

San Francisco 1846-7Expand
Picture taken 1:53pm 19 Feb 2012

El Delirio

El Delirio is the small garden pavilion west of the main home. It was here that General Vallejo rewrote his La Historia de California. A swan fountain sits in front of the residence. Once used as a guest house, it now just invites people to relax in this pretty spot. From here you can also look back at the main house and the building next to it. (Note: That building is not on the tourist maps so I have to assume that it's some form of servants' quarters and/or storage.)

Guest House
Guest HouseExpand
1:58pm 2/19/2012
Inside Guest House
Guest House InteriorExpand
1:58pm 2/19/2012
Back of Main House
Main House BackExpand
1:59pm 2/19/2012
Adjacent Structure
Servants QuartersExpand
1:59pm 2/19/2012


General Vallejo built a stone and masonry reservoir for fresh water delivery behind the main house. It collected water from natural artesian springs in the hills above; the same springs the estate is named for. Today it's a nice place to sit and relax and watch the carp and turtles swimming. If the carp were introduced during the late 1870s then they are relatives of the original carp introduced to the U.S. in the Sonoma area by Julius Poppe in 1876.

Picture taken 2:00pm 19 Feb 2012

2:07pm 2/19/2012
Red-earred Slider Turtle
2:07pm 2/19/2012

At the back and above the reservoir is the Hermitage or Napoleon's Cottage. General Vallejo's youngest son, Napoleon, used it as his private hideaway. He kept a menagerie of pets there; numbering at one time 14 dogs, several cats, and a parrot.

Picture taken 2:03pm 19 Feb 2012

Finally, we come full circle back to the Chalet and leave Lachryma Montis.

Chalet from ReservoirExpand
Picture taken 2:01pm 19 Feb 2012

Some of the other historic areas around the Mission:

  • Sonoma Plaza
  • The Sonoma Barracks
  • The Blue Wing Inn
  • The Toscano Hotel
  • La Casa Grande - General Vallejo's home before 1846
  • Lachryma Montis - General Vallego's home after 1850


Navigation for Mission San Francisco Solano:

Mission Home :: History :: Museum :: Chapel :: Courtyard :: Exterior :: Jorgensen Watercolors :: Sonoma Plaza :: Sonoma Barracks :: Lachryma Montis


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Copyright © 2012 Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved
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