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William Chapman Ralston was designated "Mr. San Francisco" during his life time. Originally from Ohio, he made his fortune in silver during the Gold Rush years of California. He built the Palace Hotel, a theater, a home, and began the Bank of California in San Francisco. His Carriage House provided the means for bringing his guests to his country estate in Belmont for his famous parties, which included some of the wealthiest men of the time (Stanford, Mark Hopkins, e.g.), as well as important people such as Mark Twain.
When the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur bought the property in 1922, the room became a storage room, and eventually part of it was used for the art students' sculpture classes. In 1991, after extensive renovation of the barn following the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, the room was converted into a spacious art gallery named for the Wiegand Foundation, which provided the funds to make it possible. Since then, the Wiegand Gallery has adhered to the policy of exhibiting and interpreting art of the 20th century with an emphasis on the work of emerging artists, mid-career artists, and rare and unusual work by established artists looking at a broad range of artistic expression in all media. The Gallery continues to present the work of California artists with an emphasis on those in the Bay Area. In conjunction with its exhibition program and in partnership with the university, the Gallery presents: (1) education programs including slide lectures given by exhibiting artists and curators free of charge; (2) periodic master's classes, which are open to the public and provide opportunities for one on one interaction between students and exhibiting artists; and (3) lectures and discussions on current exhibits for community college/high school classes.
Selected papers. Site documentation. Office of the Vice President of Administration, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA.