The Rae House History

The Rae House is open to the public Monday through Friday by appointment (209) 745- 0951


The Rae House was built in 1868 by John Rae, a pioneer who had tried his luck in the gold fields, settled for a time in Hicksville, worked for a while as an interior plaster finisher, and eventually became one of Galt's biggest ranchers.  John Rae's work as an interior plaster finisher, according to his daughter, Alice, included work in the State Capitol.  The finishing work around the ceilings in his home was done by him as well.

Alice Rae, lived in the Rae family home until 1985.  She was a graduate of Galt High School and a teacher in the Galt Elementary School District for over thirty years.  In 1955, Alice served the Galt Community as its City Clerk.  Alice was well known for her kindness to the children of Galt and to the Community in general.

In 1969, the Rae home, then 101 years old, was chosen the Centennial home and featured on the cover of Galt's Centennial Souvenir Book.  Its Victorian Queen Anne Cottage style was considered typical of the pioneer homes of Galt's early history.

In 1985, when Alice became too old and ill to maintain the home and property, relatives moved her to a convalescent hospital near them.  With no one living in the house, and with little care and attention given the garden, the Rae family house soon became a target for vandals.

The Rae home remained neglected while the estate was in probate, and it began to deteriorate.  Although structurally sound, both the interior and the exterior walls suffered at the hands of vandals and their spray-paint cans.  Then it was reported that the property was sold to developers, and the house was scheduled to be demolished to make room for new homes.

In 1985, when the Galt Area Historical Society was founded, people in the area began asking if the Society wanted pictures and artifacts from the past.  It soon became evident that the Society would need a place where precious items from the past could be kept and protected from the ravages of time.  We needed a Museum.   There was no such place in Sacramento County south of the Cosumnes River.   The Society saw this as an urgent need, and began looking for a suitable place.  

At a general meeting of the Galt Area Historical Society, the plight of the Rae family house was reported.  After checking with city officials to confirm the demolition plans, the Galt Area Historical Society voted unanimously to do their best to save the Victorian Rae home for a museum.  And so the "Save the Rae" campaign was born, a project that would involve almost everyone in the Community and make possible the acquisition of the Rae house for Galt's Museum.  Organizations held fund raisers or gave donations.  Businesses gave financial support.  The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted funds to help restoration, and private foundations from outside the area contributed funds as well.

The Rae House, which was a local landmark, and which had been chosen the Centennial House, (a picture of it had been on the cover of the Centennial Program) was to be demolished in 1988, to make room for a housing development.   The house, the home built by pioneer John Rae and residence of his daughter, Alice Rae, a retired Galt Elementary Schoolteacher and Galt City Clerk, had been neglected after her death.  The garden was overgrown with weeds, and the house had been the victim of graffiti inside and out.  All the windows had been broken, and the fixtures inside the house, the fire place mantel, doorknobs, hinges, lighting, etc., had all been stolen.  The house, which had once been the showcase for the Centennial, was structurally sound, but cosmetically in terrible shape.  The Galt Area Historical Society appealed to the members of the Galt City Council, and together they began a partnership to "Save the Rae". 

The City Council offered the developers a waiver of park fees if they would give the City the Rae House and 3/4 of an acre of land surrounding it.  The developers agreed, and the City Council then deeded the house and land to the Galt Area Historical Society with the stipulation that the Rae family house must be restored and a museum created and maintained. 

To the new historical society with a bank account of approximately $700, the task seemed awesome, but members were filled with determination, and the citizens of the community rallied to offer material, labor, and cash donations.  One of the Society members wrote grants for the project and brought in outside financial assistance of $58,000.  Developers in the Community offered fund-raisers, and local organizations sponsored special fund-raisers as well.  The slogan "Save the Rae" was well known by everyone in the Community, and with the tremendous outpouring of support, the Rae family home was saved, and it became the local museum that is operating today.   The charter members enjoyed this early success.

On June 9th, 1991, the Rae House Museum opened its doors to over two hundred guests.  The list of attendees included members of the State Office of Historic Preservation, the County Board of Supervisors, the Galt City Council, and the Sacramento County Historical Society.  That day, the first tours were conducted by costumed docents.  There was no furniture in the house.  That was donated later.  Although it was little more than a shell, it had been so beautifully restored, it was worth visiting it to see what could be done.  A year later, after many of the memorial roses had been planted, a large stone was placed at the base of the new flagpole.   On the stone there was a brass plaque donated by the local Rotary Club that stated that the grounds were dedicated to the memory of the pioneer families that had been a part of the area history.   This date marked the end of a three-year monumental project of restoration work which involved raising $190,000.00 in cash, donated time, and material to prepare the home of John Rae for its role as a museum.

Since that day, the Rae Museum has been open on a regular schedule and has given special tours for school children and adult organizations.  It has offered art exhibits, craft demonstrations, annual Christmas festivities, yearly Old-Fashioned Ice-Cream Socials, and a High Tea.

Its garden, once overrun by weeds, now is dedicated to the Galt area pioneers and is filled with colorful roses each a donation given as a memorial.  There are over 100 varieties of roses to see in bloom during the spring and summer months.  The garden has been used for wedding and family portraits as well.

Inside the Rae museum the visitor is treated to special displays in the "Pioneer Room" and in the cabinets in the front parlor.  A 200-year-old spinning wheel gives the viewer a feeling for the work of textile production of the past.  The old wood stove in the kitchen and the round ice box on the back porch help visitors to experience kitchens of the past and the importance of keeping the kitchen stove tea kettle always filled with hot water.

In 2002, the Rae house, which was built for a small farming family, not as a museum with many visitors, began showing signs of wear.   The front porch was sagging, the front steps were giving in, and there was serious work that needed to be done to the ceiling in the front room and upstairs.  The work was reviewed by a contractor, and he estimated that the cost of repair would be around $75,000.   He warned that some areas might need more work once they were opened up.  The Society had recently expended the money they had saved for the renovation of the garage, so they needed funding help for what was ahead of them.  The grant writer began working on obtaining outside assistance, while the curator presented the case for "Save the Rae II" to the Galt City Council. 

At first the City Council was reticent to spend funds on the Rae House Museum, however, they assigned members of the City staff to appraise the problems and to return with any recommendations.  The staff recommendation was that the work must be done to save the museum, and they also recommended a contractor. 

The work was done as recommended, and when the contractor began working on the back porch steps, he found dry rot.  The back porch needed total replacement, and when it was done, it was returned to the original porch as built by John Rae.  At the annual old-fashioned ice cream social in July of 2003, the Rae House Museum was once again opened to the public, ready for tours. 

Over 5000 people have visited the Rae Museum, and donations of dolls, china, a 200-year-old spinning wheel, a dining room table and chairs, a baby buggy, sewing machine, and many more items have been on display, or are carefully stored for future exhibits. 

The Museum continues to be open on the first Sunday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m.  (March-December 2009)
Galt's Rae House Museum is located at 204 Oak Avenue.  (From the center of Galt, go north on Lincoln Way past the high school. 
Turn left (west) on Myrtle Ave. and it will dead end on Oak Avenue, right in front of the Museum is the museum parking lot.)

The Rae house has a new curator,  New information when available.

Galt Area Historical Society Home page

Last edited 01/24/2014