From merchant shops to museum: the fort after Sutter

The history of Sutter’s Fort from the beginning of the Gold Rush to its reconstruction in the 1890s is important in understanding how the Fort became a dilapidated relic of Sacramento’s past and became a reconstructed monument to pioneer times. The history of the Fort after John Sutter is a history often overlooked by historians. While the Fort’s significance to California history is focused on the events there in the 1840s, the Fort played an intimate role in Sacramento history in the later nineteenth century and helped foster a romanticism for a time prior to statehood. Sutter’s Fort sparked the preservation movement in California, and the Fort continues to be a lasting symbol of pioneer times in California. Sutter’s Fort is the exemplar that a community can make a difference to prevent further destruction of a historic site and preserve it for future generations.