McLaughlin, Frank

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"Major" Frank McLaughlin was a mining engineer who became a millionaire working the Sierra Nevada rivers for gold. While living in Oroville to be close to his work, McLaughlin commissioned the design and construction of a Santa Cruz mansion he dubbed "Golden Gate Villa". The Queen Anne-style mansion was completed in 1891, on Beach Hill's Third Street. McLaughlin's guests included Thomas Edison and Theodore Roosevelt, but his story ended in tragedy. In 1907, sleepy Santa Cruz was shocked to learn that McLaughlin had shot his step-daughter and poisoned himself. He left no suicide note or other clues, and his motives remain a mystery. Golden Gate Villa, however, has survived as rental apartments and has been well maintained.