Historic Mariposa is located at the junction of Hwy 140 and Hwy 49 on the way to Yosemite National Park. The town of Mariposa was founded on land that was part of an 1846 Mexican land grant to General John C. Fremont. It was named Las Mariposas for the large number of butterflies in the area. The historic district is 1200 acres, with 61 buildings listed on the Federal Register of Historical Places #91000560.
The town has many historic homes and business and following are a few notable buildings that capture the character of this historic gold rush town. The Fremont Adobe was built in 1850 and was the office of John C. Fremont, and the Capitol Saloon was built of brick in 1867. The Mariposa Meat Market was built in 1859, and the Bogan Building was built in the 1850s.
The Stolder Building was the site of Gallison's Hotel between 1877 to 1887 and was the stop for Yosemite bound stage coaches. In 1887 the hotel burned down. It was rebuilt in 1901 and serves as the Mariposa Hotel Inn to this day. The Masonic Hall was first built in 1851, but was burned down in 1858 and again in 1866. This temple was rebuilt again in 1917, and is presently undergoing renovation (2010) and will house a theater. The walls of the I.O.O.F. Hall, established in 1855, are 18 inches thick.
Today the downtown area contains many unique shops, art galleries and restaurants. A creek walkway lined with native plants provides a lovely path to the Arts Park, where free concerts are performed by local artists every Friday night during the summer. Walking tours of downtown Mariposa are conducted April through September. Maps and information are available in stores throughout town for a self guided tour of Mariposa during other months.
In addition to the friendly people and tours of historic downtown, Mariposa celebrates its name sake with a Butterfly Festival each May.