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Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

The California State Capitol Building, 1853-1854
Location Benicia, California, USA
Coordinates 38°2′59″N 122°9′32″W / 38.04972°N 122.15889°W / 38.04972; -122.15889Coordinates: 38°2′59″N 122°9′32″W / 38.04972°N 122.15889°W / 38.04972; -122.15889
Area less than 1-acre (4,000 m2)
Governing body California State Parks

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is a state park in Benicia, California. The park is dedicated to California’s third capitol building, where the California State Legislature and bureaucracy convened from February 3, 1853 to February 24, 1854. It is the only pre-Sacramento capitol that survives.



Following large complaints by state legislators of inadequent furniture and sleeping quarters in Vallejo in early 1853, the Legislature, with the consent of Governor John Bigler, relocated the state capital to nearby Benicia that same year. The Legislature would convene in the Benicia City Hall for a little more than a year, when again complaints over poor weather conditions, inadequent and uncomfortable sleeping quarters, and "the insecure condition of the public archives" arose in January 1854.

After a proposal by Sacramento to use the Sacramento County Courthouse free of charge as a capitol building, the Assembly and Senate passed an enabling act, voiding all previous legislation, to move the state capital to its new location upriver in Sacramento. On February 25, 1854, Governor Bigler signed the act into law, moving the capital to its current location. The Legislature and governor climbed aboard the steamship William G. Hunt to take up its new quarters.

The building was listed as a California State Historic Landmark on January 11, 1935. The National Register of Historic Places placed the Benicia capitol building on the federal list on February 12, 1971.

Present day

The original building has been restored with reconstructed period furnishings and exhibits. The interior includes a board-for-board reconstruction of the building’s original floor with ponderosa pine. The desks, four of which are originals from the Benicia period or earlier, are furnished with a candlestick, a 19th century newspaper, a quill pen, blotting sand, a spitoon, and a top hat.

Senate chambers at Benicia. Period hats represent the senators of the time

The historic park is located at 115 West G Street in Benicia, not far from Vallejo.

On February 16, 2000, the California State Legislature met in a symbolic session to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Legislature's first meeting.

Senate chambers on first floor, Assembly chambers above.

Proposed for closure

The Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is one of the 48 California state parks proposed for closure in January 2008 by California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a deficit reduction program, since rescinded following public outcry.[1] It is currently on the Governor's list of two hundred parks to close in Fall of 2009 in response to the ongoing budget crisis.

See also


External links



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