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In Benicia, California, the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is a state park. The park is dedicated to the third capital building of California, where from February 3, 1853, to February 24, 1854, the California State Legislature met when they voted to move the state capital to Sacramento. It is the last remaining pre-Sacramento capitol. The park includes the Fischer-Hanlon Residence, an early building in Benicia that was moved to the property in 1858, after the departure of the legislature, and converted into a home. Just off the main street of the city, the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park also includes a carriage house, workers’ quarters, and sculptured gardens.
In early 1853, following significant protests by state legislators of insufficient furniture and sleeping quarters in Vallejo, California, the Legislature moved the state capital to nearby Benicia the same year with the approval of Governor John Bigler. For a little more than a year the Legislature would convene in the Benicia City Hall, when in January 1854 again concerns about bad weather conditions, scarce and uncomfortable sleeping quarters, and “the insecure condition of the public archives” emerged.
The Assembly and Senate passed an enabling act, voiding all prior laws, to move the state capital to its current upriver site in Sacramento, following a request by Sacramento to use the Sacramento County Courthouse free of charge as a capital building. Governor Bigler signed the act into law on February 25, 1854, shifting the capital to its present location. The Legislature and the governor climbed aboard the Wilson G. Hunt steamship to take over their temporary quarters. “So much opposed to the removal were the good people of Benicia,” the Sacramento Union wrote, “that the owners of the wharves, it is stated, refused to permit the steamer … to land to take on the legislative furniture unless she would pay $500.” This offer was denied and the furniture was shipped from another wharf.
On January 11, 1935, the Greek Revival-Palladian building was listed as a California State Historic Landmark. On February 12, 1971, the National Register of Historic Places placed the Benicia capitol on the federal list.
With reconstructed period furnishings and exhibits, the original building has been restored. The interior contains a reconstruction with ponderosa pine of the building’s original floor. A candlestick, a 19th-century newspaper, a quill pen, blotting sand, a spittoon, and a top hat are furnished for the desks, four of which are from the 1850s or earlier.
In Benicia, a town in the northern San Francisco Bay Area between San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay, the historic park is located at 115 West G Street.
The California State Legislature convened in a ceremonial session on February 16, 2000, to mark the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Legislature.
This amazing landmark in Benicia, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:
- Glass Beach
- Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns
- Benicia State Recreational Area
- Benicia Arsenal
- Benicia Main Street: First Street
- Lindsay Art Glass
- 9th Street Park (AKA the 9th Street Pier)
- Fischer Hanlon House
All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1091 Shary Circle in Concord, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!