Choosing California’s Capitol was a long and arduous process. Monterey became the first Capitol (1848-1849) after the end of the American-Mexican War. The Legislature voted to move it to Pueblo de San Jose in December 1849 where it remained until May 1851. As proper facilities were not completed as promised, the next move was to Vallejo, but was again moved in January 185 to Sacramento where it remained until late 1853. Back to Vallejo for just two months in early 1853 before being again moved, this time to Benicia where it found a home for only a year. In February 1854, State’s Capitol returned to Sacramento where it remains to this day.
Today’s state current capitol
combines Greek-revival and Roman-Corinthian architectural styles, the design tracing back through to our national capitol in Washington DC, the State House in Boston Massachusetts, Virginia’s capitol in Richmond, the Parthenon.
Unlike all but one of the eight other state capitols we’ve visited in this trip, there was both visible security and a requirement to pass through a metal detector. While I passed through without incident, Debbie set off the alarm. It took a few seconds for her to realize that it was her recent knee replacement which was causing the problem, resulting in her standing spread eagle while being wanded.
It’s a sad commentary that after the Mura Building, 9-11 and global terrorism threats that access to public building has become so intrusive in the larger states.
The 30”, gold-plated ball atop the copula rises to a height or 201 feet.
At the base of the portico, seven granite archways brace and support the porch above. Eight fluted Corinthian columns line the portico. A cornice supports the pediment above depicting Minerva surrounded by Education, Justice, Industry and Mining.
On either side of the pediment are two statues
Four large tile groupings featuring Minerva seated with a California grizzly bear and the word Eureka are located in the north and south hallways of the first floor of the Capitol.
In the room directly under the Rotunda features a life-sized statue of the state’s former governor and former president, Ronald Reagan,
surrounded by 12 murals which combine a romantic classicism and idealism with a Renaissance color palette and California imagery to illuminate his era's distinctive interpretation of California history.
Above it the 53’ diameter Rotunda rises to a height of 128’.
There were special exhibits on the floor of the original governors’ offices which were used until 1951;
Governor’s private office
Secretary of States’ offices
and State Treasurers’ offices used in 1903
and the one used in 1933.
In 1907 a stained glass representation of the Great Seal was installed in the ceiling of the hallway leading from the Capitol's rotunda. To show off an exciting technological advance of the time, electricity rather than sunshine was used to light up the seal.
California’s “Golden Bear” stands guard outside the Governor’s office … and is also a prop for photo ops for visitors from across the US and foreign countries.
Here, as in many of the other capitols we've visited, old pay phone booths have been retained … although the AT&T phone equiment long gone … to be used for making private cell phone calls or as a mini office for media filing stories.
We climbed the stairs
to the third floor which was covered with a repeating patttern of California's state flower,the goldn poppy
Six hundred thousand Italian mosaicists installed the marble mosaic floors located on the second floor in the north and south wings of the Capitol during a major remodel of the building in 1906. The floor consists of a grey and peach marble background with black, yellow and red marble borders. Each section is distinguished by golden poppy designs at the corners and center. The Marble pieces range from a quarter of an inch to two inches in size.
and where we were able to see both the House Chambers
Note the green carpet, representative of the British House of Commons
and the Senate Chambers.
Photographs of California’s 38 governors hang throughout the building. Three very recognizable members of this elite group include
Earl Warren (1943-1953)
Tapped by President Eisenhower to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court which a year later issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision ruling “separate but equal“ schools were inherently not equal and not constitutional
While you may recall the famous misprint in the Chicago Daily News
Before leaving the building, we had an opportunity to watch a fascinating video on the most recent renovation of the capitol. Based on an extensive 1972 engineering study it was determined that the 100-plus year old building was in danger of a collapse if it was subject to even a moderate earthquake. During its restoration, the building was completely gutted and its walls reinforced.
Surrounding and adjacent to the Capitol Building are 40 acres of lawns, stately trees (some simply enormous), flower gardens and memorials to California’s history.
Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784)
Replica of the Liberty Bell
Mexican War Memorial (1846-1848)
Sisters of Mercy
Thomas Starr King (1824–1864)
A Unitarian minister, influential in California politics during the Civil War. Starr King spoke zealously in favor of the Union and was credited by Abraham Lincoln with preventing California from becoming a separate republic. He is sometimes referred to as "the orator who saved the nation”. His statue was the first erected on the Capitol grounds.
Civil War Memorial Grove
Military Order of the Purple Heart
Spanish American War Memorial (1898)
USS California (BB-44) Ship’s Bell
The California Veterans Memorial
A three-sided granite obelisk honoring California Veterans from the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
The California Vietnam Veterans Memorial
With bronze statues of service men and women depicting military life in Vietnam and featuring engravings of names of Californians killed or missing in action.
California Veterans Organizations Memorial
Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial
California’s Moon Tree
Each Apollo astronaut was allowed to take a small number of personal items to the Moon. Their PPKs, or Personal Preference Kits, were often filled with trinkets–coins, stamps or mission patches. Al Shepard took golf balls. On Gemini 3, John Young brought a corned beef sandwich. Jack Roosa, Command Module pilot of Apollo 14 (1971) PPK was a metal cylinder, 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, filled with seeds, in honor of his father a forest service smoke jumper. While he did not land on the moon, Roosa and his seeds circled the moon 34 times. Back on earth, the seeds were distributed by the US Forestry Service. One of those seeds was planted next to the California State capitol.
The Capitol grounds also are home to California’s World Peace Rose Garden. Of Victorian design, it features 675 ross in 160 varieties of color and fragrance.
THroughout the State Capitol Park, all of the fountains have been turned off, the artificial ponds are dry and some areas are being changed over from grass to non-water requiring vegetation due to the state's continuing water crisis.
One final stop before catching a sidewalk café lunch and running some errands was a visit to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. The cathedral is considered both a religious and civic landmark. It is the mother church of the diocese, which stretches from the southern edge of Sacramento County north to the Oregon border and serves approximately 975,000 Catholics.