California State Capitol

Sacramento, California | C.1874

Photo Credit: Georgios Tserdakidis

The California State Capitol, located in Sacramento, is home to the bicameral state legislature and office of the governor of California. While not known for earthquake activity, in 1892, this Neoclassical structure was damaged by two earthquakes within days of each other.

California’s Capitol design is based on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. A portico extends from the center of the building where, at its base, seven granite archways support the porch above. A cornice supports the pediment above the entrance showcasing a standing Minerva surrounded by four seated figures: Education, Justice, Industry and Mining.

The California Senate chamber seats its forty members in a red-decorated room, a reference to the British House of Lords. From the coffered ceiling hangs an electric reproduction of the original gas chandelier, and a hand-carved dais caps off a recessed bay framed by Corinthian columns.

Located at the opposite end of the building is the California Assembly chamber, decorated to be nearly identical to the Senate Chamber. Its green tones are based on those of the British House of Commons. Along the cornice appears a quotation from Abraham Lincoln in Latin: “legislatorum est justas leges condere” (“It is the duty of legislators to pass just laws”).

The Capitol remained largely unchanged after its initial build ending in 1874; it wasn’t until 1949 when expansion projects were launched. Then in 1982, a restoration project helped restore the Capitol to its former regard, the same year a re-dedication was held for the building’s historical landmark honors in 1974.

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