|California State Capitol|
|Location||10th and L Street|
|Owner||State of California|
|Management||State of California|
|Antenna spire||75.3 m (247 ft)|
|Roof||64 m (210 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||M. Frederic Butler|
California State Capitol
|NRHP reference #||73000427 |
|Added to NRHP||April 3, 1973|
The California State Capitol is home to the government of the U.S. state of California. The building houses the bicameral state legislature and the office of the governor. Located in Sacramento, the Neoclassical structure was completed between 1861 and 1874 at the west end of Capitol Park, which is framed by L Street to the north, N Street to the south, 10th Street to the west, and 15th Street to the east.
The structure was completed between 1861 and 1874. The Capitol and grounds were listed on the office of the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and listed as a California Historical Landmark in 1974, with a re-dedication on January 9, 1982, to commemorate the close of the bicentennial restoration project. The building had undergone a major renovation, known as the California State Capitol Restoration, from 1975 until 1982 to restore the Capitol to its former beauty and to retrofit the structure for earthquake safety. Although not generally considered earthquake country, Sacramento was hit by two earthquakes within days of each other in 1892 which damaged the Capitol.
The building is based on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. The west facade ends in projecting bays, and a portico projects from the center of the building. 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.
Above the flat roof with balustrade are two drums supporting a dome. The first drum consists of a colonnade of Corinthian columns; the second, Corinthian pilasters. Large arched windows line the drum walls. The dome is 64 m (210 ft) high, and supports a lantern with a smaller dome capped with a gold-leafed orbed finial.
The California Senate chamber seats its forty members in a large chamber room decorated in red, which is a reference to the British House of Lords, also the upper house of a bicameral legislature. The chamber is entered through a second floor corridor. From the coffered ceiling hangs an electric reproduction of the original gas chandelier. A hand-carved dais caps off a recessed bay framed by Corinthian columns.
The Latin phrase "Senatoris est civitatis libertatem tueri" ["It is the duty of a Senator to protect the liberty of the people"] lines the cornice. A portrait of George Washington by Jane Stuart, the daughter of Gilbert Stuart, is on the wall above. The State Seal hangs above.
Statues of the Roman goddess Minerva once overlooked both chambers. Today, Minerva, sculpted by Michael H. Casey, appears only in the senate chambers.
Gilded Corinthian columns support the gallery above, and dark red curtains that can be drawn for privacy are tied back along the columns. High arched windows run along the bottom below rectangular pane windows. Behind the rostrum, there are two chairs with red velvet cushions, reserved for the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the assembly, but are never used.
The California Assembly chamber is located at the opposite end of the building. Its green tones are based on those of the British House of Commons, the lower house. The dais rests along a wall shaped like an "E", with the central projection housing the rostrum. 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"). Almost every decorating element is identical to the Senate Chamber.
The capitol's grounds are known as Capitol Park, an area of 10 undivided city blocks running from 10th to 16th and from L to N Streets. The entire Capitol Park area is included in the National Register historic district listing. The park is managed by the California State Capitol Museum.